On Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series will run the AAA 400 from Dover International Speedway. This will be the 13th race of the 2017 season which means that after Dover there will only 13 races until the start of the playoffs.
Heading into the race weekend at Dover there are several drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series that have a chance of finding themselves in victory lane once the checkered flag waves. That being said, the five drivers below have the best chance of leaving Dover with another win (or possibly their first win of the season) under their belts.
So, Kyle Busch has a habit of doing this thing. It’s the thing where he makes headlines for doing something negative and then the next time that he hits the track, he wins something. Last weekend Busch capped off Charlotte by making headlines for all of the wrong reasons. This weekend he took the pole for Sunday’s race in Dover and when the green flag drops he will be one of the favorites to win the race. In 24 starts at Dover, Busch has two wins and 15 top-10 finishes. Although Busch has yet to win in 2017, he is close as his consistent top-five performances over the past few weeks have shown. Dover could be the place where he gets it done, and if it’s not, hopefully he handles it better than he handled Charlotte.
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. is the real deal. Over the last three seasons he has gone from a nice comeback story to a bona fide contender to win a championship. Last weekend Truex was the class of the field and was a caution away during the final run of the race from most likely winning. This weekend at Dover Truex will be looking for his third win of the season. In 22 starts at Dover Truex has a pair of wins. Truex is one of only five drivers (currently active) to win more than once at Dover. Aside from his wins, he also has 11 top-10 finishes in his 22 starts at the track.
Last weekend in Charlotte Austin Dillon got his first win in the Cup Series while Chase Elliott go taken out early in the race. This weekend at Dover, Elliott will be looking to score his first Cup Series victory. Elliott comes into the weekend inside of the top-10 in the point standings. While consistent finishes for the No. 24 team are great, it’s wins that will elevate the team to the next level and put them in position to contend for a title this season. Elliott has only run two races at Dover in his Cup Series career, but his small sample size has been overwhelmingly positive. In those two starts he has a pair of top-five finishes and an average finishing position of 3rd, which is the best of all of the drivers in the race on Sunday. If Elliott maintains his Dover success from his previous two starts, he should be in the mix at the end.
The biggest favorite this weekend will be Jimmie Johnson. Last weekend I talked about Johnson’s dominance at Charlotte in his career, well his record at Dover is even better. Johnson has won at Dover 10 times in only 30 starts, yes that means 1/3 of the races he has run at Dover have resulted in a trip to victory lane. Those 30 starts have also produced 21 top-10 finishes. So, 1/3 of the time he wins and 2/3 of the time he finishes inside of the top-10. Now that we know the numbers, you go ahead and tell me why Johnson shouldn’t be the biggest favorite this weekend. It’s also worth noting that Johnson has led 3,093 laps at Dover, the most among all active drivers.
Like we do every week, we round out the list with a driver that is somewhat of an underdog. This week that driver just so happens to be Matt Kenseth. Kenseth has a two wins at Dover in in 36 starts. Kenseth’s 36 starts have also produced 24 top-10’s. Last weekend in Charlotte, Kenseth and the No. 20 team proved that they can indeed run up front and be near the leaders come the end of a race. On Sunday Kenseth will look to win his first race of the 2017 season. Should Kenseth win on Sunday and punch his ticket to the playoffs, it would mark the first time this season that a JGR car went to victory lane. Kenseth might not be on the radar of a lot of NASCAR fans this weekend, but said fans would be remiss to dismiss Kenseth as being a potential contender.
Be sure to tune into the AAA 400 Sunday afternoon on the FOX Networks. If you aren’t sure where, when or how to watch the AAA 400, you can always check out this AAA 400Live Streaming Guide.