The first race of May for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at the “Monster Mile”, Dover International Speedway, for the AAA 400. There have been six different winners in 10 races so far this season. Will there be a brand new winner at Dover this week? I would consider it pretty likely as Dover has seen six different victors in the last seven races at the site.
RACE PREVIEW FOR AAA 400
Post Saturday Practices Update: William Byron ($6,600 on DraftKings, $7,800 on FanDuel) was 10th in second practice, eighth in final practice, and had the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. He starts 17th, but has shown speeds indicative of a Top 10 finish, making him one of the best bargain values.
Brad Keselowski ($10,400 on DraftKings, $11,300 on FanDuel) and Kevin Harvick ($11,000 on DraftKings, $12,100 on FanDuel) have been standout drivers throughout practices. Keselowski has finished in the Top 10 in three of the last four races at Dover. He was fifth in first practice, second in second practice, 11th in final practice, had the ninth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts eighth. Keselowski will finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds and has a chance to place in the Top 5. Harvick finished ninth in this race last year and has placed in the Top 5 in four of the last five races in 2018. Harvick was third in first practice, sixth in second practice, fifth in final practice, had the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts second. Harvick has been faster throughout practices than most and will compete for a Top 5 finish with a chance to lead laps and finish in the Top 3 this week. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Now that the Cup Series is returning to a non-Superspeedway venue, Kyle Busch ($11,600 on DraftKings, $12,700 on FanDuel) will be one of the most competitive drivers for the win. He has been the most consistent driver this season, finishing seventh or better in every race except at Superspeedways, and has an Average Finishing Position of 5.7. Dover is a favorable track for Kyle Busch, with three wins, 16 Top 10 finishes, and 1,188 Laps Led, which is second of active drivers in 26 starts. Kyle Busch starts fourth and was fourth in first practice. His consistency this season has shown that he is a favorite to win on nearly every track type and this week’s race at Dover will be no exception.
The Mayetta, New Jersey native considers this to be his hometown track, and Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800 on DraftKings, $11,800 on FanDuel) simply excels at Dover. In 24 starts at the site, Truex has two wins and 13 Top 10 finishes. He has finished 11th or better in each of his last eight starts at Dover, which include Top 5 finishes in both races at the track last season. Truex was sixth in first practice and starts third. Truex always has established in past interviews that he always feels confident racing at Dover and that it is one of his best tracks. He has proven many times before to be one of the top picks at Dover.
Kyle Larson ($10,200 on DraftKings, $12,000 on FanDuel) is a great pick for Dover. He has led the most laps at the site in the last two races combined at 378 and only has one finish worse than 11th in eight starts. Dover is a track that fits right into Larson’s driving style of running towards the top of the track and it clearly shows in his results, as he has the fourth-best Average Running Position of 10.4 since 2015. Larson was seventh in first practice and starts first. Expect Larson to lead several laps as he competes for the win.
Chase Elliott ($9,300 on DraftKings, $11,500 on FanDuel) is a favorable option with strong momentum. He has the opportunity to become the second driver in Cup Series history to start his career with five Top 5 finishes at Dover. He finished second in his last start at Dover and led 138 laps, the most of all drivers last fall. Elliott has finished in the Top 3 in his last two races this season, showing that he has plenty of recent momentum. He was 14th in first practice and starts sixth. Dover is one of Elliott’s top tracks and he has come close to winning several times at the site. Do not be surprised if Elliott finishes in the Top 5 again even though his first practice speed suggests otherwise. Elliott has struggled in practices before at Dover only to finish in the Top 5, and he should not be underestimated.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,000 on DraftKings, $12,300 on FanDuel) describes Dover as his favorite race track and it is not difficult to see why. He leads all drivers in wins (11), Top 5 finishes (17), and Laps Led (3,105). Johnson is the defending winner of this week’s race and finished in the Top 10 in each of his last three Dover starts. Johnson, however, is having a lackluster season by his standards, with only three Top 10 finishes so far, and has not competed for wins. Dover is his best chance to start turning his season around as even when he has been on winless streaks before, Johnson still finishes well at the site. He was second in first practice and starts 19th. Despite the favorable history, I think Jimmie Johnson’s salary is too high on FanDuel to warrant using him because of his performances this season, and he leaves little room for cap flexibility. On DraftKings, his salary is more manageable to fit into a lineup, making it easier to use other top drivers alongside him.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Clint Bowyer ($8,800 on DraftKings, $10,500 on FanDuel) will be a solid pick for a Top 10 finish. In 24 starts at Dover, Bowyer has 13 Top 10 finishes, which include last fall’s race, when he placed sixth. Bowyer is having one of his best seasons in awhile with six Top 10 finishes including four of the last five races. He was ninth in first practice and starts 12th.
Aric Almirola ($8,600 on DraftKings, $9,400 on FanDuel) is having his most consistent season to date, with only two finishes outside of the Top 15 so far. In 11 starts, he has three Top 10 finishes. Almirola starts 13th and was 11th in first practice. Since moving to Stewart-Haas Racing this season, Almirola has been competitive for a Top 10 finish regardless of track type and that will not change going forward.
Erik Jones ($8,200 on DraftKings, $9,800 on FanDuel) has two Top 15 finishes at Dover, with his best finish of 12th coming in last fall’s race. Jones has one win and two Top 10 finishes at Dover in the Xfinity Series and has been gaining more experience racing at the site. Since he is also in better equipment this season, I expect Jones to have a better result than his last two Cup starts. He was 19th in first practice and starts 11th. Watch for Jones to finish in the Top 15 with a good chance of placing in the Top 10 based on equipment.
Daniel Suarez ($7,100 on DraftKings, $8,300 on FanDuel) has finished in the Top 10 in both of his two starts at Dover. Suarez has been highly successful at the track in the Xfinity Series, where he has one win and five Top 10 finishes in six starts. He was 20th in first practice and starts seventh. Suarez has shown consistency in recent races by finishing 11th or better in the last three, and I expect Suarez to continue that trend this week even though his first practice speed was not favorable.
Alex Bowman ($6,900 on DraftKings, $9,100 on FanDuel) has one Top 20 finish in four starts at Dover. This will be his first start at the site with Hendrick Motorsports, which provides much better equipment than he ever has used. Bowman has finished in the Top 10 in two of the last three races this season. He was 13th in first practice and starts 15th. Expect him to finish around his starting position.
Paul Menard ($6,800 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel) has 10 Top 20 finishes in 21 starts at Dover. Menard was first in first practice and starts 20th. He is riding in better equipment than he has in previous seasons. I expect Menard to compete for a Top 15 finish, but he has a chance of placing in the Top 10 based on his first practice speed, making him one of the better bargain values.
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($5,800 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel) is making his Cup Series debut at Dover. He has been successful at the site in the Xfinity Series with five finishes of 12th or better in six starts. Wallace has finished in the Top 20 in three of the last four races this season. He was 22nd in first practice and starts 25th. Wallace will finish better than his starting position and compete for a Top 20 finish.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR ONE MAIN FINANCIAL 200 (DRAFTKINGS ONLY)
Post-Qualifying Saturday Update: Brandon Jones and Noah Gragson are starting first and second, respectively. Both drivers have never won at Dover. but they continue to show the necessary speed to compete for the win and both of them will lead laps. I would not be surprised if one or both of these drivers are in the highest scoring lineup for this week’s race.
Several notable drivers failed pre-qualifying inspection and will be starting from the rear. Christopher Bell ($11,300), Cole Custer ($10,900), Tyler Reddick ($10,200), John Hunter Nemechek ($10,000), and Michael Annett ($7,400) all failed to set qualifying times,but will all be great choices for Place Differential. Reddick starts 33rd, Bell starts 34th, Nemechek starts 35th, Custer starts 36th, and Annett starts 37th. All of these drivers with the exception of Annett were in the Top 10 in first practice while Bell was first, Reddick was third, Custer was 12th, Annett was 17th, and Nemechek was 19th in final practice. Bell, Custer, and Reddick will all finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds, while Nemechek and Annett will compete for a Top 15 finish. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Dover is the last of the four Dash 4 Cash events in the Xfinity Series. The four drivers who should compete for the prize for this event are Elliott Sadler ($11,200), Justin Allgaier ($11,000), Brandon Jones ($9,200), and Ryan Sieg ($6,800). In 20 starts at Dover, Sadler has 13 Top 10 finishes, which include each of his last five starts. He was the Dash 4 Cash winner last week at Talladega and is going for his third consecutive Dash 4 Cash win. Sadler was sixth in first practice, second in final practice, and had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Sadler will finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds.
In 14 starts at Dover Allgaier has seven Top 10 finishes, which include three Top 5s in his last four starts. Allgaier was 11th in first practice, seventh in final practice, and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Allgaier will compete for a Top 5 finish based on practice speeds. Jones’ best finish at Dover in four starts is 17th. He is having his strongest season to date since joining Joe Gibbs Racing, with five Top 10 finishes, including the last three Xfinity races. Jones was third in first practice and 10th in final practice. Look for him to continue his streak of Top 10 finishes this week. Sieg has finished in the Top 20 in all eight of his starts at Dover with his best finish being 13th. Sieg was 25th in first practice and 22nd in final practice. Sieg’s history at Dover makes him one of the better bargain values and his practice speeds point to a finish in the Top 25 with a chance of placing in the Top 20.
Other drivers that will have strong runs are Austin Cindric ($8,900), Noah Gragson ($7,800), and Ty Majeski ($6,900). All three drivers will make their Xfinity debuts at Dover this week. Cindric has three finishes of 12th or better in the last four races this season. He was seventh in first practice, fourth in final practice, and had the 10th-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Cindric will compete for a Top 10 finish with a chance to place in the Top 5 based on practice speeds. Gragson has been impressive so far in his first two Xfinity races, finishing in the Top 5 both times. He was first in first practice, sixth in final practice, and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice.
Gragson is one of the favorites to compete for the win based on practice speeds. Majeski has been involved in wrecks in both of his two starts this season. He was 17th in first practice, eighth in final practice, and had the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average during final practice. Majeski’s practice speeds look good compared to other drivers in the bargain value range and as long as he does not wreck, he will compete for a Top 10 finish.