With four drivers eliminated after last weekend, the Round of 12 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begins at Dover International Speedway this weekend. The green flag will wave for the Gander Outdoors 400 at 2:15 p.m. ET this Sunday (Oct. 7) on NBCSN.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 400-lap race will only have a total of 40.0 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to take a closer look at for Sunday’s race.
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ELITE TIER: $12,000 and up
Kevin Harvick ($14,500)
Dover: 35 starts, two wins, six top fives, 16 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 14.5
Don’t rest on Harvick this week. The No. 4 Ford is always fast out of the gate at Dover — he’s led 764 laps in the past seven races there, by far the best in the Cup Series. The problem is that he’s struggled at times to finish races in Victory Lane, like when he led 117 laps in the spring race in 2016 but finished 15th partially due to some terrible pit stops. Still, Harvick should be the overwhelming favorite this week, having already won the spring race earlier this year. A front row starting spot shouldn’t hurt as all the title contenders start up front after qualifying was rained out.
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500)
Dover: 25 starts, two wins, five top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 12.9
Dover is Truex’s home race, and he’s been pretty decent here over the years. In his last win at the track, Truex led 187 laps in the fall race in 2016 and won with a comfortable seven-and-a-half-second lead. Truex also started a top-five streak that began with that race and has carried on through the spring race of this year.
This team is also going to come to Dover loaded for bear — they were somewhat humiliated by that finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. With closure coming in November, there’s a lot of questions still as to whether Furniture Row Racing can perform at a high level these last two months they’re in operation. The team feels there’s a lot to prove.
Expect Truex to be a factor on Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($12,600)
Dover: Nine starts, no wins, four top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 8.1
Larson has been nothing short of fantastic at Dover. Save for the fall 2016 race, one where he wrecked and finished 25th, he has not finished worse than 11th at the Monster Mile. Larson was a bit off on speed this spring, but still finished 10th and should be able to rebound this weekend. Outside of Homestead-Miami Speedway, this race will probably be Larson’s best shot at getting a win before the season ends. The No. 42 team knows it and should be expected to build on their 378 laps led here in their past three Dover starts.
Clint Bowyer ($12,200)
Dover: 25 starts, no wins, three top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 12.5
Although Bowyer has never won at Dover, or even led more than 40 laps in a race there, he’s always been a fairly solid driver to have. At one point, Bowyer had a nine-race streak of top-10 finishes between 2011 and 2015 at the track. Stewart-Haas Racing, in general, seems to have figured something out at Dover. The team had three of its cars place in the top five in May (including Bowyer in second) and all four inside the top 11.
ALL-STAR TIER: $9,000-$11,900
Chase Elliott ($11,400)
Dover: Five starts, no wins, four top fives, four top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 5.0
Since joining the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Elliott’s best track has been Dover. As evidenced by his stat line above, no active driver has a better average finish at the Monster Mile. Elliott almost won the fall race last year but was passed for the lead in the closing laps and had to settle for second behind Kyle Busch. Easily his best track remaining, Elliott must maximize his points here to have a shot in the Round of 8.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,400)
Dover: 33 starts, 11 wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 9.1
Once one of Johnson’s strongholds on the calendar, the seven-time champion still hasn’t dropped off that much in recent years at Dover. Johnson’s 83rd career victory in the spring race of 2016 is his last win to date, which began a 51-race winless streak.
Dover and Martinsville Speedway this month will be Johnson’s best bet at continuing his storied streak of 16 years with at least one victory. Now that the No. 48 team’s out of the playoffs, expect crew chief Chad Knaus and company to throw everything into these two races.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,900 and below
Daniel Suarez ($8,900)
Dover: three starts, one top five, three top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 5.7
Like Elliott, Suarez is another young driver who has taken to Dover like a sponge takes to water. He came in third in the spring race this year, a tick behind his runner-up result at Pocono Raceway for his best career finish in Cup. Suarez also has a NASCAR XFINITY Series win to his credit at this track.
Matt Kenseth ($7,900)
Dover: 38 starts, three wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s
Average finish at Dover: 12.7
Kenseth’s career stats are also just too good to pass up. He’s got a streak of five straight top-12 finishes at the track, including a win in the spring of 2016.
While it’s been a difficult run for him at Roush Fenway Racing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway showed his No. 6 Ford can occasionally show some speed. Even if he can’t contend for a win this weekend, Kenseth should still be able to bring home a solid top-20 result. All his years of experience at Dover should pay off.
Ty Dillon ($5,000)
Dover: Four starts, zero top fives, zero top 10s
Average finish: 23.0
For a driver at this price, Dillon has a fairly decent record of staying out of trouble. His three finishes at Dover for Germain Racing have been 14th, 22nd and 24th. That’s not bad at all for a solid, cheap driver to round out your lineup. Dillon has also led 27 laps here on pit strategy, keeping the Germain Racing Chevrolet close enough to contend.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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