After a wild, flip-flopping Talladega race, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to another track that can bite your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings roster. Dover International Speedway, also known as the “Monster Mile,” is a one-mile oval that can cause havoc for drivers. Miles the Monster is hungry for another car to devour, especially during a weekend of record-setting speeds. Make sure none of your DraftKings fantasy drivers are one of his treats!
The 2019 Gander RV 400 (Sunday, May 5, 2 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1) will feature a higher-horsepower package and no aero ducts on the cars. The vehicles were very fast in first practice Friday (May 3) with five cars breaking the track record in qualifying. If there are cloudy skies again on Sunday, then the cars will probably be fast again.
The last winner who started a Dover race outside of the top 15 was Tony Stewart in the spring 2013 race. However, none of the winners since then have started on the pole. Based on this fact, if you want the winner in your lineup, you probably will want someone who qualified in the top 15. Remember, though, you don’t necessarily need the winner in your lineup to cash in with DraftKings (especially if he only leads the final lap).
Check before the race Sunday to see if you need to make any changes to your roster. If a driver wrecks during practice Saturday and needs to go to a backup car, he will go to the rear. That means he would still be scored from where he qualified and could affect your lineup negatively.
Now, here are my picks!
Note: “Q” indicates qualifying position
Kyle Busch ($12,400) Q: 22
Career at Dover: 28 starts, 3 wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 14.8
For the first time in what seems like forever, Kyle Busch made my fantasy picks. However, he’s starting this Dover race in his worst position at the track since 2007 (22nd). But when Busch started 22nd that day, he finished the race in fifth.
That’s an upward trend which has continued here throughout Busch’s career. Also, from 2014 and beyond, he’s finished far better in the fall than the spring race. Busch’s last Dover win came in October 2017.
Last week at Talladega, he also qualified 22nd (before going to the back for unapproved adjustments). But Busch still ended the race inside the top 10! He has not finished outside of the top 10 yet so far this year. That consistency puts him atop my fantasy picks. Busch can give you points for positive place differential and fastest laps as all the Joe Gibbs Racing cars have been fast this season.
Kevin Harvick ($11,300) Q: 6
Career at Dover: 36 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 17 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 14.2
I’m sure as much as Miles the Monster is hungry for cars, Harvick is hungry for a win after getting shut out thus far in 2019. He runs very well at Dover and actually won this race last year. Starting sixth Sunday, the three times Harvick started sixth here he finished second twice and 37th once (in the fall 2016 race).
Harvick led 30 laps at Richmond two weeks ago and scored 70 DraftKings points. He starts one spot ahead of Aric Almirola, his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate. Almirola is another good option based on his 2019 consistency to date. The veteran can provide some good value and would be a good stack with Harvick (if you choose to do so). Just keep in mind Almirola’s car chief, Chad Haney, was ejected after the No. 10 Ford failed pre-qualifying inspection twice.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,200) Q: 12
Career at Dover: 34 starts, 11 wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 9.9
If there’s any track Jimmie Johnson can come back from a struggling finish, it’s Dover. He practically owns this facility. In fact, in four of his past five races here he earned top-10 finishes. One of those was his most recent victory (spring 2017).
Johnson’s best finish so far in 2019 is fifth (at Texas). He does have four top-10 finishes, though as the No. 48 Chevrolet appears on the upswing. Last week, he wasn’t able to join up with his fellow Hendrick teammates up front at Talladega Superspeedway due to damage from early wall contact. It’s unlikely that type of lightning will strike twice.
This week, Hendrick Motorsports race teams are very fast. Chase Elliott won the pole, inching out his teammate William Byron. Elliott, the reigning GEICO 500 winner, has high upside in fantasy. He had a very fast car at Martinsville, another smaller track, where he led 49 laps, had 82 fast laps, and scored 100 DraftKings points. Elliott’s risky and pricier than his cohorts, so keep that in mind when making your lineups.
Kyle Larson ($8,000) Q: 3
Career at Dover: 10 starts, 0 wins, 4 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 8.5
This is one of Larson’s best starts so far this year. He doesn’t just need a good qualifying run, though. He needs a great finish! Dover could be a track where his bad luck turns around, as he has seven top 10s out of his 10 starts. Larson’s worst finish at the Monster Mile was 25th back in the Fall 2016 race.
The Chevrolet driver does have two top 10s in 2019, at Daytona and Phoenix. However, he’s finished out of the top 10 six straight times and wrecked in three of those events. His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, has looked to be the better finisher so far this year. Kurt Busch is starting further back than he hoped (19th) after being fastest in the opening practice session.
Based on Larson’s season and starting position, he is a dangerous fantasy play, and could very well lead laps like he did at Atlanta. Sunday’s race will be intriguing for him.
Daniel Suarez ($7,700) Q: 14
Career at Dover: 4 starts, 0 wins, 1 top fives, 4 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 6.8
Suarez has a limited history at Dover, but it’s proved to be one of his best tracks. He has never finished a race there lower than 10th. This year, Harvick and Almirola’s SHR teammate has seemingly raced faster every week. Prior to Talladega, he scored three straight races of 50+ DraftKings points. Though in two of those races, he started in the mid-lower pack, he did start fourth at Texas and finished third.
If Suarez can stay out of Miles the Monster’s way, he can again earn a top-10 finish, providing good value for his price.
William Byron ($6,700) Q: 2
Career at Dover: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 16.5
All the Hendrick cars looked extremely fast in first practice and qualifying. In fact, Byron was the first qualifier to break the track record, holding the pole position until Elliott ran his lap. He has the chance to lead some laps over his teammate as long as he stays out of trouble.
Last week, Byron had the potential to finish well until a last-lap crash. At Texas, however, he scored 46 DraftKings points, where he led 15 laps and had 16 fastest laps. Byron’s price was $600 higher back then, so if he can do the same here and finish near the front, he will be great value for your lineup.
Dark Horse Performer
Typically, I will have one driver here, but I just couldn’t decide on who to choose. Preece is $900 more than Tifft, but both are still very cheap. Preece ran at Dover in October last year for JGR in the Xfinity Series. He started 11th and finished in fourth position. Last week at ‘Dega, Preece finished third and scored 71 DraftKings points! That’s incredible upside. Such a score is harder to attain here, but in NASCAR, anything is possible.
Tifft, on the other hand, retired early from the race last week because a radiator pan went through his nose. Until that craziness, he had been fairly consistent in earning right around 20-30 DraftKings points. He definitely can do that Sunday, since he’s starting 32nd. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he finished in the top 10 in all of his Dover starts except his final one last year. Look for him to give you value points as well.