The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Dover, Delaware, this week for the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. This will be the first race this season on a high-banked one-mile race track.
Jimmie Johnson held off his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to win the last race at Dover. Johnson led 243 of the 400 laps to take home his record eighth win at the Monster Mile. Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified on the pole and led 80 laps to finish second. Each of the drivers from Hendrick Motorsports will be good picks for your fantasy team this week.
Drivers who can find a rhythm during the 400-lap race will dominate Sunday. Fantasy NASCAR teams should look at past performances at Dover to determine the drivers for their teams. Drivers either know how to run up front at Dover or don't. This is a hard track to learn on the fly.
The strategy for Fantasy Live this week is to select drivers who will start up front. Track position will be very important, and the drivers who lead multiple laps will score your team some valuable bonus points.
Racing for the Win
1. Jimmie Johnson: After waiting 12 races to score his first victory of the season, Johnson will make it back-to-back wins this week at Dover. Johnson has dominated this race track in the past, and it should be no different Sunday. He has eight wins and has finished half of his races in the top five and 17 of his 24 starts in the top 10. Johnson also has won five poles at Dover. He is as close as it comes to a lock for a top-five finish this week.
2. Kevin Harvick: Dover is not one of Harvick’s best race tracks, but as good as he has been this season, it will be hard to leave him off your fantasy team. Harvick has never won a race at Dover, but he has finished 12 of his 26 races in the top 10. He finished both races last season inside the top 10. The only thing that can stop the No. 4 team is its pit crew.
3. Jeff Gordon: If Gordon really has found the fountain of youth this season, the rest of the field may be in trouble. Gordon dominated the races at Dover early in his career the same way Johnson is dominating the races now. Gordon has four wins, has finished 24 races in the top 10 and has won four poles at Dover. He is an excellent pick for your team this week.
4. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has run well at Dover, but his finishing positions have not been great. While he finished two of the last four races outside the top 35, his driver rating is sixth-best. Last September, he started on the front row and finished seventh. Kenseth will run up front this week.
5. Kyle Busch: Busch has had many good runs at Dover, but he does not have the results that Jimmie Johnson has. In the last four races at the race track, Busch has the second-best driver rating and led the second-most laps. He finished both races last season inside the top five, and he should do it again Sunday.
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Earnhardt had a great race at Dover in September. He won the pole, led 80 laps and finished second. He has the fifth-best driver ranking and the third-best average finishing position over the last four races at Dover. He is a good pick for a top-10 finish this week.
7. Joey Logano: Logano has never won a race at Dover, but he has finished six of his 10 races in the top 10. Logano has the fourth-best average finishing position over the last four races at Dover. He should extend his streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes at the race track Sunday.
8. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski should be a good pick for your team this week. In this race last year, he started eighth and finished fifth. Keselowski knows how to get around the Monster Mile. He will easily finish in the top 10 this week.
9. Carl Edwards: Edwards did not have much success at Dover last season. He finished both races outside the top 10. That should change this week. Edwards is off to a good season, and his win at Bristol should translate into a good run at Dover.
10. Clint Bowyer: Dover is one of Bowyer’s best race tracks. He has finished nine of his 16 races there in the top 10. Bowyer has finished six races in a row at Dover in the top 10. He will make it seven consecutive races Sunday.
11. Brian Vickers: Vickers has only competed in one race in the Sprint Cup Series at Dover since 2011. He started 22nd and finished 12th in the race. Vickers ran well at Bristol and should run in the top 15 Sunday. The No. 55 team has a lot of momentum going into Dover.
12. Kurt Busch: Busch ran much better at Dover when he was racing for Penske Racing than he did the last two years at Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row Racing. He should get back to the front this week in his Stewart-Haas Racing car.
13. Kyle Larson: Larson has never competed in a Sprint Cup Series race at Dover, but he has two starts in the Nationwide Series at the race track. He finished both of his starts in the top 10. Larson is a quick learner and is a great pick for your team this week.
14. Tony Stewart: Stewart won the last race at Dover. He only led three laps, but they were the three most important laps of the race. Stewart has three wins at Dover, and when the track is hot and slick, he is the driver to beat. You may want to watch the weather forecast before selecting Stewart this week.
15. Ryan Newman: Newman has good stats at Dover. He has three wins, has finished half of his starts in the top 10 and has won four poles. In the race last September, Newman started eighth and finished third. He probably will not run that well this week, but a top-15 finish should be expected from Newman Sunday.
16. Greg Biffle: Biffle has been hit-or-miss at Dover in his career. He has finished 11 races in the top 10 and eight races outside the top 15. He does have two wins at Dover, but the last win came in 2008. Expect Biffle to run in the top 20 this week.
17. Kasey Kahne: Kahne has only finished five of his 20 starts at Dover in the top 10. There is no reason to believe Kahne will run up front this week. He has finished outside the top 10 in three consecutive races. Kahne should run inside the top 20 but not much more.
18. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won back-to-back poles for this race in 2012 and 2013. His problem is staying up front during the race. Hamlin has only finished three of his last 10 races at Dover in the top 10. I do not expect a top-10 finish from him this week.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has started three races in the Sprint Cup Series at Dover. He finished each of the races inside the top 20. Dover is one of Stenhouse’s better race tracks. If you were ever going to use him for your team, this would be the week.
20. Marcos Ambrose: The Richard Petty Motorsports cars have run well on the short race tracks this season. Ambrose finished fifth at Bristol and Martinsville. It would be a lot to expect Ambrose to repeat those performances, but a top-20 finish will be easily accomplished by Ambrose.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Aric Almirola: Almirola had good runs for Richard Petty Motorsports at Bristol and Martinsville. Almirola finished third at Bristol and eighth at Martinsville. Do not expect the same this week.
22. AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger usually finishes worse than he starts at Dover. His average starting position is 14.8, and his average finishing position is 22.9. Expect Allmendinger to start near his average and finish near his average Sunday.
23. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has been pretty good at Dover in his career, but he has not been able to find much success with the Furniture Row Racing team. He only has one top-10 finish this year. He will not be adding another top-10 finish this week.
24. Austin Dillon: Dillon has never competed in a Sprint Cup Series race at Dover, but he does have four starts in the Nationwide Series at the race track. He finished all four races in the top 10. The competition will be much harder for him this week. Expect a top-25 finish from Dillon.
25. Paul Menard: There are better race tracks to use Menard than at Dover. Menard has only finished in the top 10 in one of his 13 starts at the race track. His average finishing position is No. 20. Menard should only run in the top 25 this week.
26. Jamie McMurray: McMurray has had some success at Dover, but he is too inconsistent to be considered for fantasy teams this week. In the two races last season, he finished No. 33 in the spring race and No. 11 in the fall. There are better choices for your team Sunday.
27. Danica Patrick: Patrick seems to be finding some success in the No. 10 car for Stewart-Haas Racing. After back-to-back quality finishes at the intermediate race tracks, now we get to see if she can perform on the Monster Mile. She only has three starts at the race track, and her best finish is No. 24.
28. Casey Mears: Mears may be worth a selection as a value pick this week, but if you select him, remember not to expect a top-15 finish. His average finishing position at Dover is 22.9.
29. Justin Allgaier: Allgaier has never competed at Dover in the Sprint Cup Series. He has had some success in his 10 Nationwide Series starts. Allgaier has four top-10 finishes and one top-five finish. He will find it more difficult this week.
30. David Ragan: There is really no reason to select Ragan for your team. Someone had to fill the No. 30 spot on this list, and Ragan makes the most sense. His average finishing position at Dover is 23.9, so there is some hope for Ragan having a decent finish. Just do not get carried away with your expectations.
Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick
Group B: Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers
Group C: Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon
Fantasy Live Picks
Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan and Michael McDowell
Fox Fantasy NASCAR Picks
Captain: Matt Kenseth
Driver 2: Brian Vickers
Driver 3: Greg Biffle
Driver 4: Clint Bowyer
Driver 5: Kyle Larson
*I am out of starts with Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR.
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