This week the NASCAR schedule takes a trip to the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. Last week in Kansas we saw most of the race absolutely dominated by Martin Truex JR, only for a pit road penalty to cost him dearly and open the door for Kyle Busch to eventually take the win. An aggressive late race move by Denny Hamlin proved costly as the car broke loose entering the corner; not only crashing himself, but Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson as well.
Now we move onto Dover, a track that Jimmie Johnson has absolutely dominated in years past. Last fall, Kevin Harvick ran away with the race and pulled off the win in dominating fashion.
In this section I will break down my favorite plays for this week. I will provide insight and reasoning for my picks, as well as whether drivers are playable in all formats, cash games, or tournaments only.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,700: All Formats)
Jimmie Johnson has made himself very comfortable here at Dover, recording 7 wins in the last 20 races. In that span he has recorded 11 Top 5’s, 14 Top 10’s, and 19 Top 20’s. JJ is the leader in laps led at Dover by a mile, in the last 20 races at Dover he has led over 2200 laps. In 10 of those races he led 140 laps or more, and in 6 of those 10 he led 225 or more laps.
Jimmie will roll off 21st on Sunday, which makes him a lock for your line ups. In his 4 career races at Dover when starting 20th or worse; he has recorded 2 Top 10’s and never finished worse than 17th. His average finish in those races is 11th and he led more than 80 laps in 2 of those races.
Jimmie is the most expensive driver this week for a reason and he is worth every dollar of salary, I fully expect Jimmie to drive to the front and be in contention for the win. If he is able to get to the front quickly and lead some laps, those points are icing on the place differential cake.
Kevin Harvick ($10,400: All Formats)
Before I get into Harvick’s stats at Dover, I’m going to dive into his numbers in races when he starts on the pole. Since 2006, Harvick has started on the pole 15 times and has typically made the most of those opportunities. When starting on the pole Harvick has recorded 5 Wins, 8 Top 5’s, and 12 Top 15’s. In 7 of those races he led 119 or more laps, and in 3 of those 7 he led 223 or more laps. In the only race Harvick has started on the pole at Dover he recorded a 13th place finish, led 223 laps, and recorded 64 fastest laps.
Kevin absolutely DOMINATED the race here last fall by leading 355 laps and recording 135 fastest laps. In the last 3 Dover races, Harvick has led 669 laps and recorded 262 fastest laps. In the last 20 Dover races; he has 4 Top 5’s, 8 Top 10’s, and 18 Top 20’s.
Kevin has really found his groove at Stewart-Haas racing and I do not see that changing any time soon. His car has been very fast all weekend long and he seems incredibly confident going into the race on Sunday. Like Jimmie, Harvick should be a staple in your line ups. I have a feeling that Kevin may absolutely run away with this race just like he did last fall and will easily reach value.
Tony Stewart ($7,400: All Formats)
After missing a good part of the year, Tony is finally back in the car and fighting for a spot in the chase. Tony recorded his lone win at Dover back in 2013. In his last 19 races at Dover, he has recorded 8 finishes of 25th or worse, but that is no reason not to roster him this weekend. Starting 34th leads to the potential of a large number of positive place differential points, and limits the number of negative points he may receive if he were to have car trouble or get caught in a crash.
In the 3 races at Dover that Tony has started 30th or worse; he has recorded finishes of 5th,7th, and 17th. While the car did not show much speed in all of the practice sessions, he has 400 laps to get the setup where he would like it and pick his way through the field. A driver priced at $7,400 may not seem like much of a value pick, but starting 34th it makes it hard not to roster the former champion.
Aric Almirola ($6,700: Tournament Only)
Almirola will be highly owned thanks to his great finishes at Dover last season. In both races at Dover last season, Almirola was able to post 2 Top 5 finishes. That alone will draw a ton of people to him.
I will be fading him for the most part for a number of reasons. First, he will be very highly owned and to take down a GPP you need to differ yourself from the rest of the field. The second reason is his starting position. Starting 15th leaves a huge chance of losing valuable points if he falls back in the field or gets caught up in a crash. Third, his finishes outside of the 2 Top 5’s are not that impressive. Outside of the 6th place finish in June of 2012, Almirola has finished no better than 12th in any his 8 career races at Dover.
In 4 of his 8 career appearances at Dover, he has finished 18th or worse. Outside of the first practice session where he was 15th quick, Aric recorded practice times that were only good enough for 27th and 26th overall respectively in the last 2 sessions. Almirola is worth a shot in tournaments and tournaments only, I would not risk him in cash games.
Kyle Busch ($10,500: All Formats)
Kyle will be a driver to play in every format pretty much every week the rest of the year, the dude is a flat out stud no matter what track he is racing at. Kyle has 2 wins, 8 Top 5’s, 12 Top 10’s, and 16 Top 20’s in his last 20 races at Dover. He has led 130 or more laps 4 times here and led at least one lap in 12 of the last 20 Dover races. In the 3 times he has started 3rd at Dover; Kyle has recorded finishes of 1st, 2nd, and 4th.
We all know Kyle has been on a tear since he came back from injury last season and has already been on fire this season and I don’t see that changing this weekend. I fully expect Kyle to pull out a Top 5 and as always be a contender for the win.
Kyle Larson ($7,900: Tournaments)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Larson is stuck in the “penalty box.” The CGR team he is on now is not on the same level as teams such as Hendrick or Stewart-Haas, that being said Larson has put together some respectable finishes and been in contention for a few wins. In his 4 career races at Dover, Kyle has finished no worse than 11th. During that time he has recorded a Top 5, 3 Top 10’s, and 4 Top 15’s.
Dover has been very good to Kyle, and I see that trend continuing this weekend. Starting 23rd leaves Larson plenty of room to move up during the day; he was 6th and 12th quick in the final 2 practice sessions respectively. The car has speed and Larson is due for a good finish after last week.
Clint Bowyer ($6,400: Tournaments)
It has been a year full of struggles for Clint Bowyer, he has not been able to find speed for most of the year and just can’t seem to put together good finishes. If there is a week where Clint could turn things around and put together one of his best finishes of the season, this could be the week. Historically, Dover has been one of Clint’s best tracks; in his last 20 races here Clint has recorded 2 Top 5’s, 8 Top 10’s, and 18 Top 20’s.
In the lone race he started outside of the 30 he was able to record a 12th place finish. While I am not saying Clint will replicate that today, he does have a tendency to move forward. I feel like Clint will be a sneakier play today due to the fact that many people will try to pivot to Tony, at his price he is worth a shot if you are multi-entering.
Austin Dillon ($8,100: Avoid)
Brian Scott ($5,700: Avoid)
I hope you all enjoyed the first edition of this article! I will update and expand on some picks before the race starts, I wanted to get the article out early to help with your selection. If you have the chance, join our team for a live chat from 12-1 P.M. Eastern Time if you have any questions that need answered. We will also be hosting a tournament on DraftKings, if you enter you will have a chance to win some cash and also a month long subscription to our NASCAR content. If you have any questions or there is anything you would like me to touch on in future articles, please let me know and contact me on twitter @Tsals23! Good luck to you all and let’s win some cash!