The pressure of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs intensifies, as it’s time for the first elimination race at Dover International Speedway, the site of the Apache Warrior 400. The four drivers outside of the Top 12 are within 21 points of advancing to the next round. The high amount of tension from this situation means that drivers may take crazy risks. This includes pitting off sequence from other drivers or causing contact to advance through the field. Keep this in mind when considering drivers like Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, or Kurt Busch for your lineups.
TOP PRICED PICKS
Kyle Busch ($11,000 on DraftKings) and Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000) have the two most expensive salaries and have proven to be the top performing drivers of the last few weeks. This week, it is essential to include one of these two drivers in your lineups. In 25 starts at Dover, Kyle Busch has two wins, 15 Top 10 finishes, and 1,158 Laps Led, which is second of active drivers. In 23 starts at Dover, Truex has two wins, 12 Top 10 finishes, and 694 Laps Led, which is sixth of active drivers. Since 2005 at DIS, Kyle Busch has the sixth-best Average Running Position of 10.6 which is better than Truex, who has the eighth-best ARP of 12.8. Kyle Busch has the second-most Fastest Laps at 575 while Truex has the fourth-most Fastest Laps at 500. Truex’s Driver Rating of 96.1, which ranks sixth in the Cup Series, also is not as high as Kyle Busch’s DR of 105.2, which ranks third. Truex was eighth in first practice, 21st in second practice, 16th in final practice, and starts first. Kyle Busch, on the other hand, was fourth in first practice, 12th in second practice, fifth in final practice, and starts second. The Loop Data, history, and practice results all favor Kyle Busch being the better pick over Truex, but Truex remains a solid pick based on history.
Kevin Harvick’s ($10,300) recent history at Dover is mixed. In his last seven starts at the site, Harvick has three Top 10 finishes, which includes his only Dover victory in 2015. Harvick has led 955 laps at Dover, which is third of active drivers. Since 2005 at Dover, Harvick has the fifth-most Fastest Laps at 485, the fourth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 6,473, and the ninth-best DR of 91.2. He was fifth in first practice, first in second practice, third in final practice, and starts ninth. Harvick has been fast throughout practices and will compete for a Top 5 position.
Kyle Larson ($10,200) nearly won the last Dover race earlier this season. In seven starts at Dover, Larson has five Top 10 finishes and only one finish worse than 11th. His Average Finishing Position of 8.3 ranks third of active drivers at the site. Larson has the seventh best ARP of 11.5, and the fifth-best DR of 99.6. Larson was second in first practice, sixth in second practice, fourth in final practice, and starts third. Larson’s practice speeds indicate that he will finish around his starting position.
Brad Keselowski ($9,700) has quietly been solid throughout the playoffs, opening with finishes of sixth and fourth in the last two races. In 15 starts at Dover, Keselowski has one win and six Top 10 finishes. He ranks 10th in ARP at 13.5, Fastest Laps at 198, and 11th in DR at 89.4. He was 16th in first and second practice, 14th in final practice, and starts 16th. Keselowski had the sixth-best 10 consecutive Lap Average in second practice and the ninth-best 10 consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Keselowski’s starting position will allow him to acquire a small amount of points from Place Differential and his practice speeds show that he can finish in the Top 10, ahead of his starting position.
Denny Hamlin ($9,600) has finished in the Top 10 in his last three Dover starts. In 23 starts at the site, Hamlin has nine Top 10 finishes. He has only two finishes outside the Top 10 in the last eight races this season. Hamlin had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second practice, the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts sixth. Hamlin’s practice speeds point to a finish around his starting position.
Nobody is statistically better at Dover than Jimmie Johnson ($9,400). In 31 starts at Dover, Johnson has 11 wins, which is the most of all drivers, as well as 22 Top 10 finishes, and 3,100 Laps Led, which leads all drivers. Since 2005, Johnson leads all drivers in ARP at 7.7, Fastest Laps at 1,342, Laps in the Top 15 at 8,542, and DR at 118.3. Johnson starts 17th, was third in first practice, and second in final practice. Johnson’s first and final practice speeds mark a finish in the Top 10, which allows him to gain some points from PD.
Chase Elliott ($9,200) has made only three starts at Dover. He has finished in the Top 5 in all of them with a finish of fifth earlier this season at the site. Elliott has the third-best ARP of 9.4, the highest percentage of Laps in the Top 15 at 91.4%, and the fourth-best DR of 100.2. Elliott was seventh in first and second practice, first in final practice, and starts 12th. Elliott will compete for a Top 5 finish.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Dover is far from Ryan Blaney’s ($8,300) best track, but he will be a decent choice this week. In three starts at Dover, Blaney has one Top 10 finish. He earned two Top 11 finishes to open the playoffs, which includes a ninth-place finish last week at New Hampshire. Blaney starts 11th, was eighth in second practice, and ninth in final practice. According to his second and final practice speeds, Blaney will finish in the Top 10.
Jamie McMurray ($8,100) is a driver that is perfect for lineups for this race. McMurray has three Top 10 finishes in his last five starts at Dover, which includes a finish of seventh from earlier this season. In 29 starts at Dover, McMurray has eight Top 10 finishes. He was 14th in first practice, fourth in second practice, sixth in final practice, and starts 26th. McMurray will give you plenty of points from PD, as he will finish in the Top 10.
Kasey Kahne ($7,700) is an adequate choice. In his last five starts at Dover, Kahne has three Top 10 finishes with his worst finish in that span being 17th. In 27 starts at DIS, Kahne has eight Top 10 finishes. Kahne was 19th in first practice, 15th in second practice, eighth in final practice, and starts 21st. Kahne’s practice speeds are better than his starting position, so expect him to finish in the Top 15 and to score a few points from PD.
Ryan Newman ($7,200) is a former three-time winner at Dover. In 31 starts at the site, Newman has 14 Top 10 finishes. Newman finished fourth at the site earlier this season. He starts eighth, was 11th in first practice, and 10th in second practice. Newman will finish around his starting position based on his first and second practice speeds.
Daniel Suarez ($6,900) is the best bargain to pick up. In his only Dover start earlier in 2017, Suarez started third and finished sixth. Suarez has two Top 10 finishes in his last three starts this season. He starts fifth, was 10th in first practice, ninth in second practice, and 10th in final practice. Suarez has shown respectable speed throughout practices, and will finish in the Top 10.
Ty Dillon ($6,700) is a nice bargain that will pick up some PD points. In two starts at Dover, Dillon has one Top 20 finish from earlier this season. He starts 29th, was 29th in first practice, 27th in second practice, and was 23rd in final practice. Expect him to finish in the Top 25 based on practice speeds.
For those looking to save on salary, there is no better choice than David Ragan ($5,200). In 22 starts at Dover, Ragan has five Top 20 finishes. He starts 28th, was 20th in first practice, 17th in second practice, and 21st in final practice. Ragan’s practice speeds indicate a finish in the Top 20.
TOP DRIVERS IN EACH PRICE RANGE FOR APACHE WARRIOR 400 – BASED ON COMBINATION OF PROJECTED PERFORMANCE AND VALUE
$10,000 – Plus Range
1: Kyle Busch ($11,000) – He had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second and final practice. He will lead several laps.
2: Kevin Harvick ($10,300) – Harvick will finish ahead of his starting position as marked by practice speeds.
3: Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000) – He has solid history at Dover.
$9,000 – Plus Range
1: Jimmie Johnson ($9,400) – Dover is his best track statistically and he has looked pretty good in practices. He will pick up points from PD.
2: Chase Elliott ($9,200) – He has three Top 5 finishes in three starts and looked great throughout practices.
3: Brad Keselowski ($9,700) – He starts outside the Top 10 and was respectable in the 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second and final practices.
$8,000 – Plus Range
1: Jamie McMurray ($8,100) – He starts 26th and has shown high quality speeds throughout practices
2: Ryan Blaney ($8,300) – Blaney’s practice speeds indicate a finish around his starting position.
3: Clint Bowyer ($8,800) – Bowyer starts 19th and has showcased better speeds than that throughout practices.
$7,000 – Plus Range
1: Kasey Kahne ($7,700) – He will finish ahead of his starting position and will capture a couple of PD points.
2: Ryan Newman ($7,200) – Newman will finish in the Top 10 based on his speeds in first and second practices.
3: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,600) – Stenhouse starts 15th and was 12th in final practice.
Below $7,000 Range
1: Daniel Suarez ($6,900) – He has shown Top 10 speeds throughout practices and finished in the Top 10 at Dover earlier this year.
2: David Ragan ($5,200) – Ragan starts 28th, but his practice speeds point to a finish around the Top 20.
3: Ty Dillon ($6,700) – Dillon performed well earlier at Dover this season, and his practice speeds look better than his starting position.