The first round of the MENCS Playoffs are in the books and now only 12 drivers still have a chance to win the championship. The series will head back to Dover International Speedway this week for the Gander Outdoors 400. The MENCS last competed at Dover in May and the race was dominated by Kevin Harvick. It will be interesting to see which driver is the first to clinch a spot in Round 3 of the playoffs. The race can be seen Sunday at 2pm ET on NBC Sports Network.
Kevin Harvick (2): The word in the garage is that the No. 4 is the car to beat Sunday. He is also my pick to go to Victory Lane. Harvick dominated the race at the Monster Mile in May and he could do it again Sunday. Kyle Larson should be his biggest competition this week. If I had Larson I would save Harvick, but I am not worried about using an allocation with the No. 4 car at Dover.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kevin Harvick 2) Kyle Larson 3) Brad Keselowski 4) Martin Truex Jr. 5) Kyle Busch 6) Jimmie Johnson 7) Joey Logano 8) Denny Hamlin
Chase Elliott (3): Dover ranks as the best track for Elliott. Elliott has competed in 5 races at the Monster Mile and he has finished 4 of them in the top 5. He led the most laps and finished 2nd in this race last year. I am not sure he has a car fast enough to lead the most laps but Elliott is very good at making his way to the front at the end of the race. I have Elliott finishing in the top 5 Sunday.
Aric Almirola (5): The Stewart-Haas Racing cars dominated the May race at Dover and it looks like they showed up with the same speed this week. Almirola posted the 4th fastest speed in final practice and he was 5th fastest on the 15-lap average speed chart. Amirola needs points this week. I am sure the No. 10 team will do everything possible to allow Almirola finish in the top 10 Sunday.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Chase Elliott 2) Clint Bowyer 3) Kurt Busch 4) Erik Jones 5) Aric Almirola 6) Ryan Blaney 7) Daniel Suarez 8) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 9) Jamie McMurray 10) Austin Dillon
William Byron (2): Byron had a decent run in his first race at the Monster Mile. He qualified 17th, had a 13.6 average running position and finished 14th. I expect he will have a similar race Sunday. Byron liked how his car drove in final practice. He also said he worked with Jimmie Johnson in the simulator this week. That is a great teacher to have at Dover.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Alex Bowman) William Byron 3) Regan Smith 4) Chris Buescher 5) Michael McDowell
Good luck this week!
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