1. Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson is a driver who you can confidently pick to win the Dover AAA 400. He’ll also be an extremely popular fantasy pick for this race. Line makers certainly like him because his odds to win are currently listed at a race best 7/2. Dover has been a special track for Johnson throughout his career. It belongs in the conversation with Martinsville as to which track is his best. He’s a seven time winner who’s finished in the top 5 nearly 50% of the time and he’s finished in the top ten 70% percent of the time. In the last ten Dover races he’s performed at an extremely high level. Over these races he’s led 1,905 laps, has a 3.3 average running position, a 5.7 average finish and the best driver rating by nearly +30 markers. Earlier this season at Dover Johnson started mid pack and remained there for the first quarter of the race. Then Chad Knaus finally had time to work his magic on the #48 car and it really came to life. It’s strength was in the corners and he could reel in the competition with relative ease. On lap #100 he was in 13th but by lap #206 he had driven up to the lead. In the race he led 143 laps and finished 17th. That result deserves an asterisk mark because late in the event he lost the lead on pit road and then he jumped the restart which got him black flagged. On Sunday in the Dover AAA 400 Johnson will be using the very chassis he used earlier this season. On Sunday Johnson will start in 8th. In practice he looked really strong. His ten lap averages between the two sessions on Saturday ranked 1st and 2nd. I also liked that he really focused on long runs. That will really benefit him when the green flag waves. His 15 lap average ranked as the quickest. I think the competition should be scared on Sunday. In Happy Hour he said his car was fun to drive.
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2. Matt Kenseth – Can Matt Kenseth go 3 for 3 in the opening races of the Chase? I certainly feel much more confident about his chances at Dover then I did at New Hampshire. The Monster Mile has been a great track for him. He’s a two-time winner and has finished in the top ten nearly 50% percent of the time. Earlier this year he had a great car and by my estimation I thought it was the car to beat (PROS Rankings), unfortunately his motor couldn’t go the distance. On lap #155 he was leading when his engine started to go south and on lap #157 it blew up. Last fall at Dover he had multiple issues in the race that hampered him. In spring 2012 he finished third and had a fourth place average running position. In the 9 race stretch between spring 2012 and spring 2008 Kenseth had one win and only finished outside the top five once. That’s the type of consistency everyone likes. Currently his odds to win are listed at 9/2. On Sunday Kenseth will start in 2nd. One benefit of his strong qualifying effort is his premium pit stall selection. In practice the 20 car was really fast. Between the two practice sessions his ten lap averages ranked 2nd and 3rd.
3. Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch will be a contender for the win in the Dover AAA 400 and he’s a driver who you should feel confident about making your fantasy pick. Dover has been a good track for him. This is a venue where his aggressive driving style benefits him. Right off the bat early in his career he had success and finished 2nd in his first two starts. Over his career he has two wins and has finished in the top five nearly 50% percent of the time. Recently Kyle Busch has been a phenomenal performer here. In the races since 2010 minus his 2012 spring engine failure (had top 5 potential) he has a 4.7 average finish, 4.7 average running position and has led 630 laps. Earlier this season at Dover Kyle Busch had a strong performance. He earned the best driver rating, led 150 laps, had a third place average running position and finished 4th. Last fall he had a dominant car but lost the race because of the fuel mileage nature the race took on at the end. In that race he led 302 laps, earned the best driver and finished 7th despite the fact he had to pit under green in the last ten laps. Kyle Busch’s odds to win at Dover are currently listed at 9/2. On Sunday Busch will start in 14th. In practice Busch didn’t seem overly pleased with his car. I wouldn’t be to concerned about this though. He’s an elite talent and his teammate Matt Kenseth was really good. His ten lap averages in the two practice sessions today ranked 9th and 12th.