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Dover Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Cale, Watermelons, and why Ramsay’s wrong

The Coca-Cola 600 was a tough act to follow, but Dover had challenges of its own — namely a concrete monster mascot (no, not “Concrete Carl”) whose diet apparently consists of right-front tires from Ford Fusions.

THUMBS UP to Kyle Larson for finishing second again — the fifth time in 13 races this season and the 11th time in his young career. Just think if he’d won in each of those runner-up races this season, he’d already have six race wins.

It nearly happened at Dover for Larson, who likely had the race won if it weren’t for a late-race caution bunching up the field.

In typical Kyle Larson fashion, he’ll get his racing fix throughout the week.


A bonus thumbs-up to the newly budding on-track rivalry between Larson and Martin Truex Jr., who swapped the lead and paint numerous times throughout the afternoon Sunday.

THUMBS DOWN to buying something nice but only getting to wear it once.

We’ve all been there. You buy some nice, new clothing for a special event; you look great, it fits perfectly, it’s comfortable, and you want to wear it all the time. You don’t mind spending a little extra because you deserve something nice, darn it! But, as fate has it, something happens. Maybe you lose the clothing. Or pack on weight eating too much Grotto’s Pizza. Or can’t wear it to two consecutive weddings.

Or, you’re Jimmie Johnson, and only get to wear your custom-designed Cale Yarborough 83 Wins helmet once — because you won your 83rd race in your first outing with the helmet.


Jimmie Johnson had BEAMdesigns create a special helmet as the seven-time champ chased tying NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough’s 83 victories – the sixth best all-time.

Johnson, of course, ended up winning at Dover, tying Yarborough’s record in his special helmet’s first outing.

No word on whether he’ll continue wearing the helmet honoring his hero, or if he’ll eye a higher spot on the all-time wins list.

It’s still a bummer when you only get to wear something once.

THUMBS UP to Ross Chastain for running well in his Cup debut and for running “the triple.”

It’s quite rare for a driver not aligned with a bigger team to run all three races in a single weekend, but Chastain did it at Dover – complete with his debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

He may have ruffled a few feathers along the way — including XFINITY Series regular Brendan Gaughan, who didn’t compete in the Cup Series Sunday — but there’s something to be said about bringing home a top 20, a) in a car that isn’t typically considered a 20th-place car, b) in your Cup Series debut, c) at a track that’s so tough that 12 cars failed to finish due to crash damage Sunday, and d) after completing two prior races at the same track the previous two days. Worthy of a thumbs up.

It was the first top-20 finish for Premium Motorsports outside of Talladega or Daytona …

… and probably the best run for a watermelon-themed car ever.


THUMBS DOWN to race Grand Marshal and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay hating on Wawa.


It was great to get a visit from the host of the new food-themed show “The F Word,” known for talking to chefs like a heated driver talks to a crew chief. But there’s a slight problem.

I can understand his hate on Dale Jr.’s famous banana-mayonnaise sandwich, but criticism of local favorite mini-market Wawa — a staple for fans on the road during this Dover-Pocono 1-2 punch — is going too far. Wawa is delicious and deserves no shade.

They’ve got the Turkey Gobbler, for goodness’ sake!

Sure, Ramsay’s a well-accomplished chef and he’s known for his outspoken criticism of food that’s not great — but you Don’t. Bash. Wawa. Ever.

(Fun bonus fact: Wawa often appears on NASCAR teams’ cars during races in the Northeast!)


THE BIGGEST THUMBS UP OF THE WEEK goes to Brad Keselowski — for no reason in particular — just because he needs something good to happen to him after the last two races.

For the second week in a row, he came out on the wrong end of a crash in the very early going of the race, due to no fault of his own.

First, last week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte …

… and most recently, on a restart just shy of 70 laps into the race at Dover, when Kurt Busch got out of shape, collecting Keselowski’s Ford.

He’s only completed 94 out of the past 1,000 miles.

Somebody give the man a hug and tell him everything’s going to be OK.