Tracks are often given nicknames, but few live up to their reputation like Dover’s Monster Mile.
While the "Monster" has gone from a Godzilla-like dinosaur to the current bulky, rock-like "Miles the Monster," the toughness of the track has not changed a bit.
A high banked, one mile oval, the Monster Mile has been challenging drivers and tearing up race cars for quite some time. The Sprint Cup race at the track earlier this year was no exception, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. mixed it up with his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle and AJ Allmendinger.
On the eve of this Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest wrecks, hardest hits and strangest moments from the Monster Mile.
It’s not often that a car flips on a mile-long race track, but Joey Logano flipped, rolled and tumbled his way down the Turn 3 banking at Dover in the Sept. 2009 race. After contact on the backstretch, Logano slid up the banking into on-coming traffic and was sent rolling back down.
Logano isn’t the only driver to flip at Dover, though.
During a 2005 Dover Nationwide Series race, a crash started off the exit of Turn 2 and the field stacked up as they sped onto the backstretch. With cars wrecking all over the track, Donnie Neuenberger’s car hit another car and was sent rolling down the backstretch before landing on all four tires and continuing to wreck.
The exit of Turn 2 has always been one of the biggest trouble spots at the Monster Mile. Many a race has been lost when the leader cut a tire, got loose or simply overdrove the exit of the corner and smacked the outside wall.
A "self-cleaning track," the Monster has a way of taking single-car wrecks and turning them into big pile ups, especially on the backstretch.
That was the case in the June 2008 Sprint Cup race where Elliott Sadler wrecked off Turn 2 and Tony Stewart, along with a host of others, plowed into the back of Sadler’s car.
Perhaps the most dramatic Dover finish in recent memory came during the 2011 Nationwide Series race. Coming to the white flag, Carl Edwards got into the left rear of Joey Logano, sending him into the outside wall and back into Clint Bowyer. Bowyer’s car lifted in the air and turned on its side as it shot towards the inside wall. As cars piled in behind them, debris from Bowyer’s car shot onto pit road, injuring a crew member standing on the wall.
The Monster Mile not only eats up cars on the track, but also on pit road. One of the most challenging pit roads in all of NASCAR, Dover’s pit road entrance has gotten the best of some of the sport’s top drivers.
In 2004, Matt Kenseth was attempting to make his way to pit road under green when he slid his car hard into the inside tire barriers. The incident ruined Kenseth’s day, and hurt his pride just a bit as well.
Kenseth wasn’t the first to have trouble on pit road. In 1989, the venerable Dick Trickle spun getting onto pit road under caution and slammed the tire barriers at the entrance to pit road.
Even hitting the inside pit wall can be treacherous at Dover. In 1997, Hermie Sadler hit the outside wall during a Nationwide Series race and was shot hard into the inside pit wall. Sadler hit an opening in the gate and broke open the wall as his car came to an abrupt halt.
From the high banks to the hard walls, the Monster Mile has been eating up cars since its first race in 1969. In fact, in the time that NASCAR has raced at Dover, only one race — the June 1971 Sprint Cup — has run caution free. This weekend, expect the Monster to jump up and bite more than a few cars.