AAA Drive for Autism: Dover 400

As we head into the month of June the drivers of the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series take the roadshow to Dover Delaware to run the 48th Annual AAA 400 Drive for Autism. It will take at least 400 laps to complete the 400 miles that the race is scheduled for as the track affectionately known as ‘The Monster Mile’ is exactly that, one mile.

Dover International Speedway is a true oval as all four corners boast a 24 angle of banking while the straightaways are hardly flat as they sit at nine degrees on both the front and the backstretch. Concrete has been the name of the game here since the track was overhauled from asphalt in 1995. What this had effectively done has made the race a bit more boring as the amount of cautions had gone from 12 or more in both races in 1993 and 1994 to having just two consecutive races of double digit cautions since then.

Now of course you can say that moving the race from a 500 mile race to 400 miles in 1997 may have had an effect on that and you would be 100% correct. In fact Mark Martin won the first 400 mile race in the fall of 1997 with the aid of just one caution. That of course won’t happen in Sunday’s race with the implementation of stage racing but we should see a few more, especially at the end of each stage as the drivers scramble for the extra bonus points. Martin was just one of four cars that ended up on the lead lap that day.

Jimmie Johnson ($10,600) is the highest salaried driver on the board as his four wins in the last ten starts here at Dover are mainly the reason why. The driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has finished outside of the top 10 in three of the last four races this season and that was after winning two in a row to secure his spot in the playoffs later this season. Johnson will start from the 14th position as he has improved on his speed in both practices that occurred after qualifying by being the fourth and second fastest car in those practices. His price is a bit high but may be worth it in the end.

Although Johnson does well here at Dover, Las Vegas has inserted both Kyle Busch ($10,400) and Kevin Harvick ($10,100) as the favorites to win the race at 11-2 odds. Busch has racked up six top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts here while Harvick has five but does own the only win in those last 10 starts. Busch has earned the pole for Sunday’s race and does have a legitimate shot of leading a lot of laps as he has kept the #18 Pedigree Petcare Toyota in the top three in each of the final two practices. Meanwhile, Harvick will start from the 18th position but did have the sixth fastest car in the final practice.

Martin Truex Jr ($9,900), Matt Kenseth ($9,500) and Clint Bowyer ($8,800) have all run well here as evidence by each of them finishing in the top 10 seven times over the last 10 races here at Dover International Speedway.

Truex has done well in his last two races this season and looks to have found something as he will sit on the outside pole to start the race and has kept the speed up in the last two practices. It will surely be a treat to see who leads the first lap with Truex and Busch starting from the front row. If the playoffs were to start today Kenseth would be the one on the outside looking in as his 288 points are good enough for 17th in the standings.

One has to figure however that the driver of the #4 ToyotaCare Toyota will eventually win a race this season and today could be the day as he starts from the fourth position when the green flag drops this afternoon. If you have read my column this season you know my thoughts on Bowyer.

Being with a new team has worked wonders for him this season as he has chalked up five top 10 finishes so far this season. The interesting fact here is that the driver of the #14 Haas Automation Ford has completed the most laps of any driver over the last 10 races here at Dover with 3,998 of them. Bowyer will start from the 22nd spot on Sunday.

After five top five finishes in a row this season Joey Logano ($9,200) would probably like to just forget the last three in which he finished out of the top 20 in all of them. This bodes well for you however as most fantasy players use the ‘what have you done for me lately’ theory as opposed to the ‘what will you do for me today’ one. The driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford has eight top 10 finishes on ‘The Monster Mile’ in his last 10 starts here and will easily be overlooked today as he starts from the 26th position.

If we throw out last fall’s race we find that Jamie McMurray ($8,200) has chalked up his only two top 10 finishes over the last four starts here at Dover. He had engine problems last year but the driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet could be overlooked here as he starts from the 19th position. McMurray did have his Chevrolet in the top 10 where speed is concerned in both of the last two practices after qualifying.

Okay, now the fun starts. As we look down in the mid to bottom tiered drivers we find not only some big names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,800) and Ryan Newman ($7,200) we also find the regular cast of characters. Earnhardt has already announced his retirement plans and for the most part may be a little relieved as he finished 10th in last week’s Coca-Cola 600. That was his second best finish of the season and could be in play here as he rolls off in the sixth row on Sunday afternoon. Newman on the other hand has won a race this season and has finished in the lower teens over the last four starts here at Dover. He will start 13th.

I really dislike writing up Danica Patrick ($5,900) as her price point should indicate how she is doing this season. What am I talking about? I should have said for her career as she really hasn’t been the driver that most of her backers hoped she’d be. Regardless, in her nine starts here at Dover she has never finished worse than 29th and it is just our dumb luck that she will roll off from the 31st position this afternoon. The price is right.

 That will about do it for another look ‘Inside Nascar.’ Be sure to check in all week long as the folks here at have you covered for all of your fantasy needs. As always, follow me on twitter @elctrceye and good luck in your contests today.