Fantasy Racing: Dover
Autism Speaks 400
Dover International Speedway
Sunday May 31, 12:30 ET, FOX
Race Facts: With his win in this race last year, Kyle Busch became the youngest driver to conquer the Monster Mile… Now-suspended Jeremy Mayfield holds the qualifying record… The 1971 race at Dover ran caution free. I’d put 1 gazillion to one odds on that happening Sunday… Because of the tendency to have some prolonged green flag runs at Dover, cars get lapped fairly often. The most cars on the lead lap at the end of the race is 21, which happened in 2006… Track position is huge at Dover. Almost 80% of race winners have started in the top 10.
Drivers to Watch:
Martin Truex Jr.: The 2007 winner of this race—which was rain delayed and raced on a Monday—needs a very strong run to salvage his season. Truex has been a nonfactor at every track this season and sits 18th in the points standings. While EGR’s equipment isn’t as good as other teams, it’s certainly not a backmarker team, as it showed with the car that Juan Pablo Montoya had on Sunday/Monday in Lowe’s. For Truex’s sake, maybe he’ll get the Dover version of that car, because if he does, he’s got a great shot for a great finish.
Mark Martin: Martin seems to be a staple on the good side of this column, and he’s in this week’s edition with good reason. Martin has the most top fives and top 10s of any driver at Dover, with 21 and 28 respectively. Martin’s average finish at Dover is 12.8, and with the way that he and Alan Gustafson have been running lately, it looks like a very safe bet that Martin will be on the better side of average.
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is another driver who has struggled this season—he’s one spot ahead of Truex in the standings—but has a great chance of helping himself at Dover. With the exception of this race last year, when he got caught up in that multi-car melee very early in the race, Bowyer’s lowest finish at the Monster Mile is 17th, and that came in his first career start. Bowyer and Shane Wilson have shown that they have speed, they’ve just been in a funk lately. Here’s betting that they snap out of it Sunday.
Drivers to Watch Out for:
Tony Stewart: It feels kind of odd writing about the driver in second place in the points standings in this half of the column, but after having a handle on Dover early in his career, Stewart’s average finish has slowly trended downwards. In his last eight starts, Stewart has had his day ended by an accident in three of them, and in the other five, his highest finish is just ninth. With the way that Stewart is running this year—he certainly didn’t have a 19th place car at Lowe’s—he could certainly win on Sunday. But recent history says that he’s going to struggle.
Kurt Busch: Much like Stewart, Busch is running very well this year but has struggled recently at Dover. In Busch’s last four races at DIS, his highest finish is 20th, which was this race last year, and he was four laps down. And lest we forget, one of those terrible finishes was when Busch was parked for running into Stewart’s jackman after he and Stewart had an altercation on the racetrack. I wonder how many times we’ll see that clip this weekend?
John Andretti: If you’re having to pick Andretti this weekend, you could do worse, as at least he’s going to attempt to run the whole race, but you could do a whole hell of a lot better too. Andretti’s average finish at Dover is 25.2, and he’s been out of a stock car for the last three weeks, instead focusing on the Indy 500. Add in the fact that Andretti has only run at Dover once in the current car and you have a recipe for disaster.
Stone Cold Lock of the Week:
Carl Edwards: While Edwards is still in the Chase—as of now—his season by every measure has been a disappointment. However, Edwards is automatic at Dover. He has an average finish of 7.7 in nine races at Dover and his worst finish in the last five Dover races is third(!), Edwards is my pick to win on Sunday, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him dominate the race from start to finish.
To Watch: Burton – 25th, Vickers – 5th, Sorenson – 35th
To Watch Out for: Montoya – 9th, Waltrip – 30th, Earnhardt Jr. – 40th
Stone Cold Lock: Stewart – 19thNo Comment