The Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend, and the "Monster Mile" is set to host Sunday's Drydene 400. As the nickname suggests, Dover is a one-mile oval, and while the track's banked, concrete surface provides multiple grooves, side-by-side racing can prove dangerous as drivers fight for the same real estate on the exit of turns.
It isn't uncommon to see a few significant wrecks at Dover, and attrition can start to come into play if there is a wreck on a restart. There just isn't much room off the racing surface for drivers to avoid trouble, which helps explain the "Monster" portion of Dover's nickname.
I like to stick with drivers who have been running well at Dover recently from a fantasy standpoint. Yes, I still factor in how drivers are performing this season, but more so than at many tracks, drivers seem to be able to go on extended hot streaks at Dover. In the last 10 races here, seven different drivers have finished in the top 10 in more than half their starts, and four have cracked the top 5 in at least half of them.
When building my lineups for Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game, I leaned heavily on the drivers who have performed well at Dover in recent years. I even followed a similar strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto contest. I did add a couple of cheaper drivers with place differential upside, but I anchored my lineup with a couple of Dover studs who are starting near the front.
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Martin Truex Jr.
Truex clobbered the competition last weekend at Darlington, and I think a repeat performance could be on tap Sunday. He will start from the pole, and Truex has finished inside the top 5 in eight of his last nine Dover starts, finishing either first or second in four straight. It could be a clean sweep for Truex.
He has been fast all season, and Larson has always run well at Dover. In fact, he went to victory lane in his last start here, leading 154 laps and notching 17 stage points in the fall of 2019. Larson owns a 7.5 average finish at the track overall, logging five top-5s in eight starts. He is set to start seventh, and I think double-digit stage points and a top-10 are his floor.
No, Harvick hasn't been dominating races as he has in recent years, but he still has nine top-10s through the first 12 races of 2021, including three straight finishes of sixth or better. Harvick won in dominating fashion in the second Dover race last year, and he has finished sixth or better in his last six starts at the track. Harvick starts on the front row, and I think he runs in or near the top 5 all afternoon.
Fresh off a top-5 at Darlington, Byron continues to enjoy an incredible 2021 season. He brings a streak of 10 straight top-10s into Dover, and he finished a career-best fourth here in the second race last season. Armed with a top-5 starting spot, I will try to ride Byron's momentum to another 40-point performance.
Elliott is a former winner at Dover, and he has been in the mix for several more wins at the track. His seven top-5s in the last 10 races here are the second-most in the series in that span, and rolling from Row 3, he is in a perfect position to add to that total on Sunday.
Garage Driver – Alex Bowman
He has to start towards the middle of the pack, but Bowman has delivered strong results at Dover recently. He has three top-5s in his last four starts at the track, including a pair of top-3 finishes in 2019. If he can move through the field quickly, I can swap him in for one of my more established starters.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
Martin Truex Jr. (A)
He has been on an incredible run at Dover in recent years, logging eight top-5s in his last nine starts at the track. Truex has a win and three runner-up finishes in his last four starts alone, and he finished in the top 5 in three of the four stages between the two races last season. Starting from the pole, I think he is the man to beat.
Kyle Larson (B)
I'm burning up another start from Larson, but he should be one of the main players for the win this weekend. After all, he led 154 laps and went to victory lane the last time he visited Dover, and he has a 7.5 average finish in eight career starts here. Larson has five top-5s in those eight races, finishing third or better four times.
William Byron (B)
I thought about his teammate, Alex Bowman, but Byron had a top-5 finish in his last
Ross Chastain (C)
Chastain might not have the highest ceiling among the Group C options, but he just keeps churning out top-20 finishes. In fact, he has finished 17th or better in five straight races. Cole Custer is a high-upside alternative. He has struggled in 2021, but he finished 11th and 10th in two Dover starts as a rookie.
Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto
Kyle Larson ($12,400)
Larson continued his strong 2021 campaign with a runner-up effort at Darlington, and I expect him to be right back in the mix for the win this weekend. He led 154 laps and picked up the win in his last Dover start, and he has five top-5s in eight career starts here.
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,300)
I don't roster the pole-sitter in this format very often, but without any of the elite guys starting deeper in the field, I am simply going with my pick to win Sunday. Truex has four straight finishes of second or better at Dover, and I wouldn't be surprised if he has a repeat of his Darlington performance from last weekend when he won both stages, led the most laps, and went to victory lane.
Christopher Bell ($9,000)
Bell didn't have much success at Dover as a rookie, but the move to Joe Gibbs Racing this season has changed his ceiling, making him a weekly top-10 threat. Bell won two of his four XFINITY starts at Dover, and I'm expecting a breakout performance at the track from him on Sunday. Set to start 15th, Bell should be in the mix for a solid finish, 10+ place differential points, and maybe some stage points.
Cole Custer ($8,400)
It has been a rough sophomore season for Custer, but he had two strong runs at Dover a year ago, finishing 11th and 10th, respectively. He gained 10 spots in the first race here, and he had an average running position inside the top 10 for both. He will start back in 29th, and I hope that Custer can recapture some of his rookie success at Dover and pile up some differential points.
Erik Jones ($7,800)
Jones was solid at Dover during his years with Joe Gibbs Racing, and while it is clear he won't be able to match his previous numbers now that he is with Richard Petty Motorsports, he has still put up his better results at his favorite tracks. He had top-10s at Las Vegas and Bristol, and he is coming off an 18th-place effort at Darlington. Jones will start 25th Sunday, and I think he can make his way into the top 20. He should be a solid addition for the price.
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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