Blake Smith is here with this weeks ...

Weekend Preview: AAA 400

            After a dominating victory in last week’s race at New Hampshire, Denny Hamlin and competitors remain in the northeast for this weekend’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, who currently leads series standings, hopes to make a sweep of the Delaware races this weekend as he tries to repeat his June victory.

If last week’s winner, Denny Hamlin has that glazed look in his eye this weekend, he is falling in love…or at least trying to. His feelings aren’t toward a person but toward a place, Dover International Speedway. Hamlin, who openly admits that Dover is his worst track in the 10-race chase for the Championship has consulted with a sports psychologist in preparation for this weekend’s race. According to USA Today, Hamlin revealed details of a text message conversation between he and sports psychologist, Bob Rotella. Hamlin first texted Rotella: "I need some positive influence on the week coming up. It's my worst track." Rotella responded: "Let your challenge for the week be to fall in love with this track. From the moment you arrive look at things to love about it and reasons to love it. All week look for things great and special to happen to you. Embrace the challenge of having your best attitude that you've ever had this week. Take pride in showing yourself how strong your mind is. Own your mind and own the race track that you race. Control your attitude and let your emotions own the world.” Hamlin has an average finish of 24.2 in his last 10 races at the Monster Mile.

It was announced this week that Regan Smith’s last race in the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet would be next week at Talladega. It was announced this week that Kurt Busch would be vacating the #51 car for the #78 team next season. The switch will come earlier than expected according to the owner of Busch’s current team, James Finch. . "He's going to be out after Talladega," We're going to go down there and try to win that race. We were up front for most of the spring race, and Brad (Keselowski) dumped us with three or four to go. We'll be fine at Talladega." It is unsure who will replace Busch in the #51 for the remainder of the season, although Regan Smith and AJ Allmendinger are reportedly 2 of the drivers being considered.

A charter jet filled with NASCAR drivers, team members and media experienced a delay on Thursday as they departed from Concord, NC enroute to this weekend’s race. The aircraft which was carrying Paul Menard, Casey Mears, Travis Kvapil, David Stremme and Scott Speed exited the runway and got stuck in the mud. Passengers were loaded on another plane and exited the Carolinas without incident.

There are 48 cars entered for this weekend’s AAA 400 at Dover. Danica Patrick will be making a return to the #10 machine and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. will be attempting his 2nd start in a 4th Roush Racing entry. The drivers not guaranteed a spot in the race, will be tweaking qualifying setups while the drivers who are locked in will be working on race setups. Qualifying is scheduled for 12:30 PM on Saturday.

Chase competitor, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be bringing the chassis he finished 12th with last month in Bristol. Earnhardt, along with many other teams have elected to bring their Bristol chassis due to the fact that both Bristol and Dover’s racing surfaces are concrete. Jimmie Johnson will be utilizing Chassis #728 for this weekend’s race as he goes for the Dover sweep. Crew chief, Chad Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson are my pick for this weekend. Look for #48 in victory lane!

Tune into Sunday’s coverage of the AAA 400 beginning at 12PM on WBKR and For a complete rundown of this weekend’s events in Dover, tune into “NASCAR Live” with Eli Gold on Tuesday night followed by Race Talk from Show Me’s of Owensboro, beginning at 6PM.


-- Blake Smith