The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series championship moves to Dover International Speedway for the Citizen Soldier 400. Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski ($9,100) starts at the front of the pack in the Blue Deuce looking for his second career victory at the Delaware track. Keselowski has been among the best at Dover, posting four Top 5s, five Top 10s and just two finishes outside of the Top 20 in 13 career starts while posting a 12.8 Average-Finish Position (AFP). Over the past five starts he has a 100.9 Driver Rating, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, while leading 156 laps. He’ll add to the latter from the pole position Sunday.
Ford hasn’t been to Victory Lane in the past 10 races at Dover dating back to May 2011 when Matt Kenseth ($9,700) turned the trick in a Ford while driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth returned to Victory Lane in the first race this season at Dover for Joe Gibbs Racing, and he is second with a 110.8 Driver Rating over his past five starts at the ‘Monster Mile’ while running a Sprint Cup Series-leading 94.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He has three wins at Dover with 23 Top 10 finishes in 35 starts, so he is a bona fide No. 1 DFS option. Kenseth goes off fourth on Sunday.
Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500) will start alongside Keselowski on the front row looking for his second-career win at the track. The New Jersey native’s win at the track in June 2007 was his first Sprint Cup Series win, and he usually brings it in what amounts to his home track. MTJ has a 102.1 Driver Rating over his past five starts while leading 178 laps and posting a 7.8 AFP, fourth-best on the circuit during the stretch.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick ($10,900) once again has the highest price tag this week, and rightly so. He dominated at New Hampshire last weekend for the victory for his fifth Top 5 finish in the past six outings. Over the past five starts at Dover Harvick has led a whopping 810 laps while posting a 123.5 Driver Rating. The next closest driver has 299 laps led during the stretch, so that shows how dominant Happy has been at DIS lately.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson ($9,300) is the driver with 299 laps led during the past five stops at Dover. He is looking for his 11th-career victory at Dover in his 30th start at the track. The Monster Mile has been ‘Johnsonville’ over the years, as more than half (15) of his starts have resulted in Top 5 finishes, and the No. 48 has been out front for 3,003 laps while posting a 9.6 AFP, best among all drivers with at least six career starts at the track. While things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team, they usually end up very good at Dover. Johnson has won three of the past six starts at Dover, too. With rather soft pricing and an eighth-place starting spot, J.J. will be a popular DFS choice.
Johnson’s teammate Chase Elliott ($8,900) finished third in the race in May, and he will start ninth Sunday, so he is obviously comfortable on the cement flat track of DIS. Kasey Kahne ($7,600) isn’t in the Chase, but he has four consecutive Top 10 finishes to resemble a driver with championship aspirations. Johnson needs his teammates to step up, and if he can pull them up to his level of success at the track Elliott and Kahne could be strong DFS values.
JGR’s Kyle Busch ($10,300) goes off from the third position looking for his third win at the track. In 23 previous starts he has the two checkered flags, 10 Top 5s and 14 Top 10s with a 15.3 AFP. One alarming stat is the fact Rowdy has six DNFs, which is tied with his brother Kurt Busch ($8,600) for the most active DNFs on the circuit. Kyle checks in eighth in Driver Rating at 99.1 over the past five starts at DIS, leading 107 laps while running 78.2 percent of his laps inside the Top 15.
Denny Hamlin ($9,500) and Carl Edwards ($10,100) also start inside the Top 10, as they look to keep their Chase dreams alive. Neither driver is among the Top 10 in Driver Rating over the past five starts at Dover. Edwards has always been fairly steady at the track, however. In 24 career starts he has a win, eight Top 5s and 12 Top 10s with an 11.5 AFP. Despite the lack of success at Dover lately, he is a strong DFS play. Hamlin is a bit more risky, as he hasn’t done well lately, or overall in his career. In 21 career starts he has a dismal 18.6 AFP, posting just three Top 5s and seven Top 10s while leading 276 laps.
Kurt Busch isn’t a recommended Fantasy option. He isn’t among the Top 10 in Driver Rating in the past five starts at Dover, and he has just one win and five Top 5s in 32 career starts with an 18.2 AFP. He also has finished outside of the Top 10 in 23 of his 32 career runs at the track. Even though he has a fairly attractive DFS salary you’ll want to go another way. Busch’s boss, Tony Stewart ($8,200) has three wins at Dover, but he hasn’t won since June 2013.
ON THE DOWN LOW
As far as the lower-priced options are concerned, there is plenty of good picks for a high-low DFS lineup strategy.
HScott Motorsports driver Clint Bowyer ($7,100) has finished exactly 22nd in each of his past four races, and that type of consistency is key from your No. 5 or 6 DFS option. He has made 21 career starts at the track while posting 12 runs inside the Top 10, and only two finishes outside of the Top 20. That includes a 12th-place run at the first Dover race this season. His 11.9 AFP is fourth-best among drivers with at least six starts at the track.
Rookie Ryan Blaney ($8,000) has had his salary creep up again after a resurgent fourth-place finish at Chicago, and a solid 12th-place showing in New Hampshire last weekend. Blaney brought it home eighth in the first stop at Dover this season, and while not in the Chase he could look like a championship-caliber driver at a place he apparently feels comfortable. He is set to start from the 20th spot Sunday, so plenty of Place Differential points could be in the offing, too.
Chris Buescher ($6,400) is in the Chase, but you’d never know it from his DFS salary. That’s likely because over his past five starts he has a 26.8 AFP which isn’t very championship caliber. He brought it home 18th in his first start of the season at Dover, and if he is able to replicate that type of finish he would more than pay for himself. Buescher will start in the 16th spot on Sunday.
RFR’s Trevor Bayne ($6,900) managed a 10th-place finish in May’s race at Dover, which was a stark contrast to his first two outings at the track when he finished 31st and 43rd. His qualifying spot is somewhere in the middle at 23rd, so he is a difficult driver to preview this weekend. His Top 10 finish at Dover earlier in the season was a surprise, and it would be wise to target him more for a finish in the neighborhood of 20th to 25th. That would still be a decent return at this salary level.
Paul Menard ($6,200) finished 11th in May at the track, and he has been 25th or better in four of his past five starts. He certainly won’t be in contention for the checkered flag when the dust clears Sunday, but a Top 20 finish makes him a decent No. 5 or 6 DFS option. Menard has finished in the Top 20 in 10 of his 18 career starts with a respectable 18.3 AFP and zero DNFs.