The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover was one of the best of the season as Tony Stewart made the winning pass on Juan Pablo Montoya with three laps to go, for what will be Stewart’s only win of the season. He won’t have a chance to sweep the Monster Mile due to suffering a broken leg in a sprint car accident later in the summer.
However, a lot of other things have changed in NASCARLAND since that day. Mainly, we’ve got an on-fire Matt Kenseth, and almost as on-fire Kyle Busch coming into the third race of the Chase. Then, too, you’ve got Jimmie Johnson coming into one of his best tracks sitting in third in the standings.
Keep those there pieces of information in mind when doling out this week’s fantasy advice.
LOOKING FOR SOME ACES
Yes, when it comes to needing a win to put himself in prime position to challenge Kenseth and Busch, Jimmie Johnson is at the perfect track . He may have well won the June race at Dover had he not been snookered by Montoya on a late restart, which caused Johnson to cross the start-finish line well ahead of Montoya on a restart, leading to a penalty on Johnson and opening the door for Stewart. In his last six races at Dover, Johnson has one win and three other top 10 finishes for an average finish of 6.60.He also has the most wins among active drivers with six victories here, so if you’ve been saving Johnson to use in Chase races — now is the time to include him in your lineup.
Kenseth’s average finish at Dover in the last five races is just 16.80, but don’t be fooled by that number. It’s skewed by a 40th place finish and in his last five races at Dover, Kenseth has a win and two other top five finishes and the way he’s going right now, no one would be surprised to see him make it three in a row this weekend.
The defending champion of the fall race at Dover though is non-Chase participant Brad Keselowski. The win certainly helped propel him to the title last year. Keselowski also has one other top five finish there in the last five races, so don’t him out just because he is out of the Chase.
MIDDLE OF THE ROADSTERS
Kyle Busch began this season a mid-level type of pick due to last year’s disappointment non-Chase making season. Busch has since been among the elite all season long and is just behind Kenseth with two second-place finishes in the first two Chase races. When it comes to Dover, Busch has four top 10s in the last five races, and had last year’s event in hand when fuel economy proved to be his undoing with 10 laps to go. The real thing to look at for him is that he has led 453 laps, including 150 this past June, in those five races, second only to Johnson in laps led in that time span. Busch is another driver you should make room for if at all possible this week.
Another interesting driver to look at is the other Busch, Kurt. He led eight laps in the June race at Dover when he eventually finished 12th. Busch also has a win in the last five races, back when he was still with Penske Racing in 2011, which seems like forever ago.
A driver whose Chase chances all but ended with a blown engine at Chicagoland is Joey Logano. But he ran pretty well at Dover in June and now he’s pretty much in a go-for-the-win mode. Logano finished seventh in the first Monster Mile race this season and does have three top 10s in the last five races there.
Another Ford guy to look at would be Carl Edwards. He has two top fives and a top 10 in the last five races there but has also led 233 laps in those races. He didn’t run great at Dover in June, just finishing 14th, but the fact that the team is 36 points behind Kenseth and knows it needs a big performance at Dover to keep itself in the picture as contenders, makes me think the No. 99 team will be on top of its game this weekend.
Let’s not also forget Brian Vickers here, either. He’s run just two of the last five races at Dover, but has a fifth and 14th to show for it. And now that he’s full-time in the No. 55,that should help him run a little better, no matter which track he’s at.
The entry list this week isn’t actually that helpful when looking for that low budget or rarely used pick, but there are a couple of options.
First, there is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He was a very respectable 13th in the June Dover race and he finished 12th at Dover in his only other Sprint Cup appearance there. So, if you’ve got room in your budget or picks left for him, then don’t be afraid to take him this week.
The other top choice in this category is AJ Allmendinger, who will be driving the No. 47. In his seven career starts at Dover, he does have a seventh-place finish to his credit. Also, with his limited schedule, it’s never a bad idea to take Allmendinger in this slot while he is available.
One interesting choice to look at is Ryan Truex, who will be in the No. 51 this week. If you think that Truex can finish in the top 20, then maybe he is worth a look here. But given that he is in just his second Sprint Cup race, and first Sprint Cup race at Dover, it’s hard to have any kind of certainty that he will get that top 20 finish.One other possible option, too, is Casey Mears in the No. 13. He finished 16th in the June Dover race, and when you’re trying to find a low-budget or rarely used option, he is worth a look here. But do take note that was Mears only finish inside the top 20 in the last five races at Dover.
Lastly, there is always Danica Patrick. But at this point, if she stays on the lead lap at one of these short tracks, that’s really a pretty good accomplishment. Patrick has finished 24th and 28th in two races at Dover, so you know, that top 20 finish could be in the making.
The race for the overall lead in the two Frontstretch Fantasy Leagues on Yahoo! continues to be a tight one. With eight races remaining, SiLo Sounds Racing is clinging to the lead with 6,994 points, followed by RWO Motoring with 6,989, Nobody Rides For Free with 6,986, Bomb Squad with 6,942 and Underbird with 6,884.
The top weekly score for the New Hampshire race came from Bomb Squad with 317 points. The top combination consisted of race winner Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers in seventh, Ryan Newman in 16th and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 24th.
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