The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend. The one-mile, concrete oval will host Sunday's Drydene 400, and as the track's nickname suggests, the "Monster Mile" has been known to chew up a car or two.
Last year, COVID-19 resulted in a weekend doubleheader of shortened races at Dover, but the typical 400-lap distance will return in 2021. Often referred to as a momentum track, finding a rhythm at Dover is crucial, and clean air is critical. Not surprisingly, this is a track where one or two drivers can lead for long stretches.
From a fantasy standpoint, Dover is one track where I tend to lean heavily on recent results. For whatever reason, certain drivers seem to go on dominant stretches at the Monster Mile. From Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon reeling off three-peats to Jimmie Johnson making this place his personal playground for a decade or so, we have seen some great runs of success here. Recently, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have been locked in here.
I won't be ignoring what we have seen on the track so far in 2021 by any means, but unlike races at mile-and-a-half tracks where I rely heavily on results from this season, past results at Dover carry a lot of weight for me at Dover.
- Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has been on a special run at Dover, logging eight top-5s in his last nine starts, including a couple of wins. He has a win and three runner-up efforts in his last four starts alone, leading 80+ laps twice in that span. Truex should be your top target in just about every format.
- Kyle Larson: The last time Larson was in a Cup race at Dover, he led 154 laps and went to victory lane. He has a 7.5 average finish at the track overall, and he has five top-5s in eight career starts here, including four finishes of third or better. This is a good spot to use up one of his starts in the Driver Group Game.
- Kevin Harvick: He has reeled off six straight finishes of sixth or better at Dover, and Harvick has led more than 200 laps three separate times in that stretch. He led 223 laps in a win in the second race here last August, sweeping both stages in the process. Harvick should be a top-5 play in all formats.
- Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has turned around his fortunes at Dover, and a track that used to give him nightmares has become a good spot for him. He has finished seventh or better in four of his last six starts here, and he has led at least 115 laps in two of the last three races, winning the first Dover race last season.
- Chase Elliott: An early crash and an engine failure in recent trips to Dover bring down his averages slightly, but Elliott still ranks second in the series with seven top-5s in the last 10 races here, including three in the last five races. In terms of upside, Elliott deserves to be considered among the top plays this weekend.
- Kyle Busch: Busch hasn't been leading a ton of laps at Dover recently, but Busch has finished 11th or better in his last five starts here, finishing third in the first race last season. Busch isn't a leading dominator candidate for DFS contests, but he is a safe bet for a strong finish on Sunday.
- Brad Keselowski: He finished ninth and eighth in the two races at Dover last season, and overall, Keselowski has been one of the steadier performers at the one-mile track. He has nine top-15s in the last 10 races here, including seven straight. Keselowski also has six top-10s in that span, albeit to go along with just a single top-5 finish. He isn't likely to go out and dominate the race, but he is a high-floor, top-10 fantasy option this weekend.
- Alex Bowman: If you are looking for a surprise contender this weekend, look no further than Bowman. He has three top-5s in the last four races here, including a pair of top-3 finishes in 2019. This should be a great track to use him for Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game, and his mid-pack starting spot gives him DFS upside, as well.
- Ryan Blaney: Since jumping in the Team Penske No. 12 machine, Blaney has finished in the top 15 in five of his six starts at Dover. More importantly, he was a serious contender in the second race here last year, leading 37 laps and logging 15 stage points. He doesn't have the resume of the elite Dover performers, but Blaney will have top-5 upside on Sunday.
- Joey Logano: Dover won't be on the shortlist of Logano's best tracks, and over the last 10 races here, he has just a single top-5 and has led a total of 40 laps. On the flip side, he finished eighth and sixth in the two Dover races last year and has four top-10s in the last five races. Logano might not carry a fantasy lineup, but he should be firmly in the mix for a top-10.
- William Byron: Byron had a breakout performance of sorts at Dover last year when he finished fourth and earned 13 stage points in the second of two races at the track. He now has four top-15s and a pair of top-10s in six starts here overall, and with the arrow seemingly pointing up, he is a potential X-factor for fantasy lineups this weekend.
- Austin Dillon: Dillon has been respectable at Dover throughout his career, and he has a 16.4 average finish and eight top-20s in his last 10 starts. Last year, he delivered two solid outings at the track, leading 49 laps in the first race and logging a top-10 in the second leg of the doubleheader. He has some potential as a sleeper in the DGG this weekend.
- Christopher Bell: He didn't have much success at Dover as a rookie, but the offseason move to Joe Gibbs Racing should help rectify that. Bell won two of his four XFINITY starts here while driving for JGR, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him contend for a top-10 this weekend. I love him as a GPP option at the DFS sites.
- Kurt Busch: He was involved in an early wreck in the first Dover race in 2020, but Busch has cracked the top 15 in three of his four starts here for Chip Ganassi Racing and in five of his last six starts at the track overall. Busch should be a solid alternative to the elite Group B options in the DGG, and a starting spot outside the top 20 boosts his DFS appeal.
- Chris Buescher: Buescher has been a borderline top-15 performer all season, and the trend should continue this weekend at Dover. He finished 16th and 14th in the two races here last season, which happened to be his first two Dover starts with Roush Fenway Racing. Buescher could be a sneaky Group B starter in the DGG this weekend.
- Aric Almirola: His numbers at Dover have been pedestrian for the most part, but Almirola has finished 17th or better in all six of his starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing. He did have a particularly solid outing in the second race last year, leading 22 laps and finishing seventh. Still, another top-10 is probably a bit optimistic. Almirola is a fringe top-15 option, but he is starting so deep that he does have decent DFS value.
- Matt DiBenedetto: Although he led double-digit laps in both Dover races last year, DiBenedetto didn't have great speed overall and ended up finishing 17th and 20th in the two events. Considering he has been a top-15 machine for much of 2021, I do expect a decent showing out of him this weekend, but there are plenty of midrange options who project as better plays.
- Tyler Reddick: Reddick had a decent rookie season at Dover, following up a top-15 run in his track debut with an 18th-place finish in the second race of the weekend doubleheader. A top-15 is on the table, but as volatile as he has been this season, Reddick is a boom-or-bust option that I would only target for DFS contests.
- Cole Custer: His sophomore season has been a struggle, but Dover was one of Custer's best tracks in his rookie campaign. After finishing 11th in the first race, he notched a 10th-place finish in the second event. This could be the week to roll the dice on Custer as a Group C option in the Driver Group Game and at the DFS starts.
- Ryan Newman: He is a multi-time winner at Dover, but Newman has struggled a bit at the track in recent years. He has just one top-10 in his last 10 starts here, and he has six straight finishes outside the top 15. You just can't count on more than a top-20 from Newman on Sunday, which limits his fantasy appeal.
- Ross Chastain: Chastain has established himself as a top-20 performer with top-15 upside, and while that limits his fantasy value in some formats, it represents a solid outlook for a Group C option in the Driver Group Game. I think you can plug him in for Dover and expect a decent result.
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: In true Stenhouse fashion, he has had his share of bad finishes at Dover over the years. However, he has managed to crack the top 20 in seven of the last 10 races here, logging five top-15s in that span. Don't forget about him when looking for a game-changer for your DFS lineups.
- Daniel Suarez: Suarez and his Trackhouse Racing Team have been one of the bigger surprises of 2021, and the No. 99 bunch could be primed for another respectable effort this weekend. Suarez had four top-10s, and six top-15s in six Dover starts between Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, and I wouldn't rule out a top-20. Keep him in mind as a Group C option for the DGG.
- Erik Jones: He put up solid numbers at Dover with Joe Gibbs Racing, posting a 13.0 average finish in eight starts. Unfortunately, his success at particular tracks hasn't translated over to Richard Petty Motorsports. Best-case scenario, Jones grinds out a top-20.
- Bubba Wallace: The move to 23XI Racing has helped in some areas, but it certainly hasn't elevated Wallace into a different tier. I'm not optimistic about his chances this weekend at Dover either. Wallace has a 23.8 average finish in six starts here, and he has never finished better than 20th.
- Chase Briscoe: The rookie is coming off his best performance at the Cup level, but he has toiled in the middle of the pack just about every week, battling to approach the top 20. Briscoe is no more than a shot-in-the-dark DFS play this weekend.
- Michael McDowell: McDowell has overachieved on all fronts this season, but Dover has been tough on him. He has finished outside the top 20 in his last seven starts here, finishing 26th and 25th in the two races here last season. This isn't the spot to use him as your Group C option in the DGG.
- Ryan Preece: Not that he has many tracks on the schedule where he has performed well, but Dover certainly isn't one of them. Preece has a 24.5 average finish in four starts, finishing 25th or worse three times. He is a DFS lottery ticket, at best.
- Anthony Alfredo: You know going into the race that the best-case scenario with Alfredo is a top-25. He can be a DFS punt play if you are looking for significant cap relief, but he is drawing dead on fantasy value in the season-long contests.
- Justin Haley: Haley has been able to sneak into the top 30 just about every week, but even a top-25 finish might be a stretch. He's a reach, even as a DFS punt play.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.
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