The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Dover, Delaware this week for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism. The race can be seen Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fantasy Live game on nascar.com.
Whenever a fantasy team can score 400 points in the Fantasy Live game it can be considered an excellent race. My picks came close last week at Charlotte. Who would have thought that fading Kyle Larson starting 39th would have been the best play. That race just shows how important dominators are in this game. This week will be no different.
There will be 400 laps in the race Sunday. That means there will be 400 bonus points available for leading laps and fastest laps in the race. These points add up quickly so fantasy teams need to capture as many of them as possible.
Passing for the lead has become difficult in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Selecting the driver who wins the pole will be important until NASCAR figures out a rule change to improve the racing. The drivers who have won the pole have led 1,167 laps this season on the non-restrictor plate tracks. That is an average of 116.7 laps per race and 58.35 fantasy points per race. These points are almost guaranteed so you should take them.
Martin Truex Jr. ($28.00) considers Dover his home track and he loves to perform well in front of his family and friends. The Mayetta, New Jersey native has a series-high 120.1 driver rating and a 6.75 average finishing position in the last four races at the track. Truex dominated the race at Dover in the Chase last year. He qualified second and led 187 laps on his way to Victory Lane. The No. 78 car will be the biggest threat to Jimmie Johnson this week.
Kevin Harvick ($27.75) has been the best driver at Dover since 2014 but his results are horrible. Harvick has the second-best driver rating (111.9) and has led 786 laps in the last five races at the track. The No. 4 team has dominated the races but when the checkered-flag is waved, Harvick is nowhere to be found. His bad luck at the track must turn around sooner or later. Harvick will have a fast car Sunday. The question is whether or not it will be upfront at the end of the race. I think Harvick will have better luck this week.
Kyle Larson ($27.25) has been one of the best drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year and his stats at Dover suggest he may find Victory Lane Sunday. Larson has finished five of his six races at the Monster Mile in the top 11. Last year he qualified 23rd and finish second in this race. His price is high, but Larson is one of the best selections for your team Sunday.
Kyle Busch ($27.00) will be a factor in the race Sunday. After a slow start to the 2017 season, Joe Gibbs Racing is starting to come to life. Busch grew up racing on the high-banked concrete track in Las Vegas. He really knows how to make fast laps at the Monster Mile. Last year he qualified third, led 102 laps and finished second at Dover. I would not be surprised to see the No. 18 car in Victory Lane Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson ($26.75) is the master when it comes to conquering the Monster Mile. Johnson has a series-high 10 wins, a series-best 9.53 average finishing position, series-best 118.3 driver rating and has lead 3,093 at Dover. Few drivers in NASCAR history can match Johnson’s stats at Dover. He has not been to Victory Lane at the track since 2015; which is only four races. That is a long drought for the No. 48 team. The seven time NASCAR champion should score his third win of the season this week at Dover.
Matt Kenseth ($24.50) got off to a slow start this season but he is starting to heat up. He finished 12th at Kansas and fourth last week at Charlotte. Kenseth won this race last year. It was his third consecutive finish in the top seven at the Monster Mile. Joe Gibbs Racing is still looking for their first win in 2017. Kenseth should be up front when the checkered flag is waved Sunday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($16.25) is very good on the steep concrete tracks. Stenhouse is a must start driver at Bristol and he has the talent to run well at Dover too. His average finishing position in the last three races at the Monster Mile is 11th. The No. 17 car is a lot faster than it has been in the past so I like Stenhouse for a top-10 finish Sunday.
Chris Buescher ($10.50) is a great value pick this week. I purchased Buescher for $10 last week and I do not plan on selling him any time soon. His average finishing position in the last four races is 17.5. His average starting position in those races is 26.5. So he is a good driver for position differential points and he is a good driver for finishing position points. Jumping on the Buescher bandwagon may be a good idea.
Michael McDowell ($9.75) may be the must underrated driver in Fantasy NASCAR. He has finished his last two races in the top 20. The only problem with McDowell is that he has been qualifying well too. If McDowell starts outside the top 25 Sunday, the No. 95 car will be a great pick for your team.
Cole Whitt ($5.25) is still the best driver for the cheapest price. He ran a great race at Bristol and that should translate into success at Dover. Whitt started 31st and finished 21st. It may be a good idea to take three of the highest priced drivers this week. Whitt will give you the salary cap relief to do so.
Here are my pre-qualifying picks for the AAA 400:
Driver 1: Martin Truex Jr. $28.00
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $26.75
Driver 3: Matt Kenseth $24.50
Driver 4: Chris Buescher $10.50
Driver 5: Michael McDowell $9.75
Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
I will have my picks updated on my website (Fantasy Racing Tips) Saturday