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Erik Jones
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NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: Drydene 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 1, 2019, 3:31 pm ET

Dover International Speedway can be a treacherous place. With lap times in the low 20 second bracket on a 1-mile, high-banked oval, there is not a lot of time to avoid trouble. Ringed by concrete walls on both sides, the straightaway canyons are narrow and track blocking accidents are not uncommon. In fact, over the course of its history, several 'Big One' accidents that rival what will be seen next week at Talladega Superspeedway have occurred.

But Dover is also a rhythm track. When drivers find the right groove, they often rattle off long sequences of top-five and -10 finishes. Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Larson have a preponderance of strong runs in the past several years. Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer don’t have to look too far into the past to find impressive streaks.

Just like with last week’s Bank of America Roval 400k at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Drydene 400 will have some very dramatic moments. The four drivers who failed to advance in the playoffs will be out to prove something; the 12 who are still in contention are going to be highly motivated to win and lock themselves into the next round because the wild card of Talladega is right around the corner. As with the BoA Roval 400k, however, once the smoke clears the drivers who are expected to be up front will be.

Stage points will continue to be important, but one should note they are not always an indication of a good overall finish at Dover. Since the implementation of Stage points in 2017, Kyle Busch has finished in the top 10 in the first two segments of every race and amassed the third-most points of 58; his average finish in that span is 14th. Brad Keselowski has scored 51 stage points (fourth-best) with an average finish of 16th. Meanwhile last year’s winner and a driver with a near-perfect record to top-fives at Dover, Chase Elliott has only the fifth-most stage points (46).


Playoff: Chase Elliott
Winning the race and a stage last week added six bonus points to Elliott’s total and that is its enduring power. He still lags behind Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., but he has a couple of great opportunities to close that bonus gap and potentially ease his path to the Championship Round. This is the part of the playoffs where Elliott shined brightest last year. He won at Dover and Kansas Speedway, but did not have enough bonus points prior to that surge to advance. More importantly, Elliott has finished outside the top five at Dover only once in his seven-race career.  

Playoff: Martin Truex Jr.
Truex earned his first career win at Dover in his sophomore season. He would not visit the top five again until 2016 when he won on this treacherous track for a second time. Since then he has finished in the top five in all but one race. Fantasy owners might be given momentary pause when they realize that his single struggle in the past few seasons was in this race last year. The biggest recommendation for starting him is his two victories during Round 1.

Non-Playoff: Erik Jones
Of the four drivers who failed to advance in the playoffs, Jones is hands’ down the best value this week and in two weeks at Kansas. That actually limits his appeal somewhat because the vast majority of players who are actively playing will anchor him. Jones finished fourth in last year’s edition of this race and was sixth in the spring. Having Jones on your roster may not allow you to make up ground on the competition, but you won’t lose any either. However, there might be an opportunity at this level. If you are comfortable with your two playoff Drivers, make the garage pick a non-playoff racer and that gives you a chance to swap him in if Jones’ luck continues to be as bad as it was in Round 1.

Non-Playoff: Daniel Suarez
The playoff drivers will continue to dominate the top-five, so selecting a driver at this level needs to be based on his likelihood of scoring a top-10. Suarez has been almost perfect in that regard at Dover with four such finishes in his first two seasons. The only time he’s missed that mark was this spring when he finished 11th in the Gander RV 400. Suarez is more predictable this week than any other non-playoff driver including Jones.

Garage Pick

Playoff: Kevin Harvick
Harvick did not garner much attention last week before the race began, but he made up for that once the green flag waved. He was part of the battle throughout the race and had a great shot at winning. Dover has not been his favorite track. With an average finish of 14th in 37 starts, it’s actually well down the order. But Harvick has been getting better here in recent years with a win in spring 2018, a sixth last fall, and a fourth this May. He’s a good driver to have waiting in the wings.

Non-Playoff: Matt DiBenedetto
This is precisely the type of track on which DiBenedetto has excelled. While there is not a close comparative since Bristol Motor Speedway was reconfigured in 2012, that half-mile bullring remains the closest in personality and the skill required to navigate it—and DiBenedetto’s effort in the Night Race at Bristol is still extremely fresh in fantasy players’ memories. Still, the No. 95 finished only 20th at Dover in the spring and that keeps him from being an outright favorite.

Red Flag

Kyle Busch
It’s not like Busch to pace himself. Whatever has been happening to the team in the past month is not part of some grand plan and most of the mistakes have been made from inside the cockpit. Busch can rebound. He will be a serious contender for the championship with a fairly easy path to the final four, but there are likely to be a few more stumbles along the way. Busch has been erratic at Dover in recent years. From 2014 through last spring he either finished in the top two or well outside the top 25 in nearly every race. Last fall he earned an eighth in this event and was 10th this spring, but neither of those results will make him a top value in the NASCAR.com Fantasy Live game.

Stage Wins This Year
Kyle Busch (11), Joey Logano (9), Kevin Harvick (5), Martin Truex Jr. (5), Chase Elliott (5), Kyle Larson (5), Brad Keselowski (4), Denny Hamlin (3), Kurt Busch (3), Ryan Blaney (2), Austin Dillon (2), Ty Dillon (2), William Byron (1), Aric Almirola (1), and Jimmie Johnson (1).

 

Segment wins and points at Dover
(10 segments to date)

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Kevin Harvick

70

9

4

Martin Truex Jr.

60

8

3

Kyle Busch

58

10

 

Brad Keselowski

51

8

1

Chase Elliott

46

9

 

Kyle Larson

42

6

1

Jimmie Johnson

31

5

 

Joey Logano

29

5

1

Clint Bowyer

29

6

 

Ryan Blaney

15

5

 

Matt Kenseth

15

2

 

Kurt Busch

14

3

 

Daniel Suarez

13

3

 

Alex Bowman

13

2

 

Denny Hamlin

9

3

 

Erik Jones

8

4

 

Aric Almirola

8

2

 

Paul Menard

7

2

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

7

1

 

Kasey Kahne

6

2

 

Danica Patrick

6

1

 

William Byron

5

1

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4

1

 

David Ragan

2

1

 

Jamie McMurray

2

1

 

 

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.