Mike Forbes examines the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway!!
After a polarizing and dominant race win at Darlington last weekend, Martin Truex Jr. and the rest of the cup series racers will head to Dover, Delaware, and tackle the “Monster Mile” for this week’s Drydene 400, which will go Green around 2PM EST Sunday afternoon.
Joining the cup series this week will be the Xfinity series racers who will battle it out in the Drydene 200 Saturday afternoon when the green flag waves around 1:30PM EST.
The Camping World Trucks Series is off this weekend before they get back to action at the Circuit of the America’s next Saturday.
The one-mile concrete track in Dover is commonly called the “Monster Mile” because often, when there is a wreck, it can collect a bunch of cars. The turns here are banked at 24 degrees and the straightaways at 9 degrees. There isn’t a lot of room on the inside of the track, which means these cars will slide towards the wall due to the banking whenever they spin. Large crashes are not out of the norm at Dover.
I will have a full Xfinity race breakdown later in the weekend, but just looking at the entry list for Saturday’s race, there are not any real notable cup series drivers entered, which means we should have a pretty straightforward strategy when making profitable lineups for the 200. Ty Gibbs is entered in the 54, which means he will definitely be a driver to watch out for coming from the back half of the field. As I said, I will break down the Xfinity series race later, but I do want to jump into the cup series and highlight a few drivers we need to be looking at come Sunday.
Last week I finally listened to that inner voice and didn’t select Denny Hamlin or Kevin Harvick to win the race in Darlington. Eventual race winner Martin Truex Jr. would hold on to beat Kyle Larson, who looked strong on the final run before fading, and my hopes of cashing a race-winning ticket faded with him, as well. I was able to cash his top 3 bet, which made us slightly profitable betting, but I obviously would have preferred him taking the checkered flag.
The reason I point out Denny and Kevin is that these drivers have such great statistics at these race tracks recently that they always stand out. The past success they had, both last year and years past, means they look like favorites at most tracks we go to. In Denny’s case, he is putting together a strong season as he leads the series in points. We have yet to see him finish first, however, but I still have a ton of confidence in him winning multiple races this season and battling for the championship in Phoenix this Fall.
As for Harvick, we have documented his struggles so far this season. The good news for him and the Number 4 team is they are starting to make progress with that car. You are starting to notice them a little bit more each week. The finishes haven’t been where we expect from him, but at least they are battling with the other premier teams in the series. I think they figure it out and get back a little of what they had last year.
This week in Dover is another great opportunity for them as Harvick leads all drivers in average finishing position. Since 2018, he has finished 1st twice, 6th once and 4th three times. The last time the series raced here he dominated, winning both stages as well as the checkered flag. I think we see the 4 car get closer this week, but I still think they have some work to do in order to battle for a win. He will be starting in the 5th spot, so there isn’t a ton of value to be had in that category, but he is getting closer to being a driver we can watch in DFS.
The next driver I want to spotlight is another guy we have talked about a ton this year, and that is Martin Truex Jr. Martin dominated the race last weekend in Darlington, and we have seen him be really great at times this year. Dover is another track that he and his team excel at. Since joining Joe Gibbs Racing, Martin has a first and three seconds in four races. Think about how hard that is to do for a minute. His team has been really fast on short mile-plus tracks, including his win in Phoenix. He is going to be starting from the pole, which isn’t anything to be too excited about, but we know he is going to lead some laps and be there at the finish. Martin is a solid candidate for the top of your lineup and should be considered in both cash and tournament competitions.
It seems every week we talk about Kyle Larson and how we expect him to be in the hunt every time. This week is no different. Since joining Hendrick this year, Kyle has been in the hunt and could have as many victories as Truex if not for some bad luck. Kyle’s average finish for his career is 7.48, and that was all in the 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing. He will be starting 4th outside his teammate in the 24, but we should expect him to be even a little better when this race ends Sunday afternoon.
I glossed over the 24 car of William Byron, but he is turning heads every week. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that William Byron would be the class of the Hendrick Motorsports organization, I would have laughed you out the door. The pairing with Rudy Fugle seems to have ignited something in that team. The reason I didn’t see this coming was that last year he had hall of fame crew chief Chad Knaus on his box. That goes to show you just how important that pairing can be for a driver. Having him teamed up with someone he is that comfortable with and had success with in the past has made all the difference.
Byron’s career statistics are not all that impressive in Dover, but they haven’t been at many places this year, and he still comes out in the top ten. His ownership has been slowly rising as well, as each week people realize that this is not a fluke and the 24 team is once again a powerhouse. He did finish 4th here the last time the series raced on the “Monster Mile,” so look for William to once again be in the mix late.
There are other drivers who have a ton of success that we know about here. The usual suspects include Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. I am not going to spotlight them in this article but rather just rank them in our full field rankings.
Instead, I want to talk about a couple guys who have the potential to bring us a ton of value this weekend. The first one I want to talk about is Cole Custer. You don’t see his name too often in my weekly write-ups, and for good reason. The entire Stewart Haas organization has been underperforming this year. Guys like Aric Almirola, Cole Custer, and Chase Briscoe have been afterthoughts at best as we’ve moved through the first part of the season. This week, I think we can finally find some value in that organization.
Cole Custer has only raced a cup car in Dover two times in his career and has finishes of 10th and 11th to show for it. That’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but when you factor in that he will be starting in the 30th position, you can start to see my thought process. When you add in that his salary is rarely, if ever, above $7,000, it makes things that much more interesting. We probably won’t hear much from the 41, and that is ok this week. We want him to stay out of trouble and get a finish of 15th or better. If he can do that for us, he is a must-start at the bottom of our lineup.
I was high on Aric Almirola last weekend in Darlington. He was starting towards the back and had a good track record on the 1.33-mile track in the past. That all changed when he crashed very early in the race and ended up finishing dead last. Our hopes of chasing nearly went out the window, as well. This week, I think there is another opportunity to use Almirola, as he will be starting in the 32nd position. If he can avoid the same fate he had last week, he would be a heck of a value play. If he can get up to his average finishing position of just over 15th, and we can use him in the 4th or 5th spot in our lineup, we will be looking at a nice payday Sunday night.
Some other drivers in the back we want to consider include Kurt Busch, who crashed out of last week’s event and continued his nightmare of a season in the 1 car. He has a respectable finishing average of 14.17 in his last six races here, but that includes a 40th in the first August race here last year.
Daniel Suarez is a guy who gets a lot of space in my articles this season, but he and that 99 team have started to slip lately. He will roll off 24th, which is about where I would expect them to run most of the day. I do not see enough value to use him this week.
Erik Jones is a guy I had high on my rankings last week, and it was looking good until a late-race pit stop cost him a lead lap finish. He has relatively good numbers in Dover, but the move to the 43 will not do him any favors. I like him over Suarez this week, but I do not think this is where we want to spend our salary dollars when we build our lineups.
Let’s go through the full field rundown for Sunday’s Drydene 400.
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
- William Byron
- Kyle Larson
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Busch
- Joey Logano
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
- Alex Bowman
- Kurt Busch
- Christopher Bell
- Tyler Reddick
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Austin Dillon
- Cole Custer
- Ryan Newman
- Aric Almirola
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Chris Buescher
- Bubba Wallace
- Daniel Suarez
- Chase Briscoe
- Erik Jones
- Ross Chastain
- Corey LaJoie
- Michael McDowell
- Ryan Preece
- Justin Haley
- Anthony Alfredo
- Quin Houff
- James Davison
- BJ McLeod
- Garrett Smithley
- Josh Bilicki
- Cody Ware
In an effort to better prepare you for the weekend, we are getting you the articles earlier so that we can have you ready for the weekend. At the time of this article, full salaries have not been announced, but we still can go through and build ourselves a lineup that we feel strongly about cashing.
At the top of my lineup, I really like William Byron and Brad Keselowski. We didn’t spotlight Brad, but he starts in the 15th spot this weekend. The two of them together is probably a better tournament lineup than a cash game because it allows us to take more chances in the middle of the lineup. If I was strictly playing cash, I might go with Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick at the top. Other drivers to consider in the number one or two spots include Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin.
Moving to the middle, I like Alex Bowman and Matt DiBenedetto. These two drivers have a way of sneaking into the top ten at the end of these races, and that is what we need from drivers we start in these positions. Kurt Busch is a tournament play for this weekend as I think he greatly improves from his 28th starting position, but there is a lot of risk with that type of lineup. I would also consider Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney if you could afford them here.
The bottom of our lineup starts with either Cole Custer or Aric Almirola. It will take a lot to get the 10 of Almirola in down here, but I think they both have huge upside this week. I also like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. if we can afford him in the 5th spot. Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones are guys who could fill your lineup if needed, but we probably don’t want to go hunting any lower than that this week.
Looking at bets we want to make on the Cup series Sunday, I am going to go with Kyle Larson again at 4/1. He paid off a little last week, but this is the week I think he gets back in victory lane, and we cash a winning ticket.
Mid-Pack: I love Kevin Harvick at 8.5/1. I don’t love the odds. He has a real chance to get in victory lane this weekend IF, and that is a big IF, everything goes his way. I don’t think 8.5/1 are big enough odds to use him as my mid-pack driver, so I am going with William Byron at 16/1. Trust me, if we keep getting odds like this for the 24 car, we will make a lot of money this season.
For a long shot, I am going to go with Ryan Blaney at 22/1. I just don’t love anything lower than that at a track like Dover. No reason to throw away money and go for guys who really have no chance at winning the race.
I will be back with a full article on the Xfinity series as we head into the weekend. As always, our guy Sean Engel will have you covered with the Drydene 400 article as well as the cheat sheet in time for the race Sunday.
You can follow me on Twitter @mikejforbes for updates all weekend long.