After spending three weeks at 1 1/2-mile tracks, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is downsizing, as drivers are set to compete in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway.
The 1-mile oval in Dover, Del., is one of NASCAR’s oldest tracks, not to mention one of its most challenging. Passing can come at a premium for drivers at Dover, which is why making the most of opportunities is so important. Predicting who will be able to do this isn’t easy.
That’s where we come in.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning, or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Sunday’s race:
Must pick: Jimmie Johnson
You might be at the point where you’re saving Johnson’s starts for later in the season. But if there’s any time to use the seven-time champion, it’s now.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver has 10 wins and a 9.5 average finish at dover, both of which are the best of any driver on the series. Furthermore, he’s led 3,093 laps at the track, which is just absurd.
He actually hasn’t won here since 2015, but it matters not, as he should be in all fantasy lineups this weekend.
Stay away: Ryan Newman
Newman is a good B-List option depending on the track, but this is one of those times where you should look elsewhere.
He had success at Dover early in his career, including three wins. But in his last 10 races at the track, Newman’s finished in the top 10 just twice. Moreover, he’s finished outside the top 15 in each of his last four tries at Dover. Keep him on your bench Sunday.
Sleeper pick: Chase Elliott
It might seem strange to call Elliott, who is in the thick of the playoff chase, a sleeper. Nobody’s doubting Elliott’s talent, but he’s definitely cooled recently after a hot start to the season.
Dover, though, could be just what the doctor ordered.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver has raced at the track just twice on the Cup level, and in both races he finished third. We like his chances to notch another top-five.
Value pick: David Ragan
By now, there’s a good chance you’ve used a decent chunk of your starts for Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez, the two best C-List drivers in the sport. Ty Dillon seems like the logical next place to turn, but our money’s on David Ragan.
In his last four starts at Dover, the Front Row Motorsports driver has finished 22nd or better in three of them, including a 17th-place finish in this race last season. Take a chance on him Sunday, you’ll probably be glad you did.
Thumbnail photo via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports Images
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