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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Drydene 400 Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 7, 2019, 11:37 am ET

When NASCAR decided to develop a playoff-style system, they did not initially rearrange the schedule. A few changes have occurred since then, but Dover International Speedway has always been a key fixture. Arguably one of the toughest races of the year, even at 400 miles this is an endurance event.

Back in the first playoff season of 2004, Ryan Newman won this race while he was in contention. Fast forward 14 years and Dover is the only track that hosted a playoff race in the inaugural season and that is still on the schedule that has never witnessed a non-playoff driver win. Chances are good that record will remain intact because the last time a driver who was not actively competing for the Cup won a race was 2017 when Matt Kenseth did so at Phoenix – and he started that season as a contender.

The 12 playoff drivers this week are heavily favored, but the top 15 is peppered with others of note. Success in fantasy racing means keeping an eye on how everyone in the field will run.


1. Chase Elliott
It could be Elliott's turn to win back-to-back races this week. In seven Dover starts, he has finished outside the top five only once and he's the defending winner of this race.

2. Martin Truex Jr.
Until fall 2016, Truex was much more likely to finish on the high side of the top 10 at Dover. He won that race and has scored a top-five in every event but one since then.

3. Kevin Harvick
Harvick's second career victory at Dover came last spring. Since then he's finished sixth in the 2018 fall race and was fourth this May.

4. Joey Logano
Logano entered this race last year with a record of four sub-10th-place results in his previous five Dover races. He finished third that weekend and backed it up with a seventh this spring.

5. Kyle Larson
If the team manages the race properly and gets track position for Larson, he could challenge for the win. At Dover, he's finished second or third four times - including this spring.

6. Brad Keselowski
With three top-fives in the Round of 16, Keselowski has momentum on his side. At Dover, however, he has not cracked that barrier since 2016.

7. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer finished ninth in the spring Gander RV 400. That was his third top-10 in the last four races on this track, but he also has four results outside the top 10 dating back to 2015.

8. Kyle Busch
From 2014 through last spring it seemed that Busch alternated top-two finishes with dismal results in every other Dover race. His last two efforts ended in an eighth last fall and a 10th this spring.

9. Denny Hamlin
Before players get overly excited about Hamlin's third-place finish in this race last year, they should note that is his only top-five in the last 10 Dover attempts.

10. Daniel Suarez
This has been one of the best and most consistent tracks for Suarez. He's finished no worse than 11th at Dover during his career with a best of third in May 2018.

11. William Byron
Byron has been hard to handicap all year. He's improved rapidly, but still lacks consistency as a sophomore driver. He finished eighth this May and was 19th last fall.

12. Ryan Blaney
The playoffs are made up of challenging tracks for Blaney. At Dover he has only two top-10s counterbalanced by three results outside the top 20 in seven starts.

13. Matt DiBenedetto
This spring was the first time DiBenedetto cracked the top 20 at Dover, but he has run so well in the last few months that we believe he can easily contend for his first top-15.

14. Aric Almirola
Almirola has shown a lot of promise on this track in the past. He finished sixth in his inaugural attempt in 2012 and swept the top five in 2015. His last three attempts landed in the teens.

15. Erik Jones
Jones has never finished outside the top 20 in five previous Dover starts and the last two of his attempts ended in the top 10.

16. Kurt Busch
Busch has not scored a top-15 in his last four attempts of 2019 and now that he is out of the playoffs, the lion's share of resources at Chip Ganassi Racing may belong to his teammate.

17. Jimmie Johnson
With 11 wins to his credit, there is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind that Johnson knows how to get around the track. If he finds a magic setup, he could rocket to the top.

18. Alex Bowman
How surprising was Bowman's second-place finish in this May's Gander RV 400? It was only the second time in his career that he finished inside the top 20.

19. Ryan Newman
Newman should finish respectably this week, but is unlikely to score a top-10. His last 10 attempts at Dover ended nine top-20s but only two top-10s.

20. Austin Dillon
In 12 starts at Dover, Dillon has scored three top-15s; one of these was a seventh he earned in last year's edition of this race.

21. Paul Menard
Menard has seesawed through the ranks at Dover, but his last two efforts ended respectably with a 16th in last year's edition of this race and a 17th this spring.

22. Ty Dillon
Dillon has quietly amassed some strong runs in recent weeks. He was 15th on the Roval, 16th at Vegas, and 13th at Indy. His last four Dover attempts have been in the 20s, however.

23. Chris Buescher
All but one of Buescher's Dover starts ended in the top 25, but he has not yet cracked the top 15. Look for something between those two ranges this week.

24. Bubba Wallace
The best way for Wallace to put last week's confrontation with Bowman behind him is to run well. In three Dover starts, he has finished between 23rd and 27th.

25. Michael McDowell
McDowell could be one of this week's most pleasant surprises. He finished 19th at Dover in spring 2017 and has been in the mid-20s for every race since then. Another top-20 is not out of the question.

26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
It may be too little, too late but Stenhouse's last two efforts landed in the mid-teens. That snapped a five-race streak of results outside the top 25.

27. David Ragan
Ragan's ultimate value will depend on where he qualifies and how many place-differential points he can score. His recent record at Dover is consistent with results of 21st through 27th in the last four races.

28. Daniel Hemric
Hemric scored a top-25 this spring in his Dover debut. Unfortunately he has lost a lot of momentum in recent weeks and it's difficult to predict he will finish that well again.

29. Ryan Preece
A 28th-place finish in this spring's Gander RV 400 was a good start for Preece on the high-banked, 1-mile oval. Once a driver finds the rhythm on this track, it's easy to rattle off consistent runs.

30. Matt Tifft
Dover can be a difficult place for rookies, but Tifft finished respectably in 32nd this May in the Gander RV 400.

31. Corey LaJoie
Don't be surprised if LaJoie lands in the top 30 this week at Dover. He finished 30th last fall and was 29th this spring. With some luck and attrition, he could crack the top 25.

32. Ross Chastain
It's difficult to predict exactly how Chastain will finish this week in Dover because his results there range from 20th to 37th and include everything in between.

33. Landon Cassill
Cassill has been consistent in recent attempts at Dover with two 31st- and one 33rd-place finish in his last three races. Look for something in that same range on Sunday.

34. Joe Nemechek
Nemechek will make his fourth appearance of the season this week. His most comparable effort so far came at Darlington where he finished 31st.

35. Garrett Smithley
The last time NASCAR visited a rough-surfaced track, Smithley finished 35th at Darlington. The next week, he rebounded and was 28th at Indy, however.

36. Reed Sorenson
It is difficult to handicap Sorenson much higher than this because he has not cracked the top 30 at Dover since the fall 2014 race.

37. JJ Yeley
Yeley hasn't made a lot of laps at Dover since losing his fulltime ride, but he was one of the most pleasant surprises last year with a 32nd in a third Front Row Motorsports car.

38. BJ McLeod
McLeod has some experience on this track. In the past three years he has made three starts with a best of 34th last fall.

 

Drivers Most Accurately
Predicted This Year

 

Avg.
Difference

Times Within 3

 

Landon Cassill

4.6

15

Matt Tifft

4.8

16

Ross Chastain

4.8

13

David Ragan

5.3

10

Martin Truex Jr.

5.4

12

Paul Menard

6.0

10

Chris Buescher

6.1

10

Ty Dillon

6.3

12

Kevin Harvick

6.6

13

Denny Hamlin

6.6

17

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.