Johnson Should Dominate On Sunday
With qualifying getting rained out this afternoon, the starting lineup will be set according to practice speeds, which means Jimmie Johnson will start from the pole for the race on Sunday. The complete starting lineup can be found by clicking here. Both practices were held Friday afternoon, and in case you want to check out average speeds, you can click here to see my practice breakdown.
Last season at Dover, Kyle Busch won the spring race and Jimmie Johnson got the win in the fall. To see the results for those races, click here and here, respectively. The fall results also show how each driver did in the race compared to their average practice speed that weekend. Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin all posted top tens in both Dover races during the 2010 season.
Top Fifteen For The FedEx 400:
1. Jimmie Johnson – Starts 1st – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 11.6 (three wins)
**Change from my preview: +1 spot. — Risk Factor: Virtually No Risk**
After practice, I said to myself: if Johnson wins the pole, this race is his to lose. Well, he got the pole due to his fast lap in first practice, and I think we will see the #48 Chevrolet dominate the field tomorrow afternoon. In first practice, Jimmie had the best ten-lap average by over two miles per hour. He ended up third in ten-lap average during second practice. Johnson should lead this race early, often, and late; expect him to get his second win of the season on Sunday.
2. Matt Kenseth – Starts 24th – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 10.0 (one win)
**Change from my preview: +3 spots. — Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Kenseth was the other drive that was in the top five in terms of ten-lap average during both practice sessions. He starts kind of deep in the field, but Matt should be used to that by now. Before last fall’s 18th-place effort, Kenseth had a streak of five straight top fives at Dover, and his average starting position in those five races was 17.4. The #17 Ford is fast this weekend and Matt found victory lane at “The Monster Mile” in 2006.
3. Carl Edwards – Starts 13th – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 9.9 (one win)
**Change from my preview: -2 spots — Risk Factor: Virtually No Risk**
Cousin Carl is just really good at Dover. He has made 13 career starts here and he has never finished worse than 18th. Edwards won here in 2007 and his average finish at “The Monster Mile” is 7.7. He didn’t blow anybody away in practice this weekend, but all of the Fords seem to be wicked fast, and when you combine that with Edwards’ history at this track, a top five finish should be expected this weekend.
4. Ryan Newman – Starts 28th – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 13.9 (one win)
**Change from my preview: -2 spots. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
I said in my preview that this is Newman’s best track, and that’s about the only thing that has him ranked 4th. He was terrible in practice (40th on the average speed chart) and he starts decently far back. He averages a finish around 10th at Dover, though, and hasn’t finished worse than 14th here since 2007. This ranking may be too high for Newman when it’s all said and done, but you never know: he could have been sandbagging in practice like his car owner has been known to do. Proceed with caution if you pick “The Rocketman” on Sunday.
5. Kevin Harvick – Starts 10th – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 20.6
**Change from my preview: +7 spots. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Somewhat of a surprise was Kevin Harvick on the ten-lap average chart in second practice when he ended up 5th. “Happy” has led just one lap in the last 14 races at Dover, and while I don’t think he’ll win on Sunday, a top five is definitely within his reach. This is Harvick’s second top ten starting spot this season on tracks other than superspeedways, and in the first one the #29 Chevrolet went to victory lane (in Martinsville). Kevin finished 7th and 15th in the races at Dover in 2010.
6. Tony Stewart – Starts 27th – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 11.8
**Change from my preview: +1 spot. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Like his teammate Ryan Newman, “Smoke” didn’t blow anybody out of the water in practice and he starts mid-pack. Stewart owns an average finish of 11.8 and this track though and has finished in the top eleven in five of the last seven races here. When Tony finished 2nd at “The Monster Mile” in 2009, he started 31st that day, so he definitely knows how to get through traffic here. Like I said in my preview, don’t go against Tony Stewart when he has a little momentum, and I think he will grab his third top ten in a row on Sunday.
7. Denny Hamlin – Starts 26th – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 15.9
**Change from my preview: -1 spots. — Risk Factor: High Risk**
Denny Hamlin is on “High Risk” this week because of two things: 1. he’s not stellar here and 2. are the Gibbs engine problems back? Denny’s average finish at Dover is 21.4 and while he has five top 10s in ten career starts here, Hamlin also has five finishes outside of the top twenty. As you know, Kyle Busch’s engine blew up in practice, so it has to be in the back of your mind that something might be wrong with Denny’s too. I think the #11 Toyota is fast enough for a solid top ten, but there’s definitely some risk in putting Hamlin on your fantasy roster this weekend. Proceed with caution.
8. Kyle Busch – Starts 7th (actually 43rd) – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 10.0
**Change from my preview: -4 spots. — Risk Factor: High Risk**
I almost put “Rowdy” on my avoid list for tomorrow, but it’s Kyle Busch and he’s about the only driver in the field that can overcome a blown engine and hitting the wall in practice, and then starting from the rear of the field. He had to be one of the happiest drivers that qualifying got rained out, because I don’t think he had a chance to get the seventh pit stall selection. Busch still had the tenth-fastest ten-lap average once he got the new engine in, so he has the speed to get to the front. Like his teammate, though, proceed with caution if you have Kyle on your roster Sunday.
9. Mark Martin – Starts 25th – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 14.8 (one win)
**Change from my preview: no change. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Chances are this ranking will be too high for Martin (I think it’s more likely he will finish around 16th thru 18th) but he had the third fastest ten-lap average in second practice and Martin has finished outside of the top fifteen just once in his past fourteen starts at “The Monster Mile”. His career average finish here is 12.5 and Mark Martin has visited victory lane four times at Dover. The #5 has been a risky pick this year, but the Chevy is decently fast this weekend (11th in average speed).
10. A.J. Allmendinger – Starts 2nd – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 13.0
**Change from my preview: was on underdog list. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
PUT A.J. ALLMENDINGER ON YOUR ROSTER RIGHT NOW. I have “The Dinger” ranked 10th just to be conservative, but I honestly think that this kid could visit victory lane on Sunday. He’s been fast since he got off the truck and he led 143 laps here last fall after starting 2nd. Allmendinger’s last three trips to Dover have resulted in finishes of 7th, 14th, and 10th. A.J. is having a great season and I think he will give Johnson a run for his money on Sunday.
11. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Starts 3rd – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 11.6
**Change from my preview: wasn’t ranked. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
In case you didn’t read my tweet about Junior the other day, click here to read it. Will this be the week that the winless streak ends? He has a good starting spot and a decently fast Chevy (6th in ten-lap average during second practice). Here’s what Dale’s spotter tweeted during first practice. He visited victory lane here in 2001, but Junior hasn’t posted a top ten finish at Dover since 2007. Still, the #88 team is having a great, consistent season, and while I think a top five is possible, a finish between 7th and 11th is more likely for Earnhardt, Jr. this weekend.
12. Kasey Kahne – Starts 4th – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 13.1
**Change from my preview: wasn’t ranked. — Risk Factor: High Risk**
Kahne topped the ten-lap average charts in second practice and was 7th-fastest in ten-lap average during the first session. He also ended up 6th in total average speed for the two practices. Kasey has three top 10s at “The Monster Mile” in his fourteen career starts, but he has finished 3rd and 4th at Richmond and Darlington, and some people (myself included) didn’t think he had a chance to finish there. The #4 Red Bull car is a risky pick this week, but he starts in the top five and has a pretty fast car. High risk, high reward.
13. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 8th – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 21.8
**Change from my preview: no change. — Risk Factor: High Risk**
If Truex doesn’t run into bad luck tomorrow, he could post a good run. He had the best average speed of the major drivers on Friday but he didn’t have any ten consecutive lap runs, which surprised me. Truex won here in 2007 and finished 12th and 34th at Dover last season. He finally had a solid run last weekend, so that might carry over into Dover–or the bad luck bug could bite the #56 team again.
14. Jeff Burton – Starts 16th – Yahoo! Fantasy B Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 10.9
**Change from my preview: -4 spots. — Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
I said in my preview that Burton could grab his first top ten of the season this weekend at “The Monster Mile,” but I think a finish around 15th is more likely for him. He was 11th and 9th in ten-lap average for the practice sessions on Friday, so his car isn’t junk by any means, but I just don’t see Burton being very racy on Sunday for some reason. He finished 2nd in both races at Dover last season and his career average finish (over 34 races) is 15.5 at this track.
15. Greg Biffle – Starts 12th – Yahoo! Fantasy A Group
–Average finish of this ranking in 2011 = 13.5
**Change from my preview: -7 spots. — Risk Factor: Low Risk**
This ranking is a lot lower than what other people will have Biffle at, but for some reason I don’t think he’s going to be as good at Dover tomorrow as he usually is. The Biff has made 17 starts at “The Monster Mile” and owns an average finish of 11th and two wins. He has finished in the top ten in eight of the last ten races at Dover, and while I think he could get a top ten again on Sunday, I think he may disappoint some fantasy owners (as well as himself) once it’s all said and done.
Just Outside The Top Fifteen For The FedEx 400:
David Ragan – I really like how David Ragan is running this year. He currently has his best average finish since the 2008 season (where he finished 13th in points) and he already has as many top 10s this year as he did during the entire 2010 season. Ragan has been consistently average at Dover, with the last four races ending in finishes between 24th and 26th, but I think he will stay around his starting position on Sunday and could challenge for a top ten with a little luck. The #6 Ford was 8th in ten-lap average during the second practice session.
Joey Logano – “Sliced Bread” is having a terribly disappointing season, but he posted finishes of 10th and 3rd at Dover last season and he starts 5th on Sunday. Logano wasn’t spectacular in practice, and I don’t really like the Gibbs Toyotas this weekend, but he could have a good run on Sunday. He needs one, too–Joey’s best finish this season is 10th (at Talladega).
Paul Menard – The #27 Chevrolet had the fourth-best ten-lap average in second practice and Paul finished 7th at Dover last fall after starting 9th. He will roll off the grid 20th on Sunday, and while I don’t foresee another top ten for Menard at “The Monster Mile”, a top fifteen is possible.
Stay Away From These Drivers For The FedEx 400:
Brad Keselowski – BK starts 9th but expect him to fall like a rock once the green flag waves. He lucked into his top five finish last week, and that’s about the only way Keselowski will get a good finish on Sunday. He’s battling the flu and could barely get out of the car (due to pain) on Friday, so I’m not even sure if he will race the full 400 laps.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon just hasn’t been very fast all weekend, and like I said in my preview, he’s not running up to his potential. He finished 11th in both Dover races last season, but I think it will take a little luck and some strategy for Gordon to come close to that this weekend. I’d use Gordon another week; there are much better options for this race.
Jamie McMurray – Neither Jamie Mac nor his teammate (Juan Montoya) have impressed me at all this weekend. McMurray starts 31st and when you add that in with the fact that he doesn’t have a very fast car, the #1 Chevy should be avoided this week in fantasy.
My (Tentative) Fantasy NASCAR Picks:
OnPitRow.com: Favorite – Jimmie Johnson, Darkhorse – Kasey Kahne
Yahoo!: A-List: Jimmie Johnson, B-List: Kasey Kahne & A.J. Allmendinger, C-List: David Ragan
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger, Andy Lally
Racing4Glory.com “The Showdown”: Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, A.J. Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle