Welcome to my FREE NASCAR DFS breakdown of this weekend’s Cup Series race at the iconic Monster Mile! Today’s race is set to begin with the green flag waving at 1:07 PM EST. NASCAR has proactively moved the start time up in an effort to outpace the incoming rain. However, this strategy might prove futile as the weather forecast is discouraging, with a 75% chance of rain persisting throughout the day. It is entirely possible that we won’t see any racing action until Monday, so if you’re someone who gets frustrated by postponements, you might want to consider sitting this one out.
This race at Dover promises to be an intriguing affair, and this track’s characteristics haven’t been matched by any venue so far this season. After spending the last seven races navigating a mix of super speedways, short flats, and a road course, it will be interesting to see how teams adapt to what could be a challenging afternoon at Dover. Although teams were able to hit the track for practice yesterday, it’s questionable as to how much insight we can gain from that limited data. To further complicate matters, qualifying was rained out, leaving us with a starting grid determined by NASCAR’s metric system. With so much to analyze and discuss, let’s dive right into the breakdown!
The Monster Mile is a one-of-a-kind track on the 2023 NASCAR schedule. The closest comparison on the schedule is Bristol Motor Speedway, but NASCAR altered that venue this year by once again covering it with dirt. If you’re looking for a somewhat comparable track from the current season, squinting your eyes might lead you to consider Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a distant cousin. The practice session at Dover was far from ideal, with tires cording after just 10 to 15 laps, drivers spinning out, and a rain mist during group B. Drivers have expressed concerns about the limited amount of rubber being laid down, and the track will inevitably be green again following Sunday’s rain. To account for the anticipated heavy tire wear, NASCAR has already granted the drivers two additional sets of tires for the 400-mile race. With so many uncertainties looming, my strategy will focus on drivers who have consistently demonstrated an ability to excel at Dover throughout their careers, and shut out all the extra noise.
Dominator points will play a crucial role this week, with 400 laps scheduled for the race at Dover Motor Speedway. Over the last six Dover races, 20 drivers have scored more than 20 Dominator points. Impressively, all but two of these drivers made it into the top six in DraftKings scoring, averaging three per race. Of these strong performances, 11 came from drivers starting within the top five, while 15 started in the top 10. The polesitter and outside polesitter each achieved this feat three times.
However, it’s important to consider the unique circumstances surrounding this race, particularly the lack of qualifying and the aftermath of a chaotic Talladega event. This has resulted in a jumbled starting field, and it’s likely that we’ll see less dominator upside within the top 10 today, as heavy hitters will be charging from further back. With a competition caution scheduled and the anticipated tire wear issues, I expect the starting order to shuffle rapidly once the race begins.
In the last 6 races at Dover, two drivers have scored over 100 Dominator points, while an additional six drivers scored over 50. These outstanding performances, which all resulted in over 94 DraftKings points, demonstrate the importance of focusing on Dominator points today. Allocate the majority of your salary towards potential dominators, aiming for lineups featuring 2-3 such drivers.
Position differential is also a significant factor at Dover, although not to the same extent as Dominator points. In the last six Dover races, surprisingly NO driver has scored more than 20 Position Differential points. The key range for Position Differential points scored tends to be within the 10-20 range. In the last 6 Dover races, 28 drivers have achieved such scores, with 16 of them making it into the top six in DraftKings scoring. Furthermore, three drivers in the sample managed to combine both 20+ Dominator points and 10-20 Position Differential points, realizing massive upside.
When determining which drivers to target for dominator points today, recent Dover races offer valuable guidance. Out of the 20 DraftKings performances with more than 20 dominator points mentioned earlier, a staggering 16 came from either Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) or Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) drivers.
Given their performance in the 2023 season, it’s difficult to overlook HMS as a dominant force. Thus far, HMS drivers have outperformed JGR in all aspects, leading an impressive 40% of all laps this year. As a result, I will be putting the majority of my eggs in the HMS basket today.
While several Ford drivers are starting within the top 10, it’s worth noting that they have only managed to score more than 20 Dominator points twice in the last six Dover races. Though it may be tempting to consider them for dominator potential, the data suggests that focusing on HMS and JGR drivers will likely yield better results.
All Performances of 20+ Dominator Points Last 6 Dover Races
Here is my Cheat Sheet for today’s race at Dover Motor Speedway. This compilation includes data from the past six Dover races, as well as driver performance statistics from the 2023 season up to this point. Although I have incorporated practice times, bear in mind that these should be taken with a grain of salt. Drivers highlighted in blue are those I believe possess strong dominator potential today. Meanwhile, drivers in green are appealing position differential plays, and those highlighted in pink may be low-owned options, making them perfect candidates for GPP contests.
As I mentioned earlier, I am firmly aboard the HMS train, so it comes as no surprise that my top picks include Larson, Byron, and Chase Elliott. Notably, all three drivers ranked in the top four during practice speeds. Larson has been the standout performer in 2023 and is particularly strong at Dover. However, his success is no secret, so expect high ownership.
Likely to be the least owned among the HMS trio is Byron. He has been in excellent form this season, consistently displaying impressive speed. It’s crucial to have some shares of Byron, as he has the potential to rise to the front.
As last year’s winner of this race, Chase Elliott is the only HMS driver still in pursuit of a win. It’s almost certain that HMS has brought him a rocket making him another strong contender today. Elliott boasts four instances of 20+ Dominator points and four top-five finishes in the last six races at Dover. In terms of Fast Lap % and Laps Led %, he ranks second only to his teammate, Kyle Larson.
Denny Hamlin is the only JGR driver I am looking to pay up for today. Hamlin had what looked to be the best car in this race last year before having multiple issues ruin his day. This team has found more and more speed each week and he now has the highest Fast Lap % in the JGR stable for 2023.
You got to make decisions and for me it’s leaving out Bell and Truex. Could live to regret it, but Bell has not had a very good track record here at Dover to this point in his Cup career. Truex has been a beats here and had a fast car here last year, but something just seems off about this team this season, haven’t seen him yet with real contender speed, even at some tracks we would of otherwise thought he would be a contender.
At Dover, clean air plays a significant role, and we witnessed in the previous year that the leader was able to pull ahead and accumulate points. This week, the driver starting with that clean air advantage is none other than last week’s winner, Kyle Busch. He capitalized on clean air in last year’s race, leading over 100 laps. Busch has the potential to rack up points early on, as there seems to be limited competition from drivers starting near the front, with the exception of Christopher Bell.
Harvick may offer some under-the-radar dominator potential today, possibly at a lower ownership level. Many DFS players are likely to be drawn to Logano, Kyle Busch, and Truex in this price range, potentially overlooking Harvick. However, Dover has been a successful track for Harvick recently, as he’s achieved eight consecutive top-10 finishes, including two wins and seven top-six results! Moreover, he holds the fourth-best Fast Lap percentage in the last six races at this track. Harvick’s No. 4 car has displayed significantly improved speed in 2023 compared to 2022, boasting the third-best Fast Lap percentage through the first ten races of the season.
Logano, Wallace, and Berry are likely to be popular Position Differential picks today. Logano’s pricing is quite attractive considering his starting position. Wallace has demonstrated potential at Dover, but his numerous mistakes this season make him a less appealing choice in tournaments with the ownership he will see. Berry is an excellent option today and could be the least owned among the three. The No. 48 car consistently performs well at Dover, and this track is one of Berry’s strongest in the Xfinity Series.
Even though I don’t think JGR will have the speed to compete with HMS for Dom points today, I do think they will have enough speed for Ty Gibbs to have a great day at potentially low ownership. He is a great pivot off the other chalky PD options.
Preece and McDowell are both viable options for tournaments today given their potential upside and their potnetial downside. While McDowell has historically struggled at Dover, he had a strong showing last year during a career season. This year has been even better for McDowell, so there’s a good chance he’ll deliver another solid performance today. Preece has achieved two top-20 finishes in six races at Dover, with both of these results coming in lesser equipment than he has now. Perhaps even more impressive, he managed a 25th-place finish here last year driving a Rick Ware car.
Gilliland is another play that will likely be popular today with him starting 35th. Gilliland is on a spectacular run with 5 Top 15 finishes in the last 6 races. There is obviously risk here though with him starting so far back and the lack of speed he showed in practice. Just a matter on if you want to ride the hot hand or if you think he comes back to earth today and fails to make a move forward through the field.
Couple guys who could be lower owned with the everyone likely gravitating to Gilliland is the Kaulig duo of Dinger and Haley. Kaulig brought 2 great cars to this race last year. Haley even led the race for a bit before ending up with an 11th place finish, and he will likely be the lowest owned of the guys I’m mentioning in this range.
If your really looking to save some salary then you can look to Corey Lajoie today. I know practice was messy, but Lajoie did end up with the 13th fastest lap and the fastest 5 lap average. Now I don’t think he has that kind of upside, but it’s definitely an indication that he could finish Top 20 again, like he did in this race last year.