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Truex on the Dover 400 pole, but keep eyes on Kurt and Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards

  Martin Truex Jr. -- time to launch a comeback for Michael Waltrip's operation? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   DOVER, Del.  
   Deciphering Saturday's qualifying here might be a little tricky.
   Better probably just to pretty much ignore it.
   Martin Truex Jr., who does run well here, and who has had a fairly decent summer, took the pole for Sunday's 2 pm ET start of Round Three of the NASCAR playoffs.
   But then Truex hasn't won a Sprint Cup race in quite a while, and the Michael Waltrip operation hasn't had great success lately either.

   And the pre-race line looks to favor Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
   However gas mileage will likely again be a factor, and that could make luck the biggest player in the Dover 400.
   "I feel I understand what it takes to get around the place, and I've been fortunate enough to have good race cars here," Truex says. 
   "I love coming here…and it's a really, really challenging and difficult track. If you don't like it, it is one of those places you're never going to figure out."
   Truex didn't make the playoffs, so he will be one of the fall's wild card players.
   A fellow Toyota driver to keep a close eye on is Kyle Busch, who doesn't usually run well here but who has been getting tips from Truex.
   And  Busch qualified fifth: "The race is anybody's game, but qualifying up front seems to help things. So hopefully track position and good pit selections will be beneficial. 
    "It is so hard to pass, and so hard to race up front here, that anything can happen. 
    "We're better than we were here in the spring.  But after 10 laps everybody runs the same times anyway, so that's why it's going to be unpredictable."
    Kyle's brother Kurt is on the front row next to Truex, and that could be an omen. Kurt Busch has been driving angry lately, and his day at Loudon, N.H., was miserable. So he needs to rebound.  
    This track, Kurt Busch says, can be exciting to drive: "There is lot of action during a lap here at Dover.  It’s one of those fun tracks.
   "You just have to man-up and get up on the wheel.  I had a good run coming out of turn two (in qualifying) and I hit the rev-chip so hard I scared myself.   I yanked on the wheel left and when the car landed, I had to steer right and then go back left."
    Chasing the chasers? "We definitely look at where the chase guys qualify, and Jeff Gordon struggled," Kurt Busch said. "A bunch of the other guys are right in the mix. 
    "You just race your own race and let it pan out.  You can't worry too early-on in the race. 
    "Once you get to the final two pit stops, that's when you're looking at other chase guys."
   Perhaps the man to beat Sunday is Edwards, who has the best overall finishing record here among all the drivers in the field, and who is starting in the second row.
   If things go the way the numbers say they should, Edwards could come out of here not only with a win but with the Sprint Cup tour lead.
   "I feel like this is our best shot to win a race in the chase so far," Edwards says. "The biggest thing is I didn't want to overdrive it (in qualifying) and mess it up and start 20th or something.  I do that a lot. So I had to be real careful about that. 
    "But there is no track that's more fun to race on.  It's got a high sensation of speed."





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