NASCAR Fantasy: Who's Hot and Who's Not (Dover Edition)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IMay 27, 2009

DOVER, DE - SEPTEMBER 21:  Drivers race past the grandstand during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 21, 2008 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

This weekend, the boys head to Dover International Speedway for the Autism Speaks 400 Presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips and Cheese.

To begin with, we'll take a look at some of the hottest drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit today, as well as some of the sleepers to avoid on your Fantasy Roster this weekend.

 

Who's Hot?

Mark Martin

The 50-year-old has taken on the role of underdog, as he was once teetering on the edge of staying inside the top 35 in points.

After finishing 16th in the season-opening Daytona 500, Martin began his backwards slide with back-to-back finishes of 40th place at California and Las Vegas. The next week in Atlanta, Martin again had problems and finished 31st.

Three consecutive bad finishes had the No. 5 Chevy on the edge of the top 35 and had many wondering if Martin still had it.

The next week at Bristol, Martin began a streak of four straight finishes inside the top seven—including a win at Phoenix.

Although he finished a season-worst 43rd at Talladega, the No. 5 team came storming back the next week with a top-five at Richmond and a win at Darlington. Throw in a 16th-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and it's easy to see why Martin is now inside the Chase, storming towards that elusive championship.

At Dover: Martin has four wins, 21 top fives, 28 top-10s, four poles, an average finish of 12.8, and an average running position of 9.8 (fifth-best).

In Loop Data (since 2005) Martin has a Driver Rating of 100.6 (sixth-best), 217 Fastest Laps Run (fourth-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 141.421 MPH (sixth-fastest), 2,463 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9 percent, fourth-most), and 172 Quality Passes (sixth-most).

 

Kyle Busch

When is Rowdy Busch ever not one of the hottest drivers on the circuit? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This kid could win driving a cardboard box with spiked wheels through sand—he's just that good.

Busch easily had one of the cars to beat at Lowe's Motor Speedway but was relegated to a sixth-place finish after the skies opened up and the race was called off.

This year, Busch leads all drivers with three wins and is a threat to win each and every weekend.

At Dover: Busch has visited Victory Lane once at the one-mile track and collected five top-fives, five top-10s, and posted an average finish of 14.4.

According to NASCAR Loop Data, Busch has an Average Running Position of 14 (12th-best), a Driver Rating of 102.3 (fifth-best), 168 Fastest Laps Run (sixth-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 141.584 MPH (third-fastest), and 2,206 Laps in the Top 15 (68.9 percent, ninth-most).

 

Kurt Busch

The elder Busch has long been overshadowed by his brother in recent years but appears to be back on track in 2009.

Many questioned his decision to leave the team he won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with (Roush Fenway) to drive the No. 2 Dodge at Penske Racing.

This year, Busch is proving those doubters wrong, as he continues to have solid finishes and put himself in position for wins. He has collected one win (Atlanta) in 2009 and sits third in the championship points.

At Dover: Busch has yet to visit Victory Lane at the one-mile track but does have two top-fives, four top-10s, and an average finish of 21.4.

According to NASCAR's Loop Data, Busch has an Average Running Position of 12.8 (eighth-best), a Driver Rating of 91.0 (10th-best), 99 Fastest Laps Run (ninth-most), 293 Green Flag Passes (11th-most), and 167 Quality Passes (eighth-most).

 

Any Roush Fenway Driver

The Roush Fenway Fords have been tough at Dover International Speedway, with Carl Edwards collecting five consecutive finishes in the top three, including a win in the fall of 2007. Edwards has yet to win in 2009.

Matt Kenseth won at Dover in the spring of 2006 and finished runner-up at the one-mile track last fall.

Greg Biffle is the defending race pole winner and has visited Victory Lane twice in Dover. He also has collected top-10 finishes in each of the last six Dover races.

Jamie McMurray has the sixth-best Driver Rating (79.8) at Dover and had a runner-up finish in 2006.

David Ragan, however, has yet to finish in the top-10 in five races at the one-mile track.

 

Dark Horse

Martin Truex Jr.

After competing most of the season in 2008 for a Chase spot, Truex Jr. and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy came into 2009 looking to continue that success.

The season has been one of ups and downs for Truex, who is currently in his last year of his contract with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.

Truex Jr. has only two top-10s in 2009 (Darlington and Phoenix) but visits a track this weekend where he collected his first (and only) Sprint Cup win.

At Dover: Truex has collected one win at the one-mile track, one top-five, three top-10s, and has an average finish of 11.3.

According to NASCAR Loop Data, Truex has an Average Running Position of 12.0 (seventh-best), a Driver Rating of 95.3 (eighth-best), and 144 Fastest Laps Run (seventh-most).

 

Who's Not

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With only two top-10 finishes in 2009, Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team are one to stay away from on your Fantasy Roster.

Last week, Earnhardt's car was horrible, resulting in a season-worst 40th-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

At Dover: In 18 Cup races at the one-mile track, Earnhardt Jr. has visited Victory Lane once. He has also collected four top-fives and seven top-10s and has an average finish of 17.3.

 

Any Richard Childress Racing Driver

Is this a team that is backpedaling or what? After placing all three of its teams in the 2008 Chase, RCR currently has only one team in the top 12.

Jeff Burton remains the only RCR Chevy in a Chase spot and is currently sitting in eighth place in the point standings.

Clint Bowyer sits 17th, 109 points out of 12th, but he has a lot of quality drivers to pass to reach that spot.

Meanwhile, Casey Mears and Kevin Harvick sit 22nd and 23rd respectively in the points and appear out of Chase contention all together.

 

Hot Facts (From NASCAR Media)

• Carl Edwards has an average finish of 7.7 in nine races at Dover, the best average finish of any driver in history with more than two starts at the track. David Pearson (8.0 in 16 races) ranks second among the drivers with more than two starts there.

• Ryan Newman won at Dover in June 2003—the first victory for Dodge there since 1975. Newman repeated as the race winner in the fall race, the first time Dodge posted consecutive victories at Dover. Newman then won again in the fall of 2004, giving Dodge three of their five Dover victories in the four-race span.

 

NASCAR in Delaware

• There have been 78 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Delaware, all at Dover International Speedway.

• Eight drivers in NASCAR’s three national series (all-time) have their home state recorded as Delaware, though none have posted victories.

 

Dover International Speedway Data

Race No.: 13 of 36 (May 31, 2009)

Track Size: One mile

Banking/Corners: 24 degrees

Banking/Straights: Nine degrees

Frontstretch: 1,076 feet

Backstretch: 1,076 feet

 

 

 

Driver Rating at Dover

Greg Biffle                     116.6

Matt Kenseth                 114.5

Carl Edwards                 105.7

Jimmie Johnson             102.9

Kyle Busch                    102.3

Mark Martin                   100.6

Ryan Newman                98.4

Martin Truex Jr.              95.3

Jeff Gordon                    91.4

Kurt Busch                     91.0

 

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2008 races (8 total) at Dover.

 

 

 

Qualifying/Race Data

 

2008 pole winner: Greg Biffle (155.214 MPH, 23.193 seconds)

2008 race winner: Kyle Busch (121.171 MPH, Jun. 1, 2008)

Track qualifying record: Jeremy Mayfield (161.522 MPH, 22.288 secs.,

Jun. 4, 2004)

Track race record: Mark Martin (132.719 MPH, Sept. 21, 1997)

 

 

 

Estimated Pit Window: Every 72-78 laps, based on fuel mileage.