The Setup – Drydene 400 Race Preview
By Tyler Miller

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series heads to Dover for the Drydene 400, the first race in the round of 12 for the NASCAR playoffs. After a wild race at the ROVAL last weekend, things should calm down a bit as drivers race around the 1 mile high banked concrete racetrack in Dover, Delaware. Martin Truex Jr. won a rain delayed race at Dover on Monday May 6th. Can Truex complete the Dover sweep or will Chase Elliott make it back to back wins for the 9 team? Let’s get started!

Race Distance: 400 laps (400 miles). Stage 1 ends on lap 120, Stage 2 ends on lap 240.
Lineup Lock 2:30 pm eastern Sunday
Spring winner: Martin Truex Jr. (started 13th)
Spring pole sitter: Chase Elliott

Prior race winners: Spring; Fall
2018: Kevin Harvick (started 2nd); Chase Elliott (started 9th)
2017: Jimmie Johnson (14th); Kyle Busch (2nd)
2016: Matt Kenseth (10th); Martin Truex Jr. (2nd)
2015: Jimmie Johnson (14th); Kevin Harvick (15th)
2014: Jimmie Johnson (4th); Jeff Gordon (6th)

ROVAL Recap:
What went right?

I expected the ROVAL to provide excitement and drama, and I was not disappointed. Victory Lane correctly predicted that Chase Elliott would score the most DFS points. The only other really good call at the top end was Brad Keselowski who finished 5th, 4th in Fan Duel scoring. What I’m the most proud of is how spot on the mid-tier and value plays worked out. Clint Bowyer, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto, Michael McDowell, and Parker Kligerman were absolutely the right call at their respective salaries. I am also proud of how I stayed away from Denny Hamlin, even though he was highly owned, his 19th place finish was enough to kill most tournament lineups.
The core lineup of Elliott, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, McDowell, and Kligerman would have scored 226.2 on FanDuel with $10,600 of salary left over. A pivot from Kligerman or Kurt Busch to Keselowski would have scored 16.3 or 16.8 more points, totaling 242.5 or 243 which would have at least quadrupled entry fees in the tournaments I entered. Unfortunately I didn’t enter that exact lineup, my best lineup was Elliott, Keselowski, Larson, Bowyer, and Kligerman which scored 234.5 on Fan Duel.

What went wrong?
Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, and to a lesser extent, Joey Logano were bad plays on Sunday. None of them had bad days on the track, but Larson’s 13th place finish after starting 7th, Busch 20th after starting 23rd, and Logano 10th after starting 3rd, didn’t work out well enough to cash in tournaments. The only mid-tier/value driver I missed on was Chris Buescher who had a decent day, finishing 18th, but fell 6 spots from his 12th place starting position.

What really went wrong was missing Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman. I steered clear of Bowman and Truex Jr. because they were starting in backup cars while keeping their top 10 starting positions. Bowman rallied hard during the race and wound up finishing second which was a big missed opportunity. Kyle Busch was also a miss, though I wrote him up with some skepticism and recommended Elliott or Kurt Busch as alternates to Kyle.

What to watch for in practice/qualifying:

Momentum at Hendrick Hendrick Motorsports has the top two in driver rating (Johnson and Elliott), the top two in average running position (Elliott and Johnson), and the driver with the most laps led at Dover (Johnson). Jimmie Johnson has led 2,714 laps at Dover, almost a quarter of every lap he’s ran over his 17 year career. Jimmie Johnson has 11 wins at Dover in 35 races, a 31.4% winning percentage. He has 17 top 5s and 24 top 10s. Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 at Dover 68.6% of the time over a 17 year career! Chase Elliott won this race one year ago and won last week with Alex Bowman finished second at Dover in the spring, and second last week. Hendrick Motorsports is coming off a race where all four drivers finished inside the top 10. The numbers are completely ridiculous, but the question is simple: Can Hendrick Motorsports keep the momentum going at Dover this weekend?

Stick with championship contenders Not playing Harvick or Truex at the Roval was a mistake. Playing the right championship contenders each week is going to be pivotal in scoring DFS points throughout playoffs. Playing the right mix of Truex, Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott, Logano, Keselowski, and Kyle Busch will be the difference in winning and losing in the next seven races.

What about Suarez and Jones? Daniel Suarez’s has finished in the top 10 in 4 of his 5 career races at Dover. His only finish outside the top 10 was an 11th place finish in May. Erik Jones is coming off back-to-back top 10 finishes (4th and 6th) at the track. Neither driver has momentum coming into this race, nor are they in the playoffs. Suarez finished 34th at the ROVAL and Jones has finished 36th or worse in every race since he won at Darlington. Identifying a strong car for either of these drivers this weekend will be key in creating a strong DFS lineup for Sunday.

What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):
Truex and Kyle Busch are favored at 4-1. Keselowski and Logano fall down to double digits at 12-1 and 14-1 respectively.
Martin Truex Jr: 4-1
Kyle Busch: 4-1
Kyle Larson: 6-1
Kevin Harvick: 6-1
Chase Elliott: 7-1
Brad Keselowski: 12-1
Denny Hamlin: 12-1
Joey Logano: 14-1
Ryan Blaney: 20-1
Erik Jones 20-1

Driver Ratings at Dover:
1. Jimmie Johnson 113.3
2. Chase Elliott 108.3
3. Kyle Busch 104.6
4. Kyle Larson 100.6
5. Martin Truex Jr. 99.0
6. Kevin Harvick 96.0
7. Brad Keselowski 92.9
8. Clint Bowyer 90.1
9. Daniel Suarez 89.9
10. Kurt Busch 89.4
11. Erik Jones 87.3
12. Joey Logano 86.8
13. Denny Hamlin 85.3
14. Ryan Newman 83.1
15. Ryan Blaney 81.6

Average Running Position Dover:
1. Chase Elliott 7.518
2. Jimmie Johnson 8.914
3. Kyle Busch 10.386
4. Kyle Larson 10.874
5. Daniel Suarez 11.769
6. Martin Truex Jr. 11.807
7. Brad Keselowski 11.914
8. Erik Jones 12.282
9. Kevin Harvick 13.191
10. Clint Bowyer 13.210
11. Kurt Busch 13.343
12. Joey Logano 13.855
13. Denny Hamlin 14.379
14. Ryan Newman 14.446
15. Ryan Blaney 16.106

Laps Led
1. Jimmie Johnson 2714 (23.4 % of laps run)
2. Kevin Harvick 1310 (11.3)
3. Kyle Busch 1210 (10.4)
4. Martin Truex Jr. 877 (8.1)
5. Kyle Larson 463 (10.5)
6. Kurt Busch 413 (3.6)
7. Brad Keselowski 394 (5.2)
8. Chase Elliott 294 (10.5)
9. Denny Hamlin 276 (2.6)
10. Ryan Newman 247 (2.1)

Spring Top 10:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Alex Bowman
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Chase Elliott
6. Erik Jones
7. Joey Logano
8. William Byron
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Kyle Busch

2018 Fall Top 10:
1. Chase Elliott
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Joey Logano
4. Erik Jones
5. Kurt Busch
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Austin Dillon
8. Kyle Busch
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Daniel Suarez

2018 Spring Top 10:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Kurt Busch
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Kyle Larson

Kevin Harvick is the only driver to score top 10 finishes in each of the last three Dover races. Daniel Suarez narrowly missed by finishing 11th in the Spring 2019 race.

Stay tuned for updated content following qualifying on Saturday.

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