The NASCAR Cup Series will compete at Dover International Speedway this week. This will be the first time the Gen-7 car races on a high-banked, intermediate track this year. The concrete surface at the “Monster Mile” builds up rubber quicker than most tracks on the schedule. If Goodyear brings the right tire to the track and the Gen-7 car performs as well as it has at the other intermediate tracks this year; the racing should be pretty good this week. The DuraMAX Drydene 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.
STRATEGY FOR DOVER
I really wish we had more data to use for our picks this week. Usually I use some of the data from the Bristol race for the picks at Dover, but the dirt race is completely different from the concrete race this week. The most similar track to use for data this week is Las Vegas. Both are intermediate tracks and Las Vegas is one of the steepest 1.5-mile tracks.
So what do we do this week? Do we focus our picks on the drivers who have had success at Dover in the Gen-6 car (Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.) or do we focus our picks on the drivers who have run well in the Gen-7 car this year at the intermediate tracks (Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain). I am using a combination of both. The drivers who ranked high in track history at Dover and ranked high in Driver Rating on the Intermediate Tracks in 2022 are the drivers who are in my lineup this week.
Here are the picks for the race Sunday at the Monster Mile…
DRIVER GROUP GAME LINEUP
GROUP A DRIVERS
KYLE LARSON (7): Do not look at the picks this week if you are not a fan of Hendrick Motorsports. I am all in on HMS this week. Larson has not been as good this year as he was last year, but he should put a 2021-like butt-kicking on the field Sunday. Dover ranks as the best track for Larson. He finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in his last three races at the Monster Mile. He also averaged 17 Stage Points and 140 laps led in the races. Larson was good in the Gen-7 car at Las Vegas (he finished 2nd) and he should have a great chance to win the race Sunday.
CHASE ELLIOTT (8): The stats suggest we use Martin Truex Jr. or Kevin Harvick in this spot, but can we trust these two veteran drivers? Truex and Harvick have been awesome at Dover but they have been unpredictable this year. The driver who has been the most consistent is Elliott. He has the best average finishing position in the Cup Series this year and he is the only driver with an average finishing position in the top-10. Elliott was good at Dover last year. He started 8th, scored 16 Stage Points and finsished 3rd. I plan on using Kyle Larson in the race, so I will be relying on Elliott for qualifying points. He started on the pole in 2 of the last 5 races at Dover.
GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Kyle Larson 2) Chase Elliott 3) Martin Truex Jr. 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Kyle Busch 6) Ryan Blaney 7) Denny Hamlin
GROUP B DRIVERS
WILLIAM BYRON (6): The No. 24 car has been the fastest car this year at the intermediate tracks. Byron ranks No. 1 in Driver Rating, No. 1 in Average Running Position and No. 1 in Driver Group Game Points at the tracks between .75-mile and 1.5-miles in length. Willy-B has also been good at Dorver. He finished his last two races at the Monster Mile in fourth-place. He also averaged 13 Stage Points in those races. I would not be surprised if “Liberty Bill” won his third race this week.
ALEX BOWMAN (8): Bowman won the last race a Dover and he did not “back into Victory Lane.” Bowman led 98 laps and scored 11 Stage Points on his way to Victory Lane. Hendrick Motorsports finished No. 1 (Bowman), No. 2 (Larson), No. 3 (Elliott) and No. 4 (Byron) in the race. The HMS cars all rank in the top-six in Driver Rating on the Intermediate Tracks this year. I will have Bowman in my lineup and hope for another Hendrick Motorsports sweep Sunday.
JOEY LOGANO (7): I want drivers who rank high in track history and in 2022 performance on the Intermediate Tracks. Logano checks both boxes. He has not had the speed to win races this year but he has consistently finished in the top-10 at the intermediate tracks. Logano also has not had the speed to win at Dover but he has consistently finished in the top-10 at the Monster Mile. Logano probably will not win the race Sunday, but he is a safe driver to have in your lineup. The No. 22 car will score a lot of Stage Points and finish in the top-10 this week.
ROSS CHASTAIN (8): If you told me before the season began that I would play Chastain at Dover I would have laughed at you, but here we are. Chastain has been one of the best drivers in the sport this year. The most similar tracks to Dover is the high-banked Intermediate Track at Las Vegas. Chastain led the most laps and finished 3rd in Sin City. That speed and his momentum after his win last week should translate into a good run Sunday. Chastain finished 15th at Dover last year. His Trackhouse Racing car is much better than what he had with Chip Ganassi Racing last year.
GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) William Byron 2) Alex Bowman 3) Joey Logano 4) Ross Chastain 5) Tyler Reddick 6) Austin Dillon 7) Aric Almirola 8) Brad Keselowski 9) Kurt Busch 10) Christopher Bell
GROUP C DRIVERS
AUSTIN CINDRIC (6): My first thought for Group C was…. I better save Cindric for the road course races. Then I remembered that AJ Allmendiger is competing in all of the road courses races so I will not need Cindric. He was awesome at Dover in the Xfinity Series and his Penske Ford should be fast Sunday. Cindric finished 1st, 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in his last four Xfinity Series races at the Monster Mile. He should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
DANIEL SUAREZ (7): The stats suggest playing Cole Custer in this spot. General Custer has never finished worst than 11th in the Cup Series at the Monster Mile. Suarez has had some success at the track too. He finished 9th at Dover last year in his Trackhouse Racing Chevy. This pick came down to which driver I trust more. The answer is Suarez. I like what Trackhouse Racing has right now. Suarez finished 9th last year and he has a lot faster car in 2022.
GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Austin Cindric 2) Daniel Suarez 3) Cole Custer 4) Erik Jones 5) AJ Allmendinger
* Be sure to check back Saturday evening for my starting lineup for the Driver Group Game.
Good Luck This Week!
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