Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch is the most recent winner at Dover and on Sunday he’ll be a favorite. In his career at the “Monster Mile” he’s a 3-time winner who’s finished in the top five 46% percent of the time and in the top ten 62% percent of the time. In recent Dover races he’s performed at a super-elite level. Over the last five races he has three top 2 finishes and has been a top ten good every race. Last fall he had a great car and raced his way to victory lane after passing Chase Elliott with two laps to go. In addition to winning he earned the 4th best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led 30 laps. Additionally he finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 4th in Stage #2. Last spring he had a great car but finished a misleading 16th. In the race he started on the pole and led the opening 19 laps until the first round of pit stops. During his stop his team didn’t secure a wheel and it fell off. That did some damage to his car and cost him all of his track position. He rebounded from that and later ran in the top five. He had more problems in the race though. A caution during a bad time during the pit cycle dropped him from 5th to 15th and then later with 37 laps to go he had a vibration and pitted under green. In fall 2016 he was very competitive. When the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, had a 2nd place average running position, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 102 laps. In spring 2016 he was probably around 10th place good performance wise but finished 30th because he was caught up in the “Big One.” In fall 2015 he had a great car and finished runner-up.
Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick will be one of the drivers to beat at Dover. Last fall he had a great car and was a top five contender but finished an asterisk mark 17th. On lap 229 while he was running around 6th he made an unexpected pit stop for a loose wheel that dropped him two laps down. That doomed his afternoon in a race that lacked cautions. Last spring Harvick had a strong car but finished a misleading 9th. “Performance wise” I thought he was top five good but a caution during the pit cycle with 71 laps to go dropped him from about 4th to 16th. Additionally from the race it should be noted Harvick finished 3rd in Stage #1, 6th in Stage #2 and earned the 5th best driver rating. In fall 2016 he really didn’t get a chance to show his hand. On lap 34 while he was running in the top five his track bar mount broke and he immediately took his car to the garage. In spring 2016 he had a great car that ranked as the best. If his team didn’t struggle on pit road which put him in bad situations I don’t think anyone was going to beat him. In the race he led the most laps (117), earned the 3rd best driver rating but finished 15th. In fall 2015 nobody was better than Harvick and he put on a display of domination. He started in 15th but drove his way up to the lead quickly. When the checkered flag waved he finished 1st, earned a near perfect driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 355 laps.
Chase Elliott – Chase Elliott will be a factor at Dover. It’s a great track for him that ranks as arguably his best. In his career at Dover he has a 3.3 average finish and is a perfect 4 for 4 in terms of finishing in the top five. Last fall he had a great car and nearly raced his way to victory lane but Kyle Busch passed him in the closing laps which led to his 2nd place finish. Additionally he earned the best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led a race high 138 laps. He also finished 7th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. Last spring Elliott had a strong showing. He finished 5th and earned the 7th best driver rating. Performance wise I think he might’ve actually been a little better than his result because he was burned by a caution during the pit cycle with 71 laps to go that dropped him from about 3rd to 14th. In fall 2016 he had a very strong showing. He finished 3rd, had a 7th place average running position and earned the 7th best driver rating. In spring 2016 he finished 3rd and earned the 9th best driver rating. On Sunday I would look for him to finish in the top ten and compete for a top five.