The Frontstretch: Fantasy Insider: In the Clutches of the Monster (Trophy) by Mike Neff -- Thursday September 24, 2009

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Fantasy Insider: In the Clutches of the Monster (Trophy)

Mike Neff · Thursday September 24, 2009

 

From magic to monsters, this week the Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover to tackle another one-mile oval that, while the same length as NHMS, bears no resemblance to the flat-track of Loudon. Fast, high-banked and treacherously confined, Dover truly is a Monster Mile, be it its ultra-tight pit road or its boiler-plate steel retaining walls. And while last week’s race may have marked the start of the 10-race “playoff,” Dover will exceed its intensity, as those with momentum will strive to maintain…and those without it will be fighting for their seasons’ lives to get back on track. 400 miles on the high banks, high tempers and a high probability for wrecks are all on Sunday’s agendas, and the Frontstretch Fantasy Insider will have your team riding high above all the calamities that “Bristol on steroids” will see.

By the Numbers

Best Average Finish at Dover International Speedway (since 2005, active drivers)
Greg Biffle, 9 starts, 4.7
Carl Edwards, 9 starts, 6.4
Jimmie Johnson, 9 starts, 7.3
Mark Martin, 9 starts, 8.7
Jeff Burton, 9 starts, 8.9

2008 Camping World RV 400 Top 5 Finishers
Greg Biffle, 29 laps led
Matt Kenseth, 136 laps led
Carl Edwards, 85 laps led
Mark Martin, 0 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, 81 laps led

Excellent drivers

Jimmie Johnson’s drive for four consecutive Cup titles took no hits after Chase round one yielded a fourth place finish for the No. 48 team. And now they head to Dover, a track that’s been nothing but kind to the Lowe’s bunch. Johnson has two poles, four wins and a streak of 10 consecutive top 15 finishes to his credit at Dover, and as Loudon showed last week this team had no problems gaining momentum when it counted. Johnson will be a top 5 runner all day Sunday and will challenge for the win. Bryan

Carl Edwards did not start off his Chase hunt as he would have liked to. While a 17th place finish is not a death sentence for a title run, it is certainly a black eye in the uber competitive world of today’s Cup series. Edwards heads to a concrete track looking for some momentum in the right direction. Edwards has run quite well on concrete surfaces in his career, and has the highest average finish among active drivers at Dover. With a win, two seconds and two thirds, half of Edwards’ finishes have been top three runs, and those five finishes are in his last six starts. Expect to see Edwards reassert himself in the Chase with a very strong performance this weekend. Mike

High risk drivers

Ryan Newman has posted four consecutive top 10 finishes and has three victories at Dover, making him a good choice for your fantasy team this week.

Did you notice that Ryan Newman suddenly has four top 10 finishes in a row to his credit? Don’t worry, there aren’t many out there that have, but fantasy owners would be foolish to ignore the Rocketman this weekend. Arguably Newman’s best track on the Cup circuit, Dover has yielded three wins and four poles to the Indiana native. Plus, Newman’s average finish at Dover when he’s been a Chase contender? 3.0. The No. 39 has suddenly become the frontrunner at SHR, and this weekend can only help their cause. Bryan

Tony Stewart had a very strong run going last weekend before a fluke problem with his axle cap cost him some extra time on pit road and resulted in a 14th place finish. Stewart still looks like he is getting quality equipment from Hendrick Motorsports. Stewart’s average finish at Dover is 12.1, which is fifth among active drivers. He’s visited Victory Lane twice at the Monster Mile and he was second in the Spring race. Stewart is still a favorite to win the title this year, he just needs to get the finish that his car is capable of. Mike

Uninsurables

Marcos Ambrose has a career average finish of 26.0 at Dover, which is hardly going to raise any eyebrows. But look closer and you’ll see that, just as with every other track on the NASCAR circuit this year, the Aussie has shown tremendous improvement on Dover’s concrete banks. After finishing five laps down in 32nd during his debut at Dover last year, Ambrose came back this spring to a lead lap finish in the top 20. Those kind of numbers are exactly what fantasy owners needing a bargain like to see. Bryan

Sam Hornish Jr. has had a few strong runs this season, one of which was a 13th place finish at Dover. Hornish has raced at Dover three times in the Cup series and has two top 20 finishes. It is certainly a risk to run Hornish, but most of the C list drivers are a risk on a weekly basis. Hornish is looking like the best of the risks for his weekend. Mike

The Last Word

Dover is sometimes referred to as Bristol on Steroids. The Monster Mile is called a monster because it can rear up and grab unsuspecting competitors at any time. One big risk this weekend for Fantasy players is that it can be easy for a driver to get caught up in someone else’s mess. With such fast laps and high banks, visibility is restricted which can result in a driver driving into an accident that it looks like he should avoid. Look to utilize Chasers again this week because they will generally be up front and have the best chance to miss someone’s dustup.

Results of our Experts in the Frontstretch Fantasy games

Game of Tomorrow

Bryan – 7263
Mike – 6770

Hat Dance

Bryan – 5387
Mike – 5389

Four Play

Bryan – 13936
Mike – 12388

Chase Challenge

Mike – 175

In order to help the readers track how well our experts are doing, we’ll keep track of the cumulative points scored by all three drivers every week, as well as the total for the season.

Driver Totals

Bryan – 386 9040
Mike – 377 8878

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