Monster Mile

Dover International Speedway is a 1-mile oval with 24 degrees of banking in the turns and 9 degrees of banking on the straightaways. The track changed from asphalt to a concrete racing surface for the 1995 season. The track held it’s first race for Nascar’s top division in 1969, and Sunday’s race will be the 99th for the series at Dover, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. Teams will use the 2019 rules package with a target horsepower of 750, and no aero ducts as part of the aerodynamic package. The additional downforce of the larger spoiler, splitter and radiator pan is expected to increase corner speeds and heighten the rigorous nature of an already tough track. Larson, Austin Dillon, and Stenhouse participated in the Goodyear tire test at Dover. Dover is also a shorter race at only 400 miles, so there are less dominator points available, which is important to remember when building lines this week.

Johnson’s historical record at Dover is among the greatest in the entire history of Nascar, surpassed only by Darrell Waltrip’s 12 Bristol wins. Team Penske has won eight times at Dover International Speedway, but is experiencing a minor winless stretch. Brad Keselowski had the team’s last Monster Mile victory in September of 2012.

Former Dover winners entered this week are Johnson (11), Kyle Busch (3), Newman (3), Harvick (2), and Truex (2). Kurt Busch, Elliott, and Keselowski have one each. As always, my articles are directed at DK gpp formats, but I will be around in chat to discuss cash plays and FD options. Let’s get to it.

Kyle Busch (12400) – Busch is a recent winner at Dover and has 3 overall wins here. He’s finished in the top five 43% of the time, and top ten 61%. He has struggled in the spring races however, finishing well outside of the top ten in the last five spring races, with an average finish in the 30’s over that span. He finished 8th here last fall in the most recent race, and won in the 2017 fall race. Kyle Busch carries the longest streak of top 10 finishes of his career into Dover this weekend. Busch has recorded top 10 efforts in 12 consecutive races. Busch also has the best average finish this season in the four races with the 750 horsepower rules package. He’s a favorite, and is priced accordingly. He slipped in qualifying and starts 22nd, so we need to have some shares despite the hefty salary.

Martin Truex Jr. (10200) – Truex is a favorite heading into this week’s race at the “Monster Mile”. He has only finished outside the top eleven one time in the last five years, and has finished in the top five in 4 of the last 5 races. His worst race was last fall when he still finished 15th. He was running 3rd in that race until a late race incident cost him. He’s led nearly 400 laps combined here in the last five years as well as dominated fastest laps with 87 in a single race. Look for Truex to have a good result this week. He rolls off 13th, but is capable of winning this event (+12 positional pts), as well as piling up dominator points. He’s in my core lineup this week.

Clint Bowyer (8500) – Bowyer ran up front in both races at Dover last year. A late race wreck cost him a good finish in the fall, but he came home 2nd in the spring race after leading 40 laps. He has consistently run up front here and his only finishes outside of the top 6 have come from misleading results due to mechanical issues or on track incidents. He starts farther forward than I’d like, but he’ll be in a few of my lines.

Kurt Busch (8900) – Busch has easily been one of the most consistent drivers of 2019. Despite being in a new car and driving for a new manufacturer (Chevy) that has mostly struggled all year, Busch just keeps running up front. He has an average finish of 6.9 this year minus superspeedways. He swept the top five here last year, with two 5th place results. Look for him to push for another top five this week and contend for the win. Starting 19th, he’s my top play of the week, and leads the way in my core lineup.

Jimmie Johnson (8200) – Here we once again have a driver that has a long history and an impressive resume on this track. Johnson has had a legendary career at Dover. He’s an 11 time winner who’s finished in the top five in 50% percent of his races here, and in the top ten 71% percent of the time. Unfortunately for JJ, those dominant days are past him. He’s still competitive on certain tracks, and with Dover being such a high skill track, he has to be considered this week given his experience. In 4 of the last 5 races he’s finished in the top ten. The only bad result was last fall where mechanical issues derailed his day before the race ever went green. He finished 9th in the spring race, and won here the spring before that in 2017. He continues to be overpriced by DK, and I’m not overly fond of him starting 12th, but I do have exposure to him in a couple of lines because his history here simply can’t be ignored.

Kyle Larson (8000) – Dover is a welcome sight for Kyle Larson. His overall average finish is 8.5, and in 9 of his 10 races at “The Monster Mile” he’s finished in the top 12. Last spring at Dover he had a good race despite starting in the rear of the field and overcoming a pit road penalty. When the checkered flag waved he finished 10th. In 2017, Larson was a contender to win both races leading 137 laps in the fall race, and 241 in the spring event. He was running away with the spring race until a late caution brought him back to the field and he ended up with a 2nd place result. He has struggled this year and we need to keep a close eye on his speeds and qualifying position before rostering him, but he’s definitely on our radar at Dover. Larson has posted a 7.3 average finish in the last four Dover races. Update…despite his 2019 struggles, and starting position of 3rd, he’s ridiculously underpriced and will be in a few of my lines.

Ryan Newman (7900) – Newman, much like JJ, has had a remarkable career at Dover. He has his #6 Roush Fenway Racing team running the best it has in several years. He’s been in or near the top ten in the last 3 non-superspeedway events and is someone we want to have on our radar every week as long as his salary stays in the 7k range. Early in Newman’s career he owned Dover, being a regular fixture in the top five and top ten. Also like JJ though, in 6 of the last 8 races here he’s finished in the teens. He finished 4th in spring 2017. I have his range this week as low to high-teens. Starting 21st, and on a track that favors veterans, he’s in play.

Chris Buescher (7300) – Buescher is having a career year. He’s been competitive everywhere, and despite his career average finish of 23.2 at Dover, I look for him to have a good week again. I have him at mid teens to low 20’s. I would caution against looking too closely at his history due to his current blistering pace so far this season. It would be more advisable to use the history as a starting point, and bump him up from there. He qualified 30th, and if he can get to the teens, that’s great value.

Ty Dillon (6400) – Dillon’s history at Dover is bad, but don’t count him out. RCR has upped their game this season and he just keeps tossing past history out the window at nearly every single race this year. His average finish of 24.2 here would be about where I would put his floor this week, with a ceiling near the high teens. His average finish at non-superspeedways in 2019 is 17.5, and that’s a reasonable expectation for this weekend. He did lead 27 laps here back in 2017, but I wouldn’t look too closely at that as it was a result of pit strategy and staying out when others pitted. He rolls off in 25th so it’s a tight window, but I think he’ll give us the positional points we’re looking for at a salary we need in order to roster some of the heavyweights this week.

Ryan Preece (6500) – Preece continues to impress. Over the last five races at non-superspeedways, his average finish is 21.2. I would consider that a good median finish to shoot for. Last year at Dover in the Xfinity Series, Preece competed in one race in the fall event. Driving Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, he finished 4th. He qualified 29th, and that gives us a target of 8 positional points if he can get to his average of 21st. At his salary, that’s good value.

Four drivers…Bowyer (7.0), Kurt Busch (8.0), Logano (8.5) and Blaney (9.0) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the four races this season with this week’s 750 horsepower rules package. Newman has finished in the top 10 in the last three races this season. Elliott set a track record (165.960 mph) in taking the pole for Sunday’s race, but being on the pole means he’ll need lots of dominator points to pay off.

For those of you that place wagers on the winner…45% percent of race winners at Dover have come from a top three starting spot (Elliott, Byron, Larson start 1-2-3).…Jimmie Johnson was the last driver to win from the pole in 2010…Chevrolet has won eight of the last 12 races at Dover which further plays into the top 3 starters this weekend.

Other drivers I like are Elliott, Harvick, Suarez and Jones.

Dominator potentials this week are Elliott, Larson and Harvick.

Movers this week are Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Truex, and Buescher.

Fades for me this week are Byron, Bowman, and DiBenedetto.

My pick to win the race this week is none other than Kevin Harvick. He’s due, and nobody has been more dominant at Dover in recent years, than Harvick. If you’re looking for a bit of a long shot, Bowyer would be my pick.