Whether this race settles into a predictable pattern – like many previous Dover International Speedway races – will depend entirely on the mindset of the drivers. When Round 1 kicked off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway three weeks ago, the sense of urgency was palpable and it resulted in several playoff contenders experiencing trouble. Their urgency stemmed from the looming unknown of the Charlotte Roval.
Guess what folks, Talladega Superspeedway is next up on the schedule and to a man, the Top-12 drivers want to win this race. How many risks they will take remains to be seen.
1. Martin Truex Jr.
He won his first Cup race at Dover in 2007 and would not earn another top-five there until he won again in 2016. Since scoring that second win, Truex has swept the top five.
3. Kyle Larson
Only one of Larson's nine career attempts at Dover ended worse than 11th. He has not yet won, but came close three times with second- or third-place finishes.
4. Kyle Busch
For some reason Busch has been better in the fall at Dover than the spring. He earned the victory in this race last year and finished second in 2015/2016.
5. Kevin Harvick
With only four top-fives in his last 24 Dover races, Harvick doesn't look very good on paper. He swept the top-two positions in 2015, however, and won this spring's AAA 400.
6. Brad Keselowski
In the last seven Dover races, Keselowski has scored only one top-five. The odds are great that he will just miss that mark again this weekend in the Gander Outdoors 400.
7. Clint Bowyer
From 2011 through 2015, Bowyer strung nine consecutive top-10s together at Dover. He stumbled in the next four races, but finished sixth last fall and second this spring.
8. Jimmie Johnson
If you're looking for a good dark horse this week, Johnson and the No. 48 team have back-to-back top-10s to their credit at Richmond and Charlotte. At Dover, he's finished in the top 10 in his last four starts.
9. Daniel Suarez
In three starts, Suarez has been perfect at Dover. All of his strong finishes came after he qualified well, so that should be the deciding factor.
10. Ryan Blaney
In his first Dover start, Blaney finished eighth in 2016. He was eighth again this spring in the AAA 400. In between, he's finished outside the top 20 three times.
11. Joey Logano
In the past four seasons, this has not been a very good track for Logano. He has only two top-10s and no top-fives in his last seven attempts.
12. Aric Almirola
Almirola has shown a real knack for Dover with a pair of top-fives in 2015 and an 11th there this spring. He could be this week's biggest fantasy differentiator.
13. Erik Jones
This has not been one of Jones' better tracks. In three Dover starts, he has not yet cracked the top 10. He's been consistent, though, with a worst result of 18th.
14. Denny Hamlin
It has been more than four years since Hamlin earned a top-five at Dover, but he has four top-10s in his last five attempts.
15. Ryan Newman
They haven't all been pretty, but six of Newman's last seven attempts this season ended in the top 15 with a best of ninth at Las Vegas.
16. William Byron
There is not a lot to go on where Byron is concerned - but he finished 14th this spring and deserves some attention as the weekend approaches.
17. Kurt Busch
Consistency is the defining mark of most of Busch's track records. At Dover, he has scored only three top-15s in his last 13 starts, however.
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Dover is a track that often rewards dark horses: Seven of Stenhouse's 12 career races on this track ended in results of 17th or better.
19. Matt Kenseth
Kenseth has not been able to back up his pre-hiatus records on any track this year, but with eight top-15s in his last nine Dover starts, he should be good for at least a top-20 at Dover.
20. Alex Bowman
Bowman made it to the Round of 12, but he's 17 points behind the cutoff line and finished outside the top 20 at Dover this spring.
21. Jamie McMurray
McMurray swept the top 10 at Dover in 2015 and 2017. He hasn’t been nearly as strong in even-numbered years, finishing 16th there this spring.
23. Ty Dillon
When it comes time to pick your bargain basement driver for the Gander Outdoors 400, consider that Dillon has finished in the top 25 in his last three Dover starts.
24. Austin Dillon
In his last four Dover starts, Dillon has gotten progressively worse. This spring, he finished 26th in the AAA 400.
25. AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger has finished outside the top 25 only once in his last five Dover starts. If he practices well, he should be on your radar screen.
26. Michael McDowell
This spring, McDowell finished 22nd at Dover. That perfectly matched his average finish on this track in the two previous seasons.
27. Chris Buescher
Four of Buescher's five Dover starts resulted in a narrow range of 18th to 23rd. He was 20th this spring.
28. David Ragan
If he fits the right niche on your roster, Ragan has finished in the top 30 at Dover in his last seven attempts. This spring, he was 27th in the AAA 400.
29. Ross Chastain
The closest Chastain has come to completing a race at Dover was last spring when he finished within three laps of the leader.
30. Landon Cassill
In his last four Dover starts, Cassill has hovered around the 30th-place mark three times. Consistency allows players to properly handicap a driver.
31. Bubba Wallace
In one previous Dover start, Wallace finished 25th this spring. Unfortunately, he's crashed and failed to finish in five of his last nine Cup races this season.
32. Paul Menard
Menard is in strong equipment this year, but that is not always enough to keep him from experiencing trouble like last week's crash at the Charlotte Roval.
33. Matt DiBenedetto
Last year, DiBenedetto was 29th at Dover in the spring and 31st in the fall. He picked up where he left off this spring with another 29th-place result.
34. Corey LaJoie
Last fall, LaJoie finished 34th in this race. When he came back this spring, he blew an engine on Lap 20 and finished 38th.
35. BJ McLeod
McLeod has made only one previous start at Dover. He finished 36th in this race last year.
36. Harrison Rhodes
This will be Rhodes' sixth start in a Rick Ware Chevrolet. Four of his previous five ended in the mid- to high-30s.
37. Timmy Hill
Hill did not run this spring at Dover, but in seven starts he has never cracked the top 25. His best result came last spring with a 28th.
38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Three of Earnhardt's four Dover starts ended in results of 35th or worse. He stayed out of trouble in spring 2017 and finished 27th.
39. JJ Yeley
This team comes to the track each week and runs till the end. With some attrition, Yeley will move up the grid, but it's hard to predict how many drivers will fall out on Sunday.