Jeff Wolfe · Thursday May 30, 2013
We’ve had the Daytona 500, been to Talladega and Bristol, and then spent the last couple of weeks in Charlotte for the All-Star race and the 600-miler. And the NASCAR Sprint Cup season is one-third of the way finished.
So, some of these upcoming races such as Dover this week, and Pocono and Michigan that are coming up, aren’t necessarily considered glamour stops for NASCAR, but the points and finishes there count just the same as any other track. And that’s why in these next 12 races, you’ll see the best teams rise to the top. They treat each track they go to as an opportunity to win and gain points.
So with that in mind, here’s a look at this week’s picks.
LOOKING FOR SOME ACES
As for the elite drivers, and even if you are on pick limits for drivers, there’s really just one place to look this week. And you can boo him all you want for whatever reason you want, but the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson is the pick here and my pick to win this week. Five-timer has seven wins in 22 races at Dover, and he also has nine other top 10 finishes. He has also led 2,318 laps at the Monster Mile and will be looking to become the first driver to win eight Sprint Cup races there. Also keep in mind, that for whatever reason, he hasn’t won the fall race at Dover the past two years, making the spring race the place and time to pick him.
Another driver who has had success at Dover, but is with a new team this year is Matt Kenseth. The driver of the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing moved over from Roush-Fenway Racing and has been having more success this year with three wins (well the one win was all but taken away, but it still counts as an official victory). So, given his success at Dover with Roush, he may be in line for more success Sunday. Kenseth has two wins and 11 other top five finishes there in 28 races.
Also, don’t forget about the defending champion. Brad Keselowski has raced in the Sprint Cup Series at Dover just six times, but he does have one victory there. One thing to keep in mind though before picking Keselowski is that the victory last fall has been his only top 10 finish on the concrete mile and he has led just 16 laps there.
A driver I will avoid this week is Tony Stewart. While he does have two wins in 28 races there, he hasn’t been a factor there of late. In Stewart’s last four races, he has an average finish of 24.75. Even in is remarkable run to the title in 2011 when he won five of the 10 races in the Chase for the Championship, Dover was the one blemish in that run.
However, I said essentially the same thing about Kevin Harvick and Charlotte last week, and he went on to win. So if you’re a Smoke fan, this may be good news…
MIDDLE OF THE ROAD
When looking at the career numbers at Dover for some of these drivers, I was a bit surprised to find one driver who had a better career average finish there then Jimmie Johnson. Strange but true. That driver would be Carl Edwards who in 17 races at Dover has an average finish of 8.29. Edwards does have one win there, but consistency has been his biggest asset . He has 12 top 10 finishes and has only finished outside the top 20 once. So if you want a bit of a safety pick this week, Edwards might be your guy.
Another guy to look at in this group is Martin Truex Jr. The New Jersey native’s only career win came at Dover in 2007. Truex would love to get win No. 2 anywhere, but it would be especially sweet for him to get it close to home. He does have six top 10 finishes there in 14 races and has sat on the pole twice at Dover, which always has value in these days where drivers crave clean air.
There too is always Kyle Busch, who started quickly this season but has been bit by bad luck and most recently a camera suspension cable in recent weeks. The question, if you are on race pick limits for drivers, is where and when to use this Busch. He does have two wins and eight other top 10 finishes at Dover, so if you don’t use him this week, you can save him for the fall race.
Everybody is always looking for that sleeper pick to give them a top 15, or who knows, even a top 10 finish. As is the case pretty much every week, the two regular choices here are Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick. The two are dating and the relationship seemed to survive its first public test when Stenhouse accidentally bumped Patrick Sunday night, causing her to crash into Keselowski.
Stenhouse did run a Sprint Cup race at Dover last fall and finished 12th, so there is a little something to go on there. But you might want to save him for later in the season if you are on pick limits. Patrick, with the exception of a couple of races, hasn’t been competitive, so you might want to save her for either of the road races, where her IndyCar experience will help her, or at restrictor plate tracks.
The one pick to look at this week is the driver of the No. 51 car, which is Austin Dillon. He is on a limited Sprint Cup schedule, so this is one of the weeks where he is available and worth taking a long look at if you need a cheaper option to fill out your roster.
The race for the overall lead in the two Frontstretch Fantasy Leagues on Yahoo! got a lot closer after last week’s 600-miler in Charlotte. The cdakost team has the lead with 3,198 points, but it’s not a comfortable one. Also in the mix among the 63 teams are SiLo Sounds Racing with 3,193 points and Underbird with 3,185 points. This competition may yet prove that every point does indeed count.
The top point scorer last week at Charlotte was Underbird with 351 points. The top lineup was second-place finisher Kasey Kahne, third-place Kurt Busch, fifth-place Joey Logano and 16th place Trevor Bayne. So there’s your winning combination: A Kahne, a Bayne, a Busch and some sliced bread.
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