NASCAR at Dover notebook: Busch ready to get rowdy at Monster Mile this weekend

Kyle Busch celebrates at Pocono in July. NASCAR via Getty Images

DOVER — Kyle Busch and Dover International Speedway share one huge thing in common — they’re both known for getting a little temperamental at times.

For Busch, that emotion often bubbles over when he comes up short of his goal of winning. For the racetrack, it tends to go through its mild stretches during a race to having angry fits where it suddenly appears to reach out and crash drivers.

While they’re both somewhat high-spirited, Busch has found the high banks of Dover to be to his liking in recent years.

Busch, the defending champion of the fall race at Dover, enters Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 Monster Energy Cup Series race atop the points standings in the playoff’s Round of 12.

Busch has a solid history in the fall race at Dover’s one-mile concrete layout, having finished runner-up in the race in both 2015 and ’16 before winning last year.

In fact, 10 of his 16 top-10 finishes at the track have come in the playoffs. He’s led 1,188 laps in his career at the track — second only to 11-time winner Johnson’s record 3,105 laps out front.

If Busch can return to Victory Lane on Sunday at Dover, he will guarantee his spot in the Round of 8. The top eight among 12 championship-eligible drivers following the next four races, beginning with the Monster Mile, will advance.

“You strive to go out there and win every single time you’re on the racetrack but, if you put yourself in a bad spot or try or push too hard or something like that and you get yourself out of whack and crashed or something like that, obviously that’s going to be way worse for yourself,” Busch said.

“So you have to be mindful of those situations and you have to pick and choose your battles. If we are in a position to try and win one on Sunday with our Interstate Batteries Toyota, we’ll try and take advantage of it, for sure.”

Busch, who finished 32nd at Charlotte last Sunday, is just looking to have a little bit of fun at Dover.

“I love that place,” Busch said, of Dover. “It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, because you can get so much out of (it).

“There are two ways about it — you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days you’re going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”

Kahne to miss Sunday’s race at Dover

Kasey Kahne will be sitting out this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events at Dover, Leavine Family Racing announced.

Kahne has missed the last four races as physicians continue to evaluate his health following a case of extreme heat exhaustion at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2. The driver participated in a private medical test session on Tuesday afternoon with his doctors.

Regan Smith will serve as the team’s substitute driver at Dover behind the wheel of the No. 95 Chevrolet.

Busy day for drivers, teams at Dover

Today will be the busiest day of the weekend for all of the drivers and teams competing at Dover International Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the K&N Pro Series East racing circuits.

Grandstand gates 3, 4, 11 and 19 will open for K&N Pro Series East practice at 9 a.m. The Monster Energy Cup drivers will hit the track for practice at 11 a.m. followed by Xfinity practice at 12:05 p.m.

The K&N Pro Series East drivers will qualify for the Crosley 125 at 1:20 p.m. before the Xfinity drivers have their final practice session at 2:30 p.m.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 Monster Energy Pro Series race will take place at 3:40 p.m. followed by the start of the Crosley 125 K&N Pro Series East race at 5 p.m.

TV ratings up for Charlotte’s roval

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race last Sunday at Charlotte earned a 1.95 rating and 3.218 million viewers on NBC, up 6 percent in ratings with a 13 percent increase in viewership from last year (1.8 million, 2.86 million).

It marked the first race at Charlotte’s newly designed combined road course/oval (roval) track layout.

The event was just the fourth Cup Series race all year to post an increase in TV viewership, joining Michigan, Chicagoland and Watkins Glen.

Excluding rainouts, Sunday’s race was the highest rated and most-watched at Charlotte since 2014 on ABC (3.1, 5.1M). It was the first race at Charlotte not to be affected by rain since 2014.

The telecast, which peaked with 4.4 million viewers from 5:15 until 5:30 p.m., had a combined TV and streaming audience of 3.24 million.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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