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FANTASY: Concrete Heat

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have had a lot of success at Dover. Photo: Getty Images, 2009

FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks Fantasy Preview

While few readers will notice, I'm swapping the order of my two posts this week.  I'll start with the Fantasy NASCAR preview and complete the more feature-based column once we have the opportunity to spend Thursday with Sam Hornish Jr., as he tours a few local schools.

The "Monster Mile" of Dover International Speedway is similar in name to "The Magic Mile" here at NHMS.  Naturally, it races the same mile distance and, while the Dover oval is more circular with shorter straightaways and wider turns, it's general paperclip shape is the same as that seen here in Loudon.  The tracks are also situated in the northeast part of NASCAR's map.

However, the similarities end there and the racing tends to be far different.  The banking of Dover is noticeably higher than the flat track here.  We also pave our track with asphalt, where as the "Monster Mile" races on concrete.

The differences are clear when you compare a driver like Carl Edwards.  Nicknamed "Concrete Carl" for his strong performances on such tracks, Edwards will be the first to admit that he just hasn't figured out how to succeed at NHMS.

"The Magic Mile" is notoriously tough to pass because its flatter turns require drivers to focus more on controlling speeds than completing passes.  That's not to say that Dover is a breeze, but the high banking almost creates a smaller cookie-cutter setup.  The cars will race a little faster than NH and the timing to get on and off the gas isn't quite as important as it is at a true driver's track like "The Magic Mile."

All in all, because there's a little more speed to be had, the driver ability isn't as paramount as the quality of the car that rolls off the hauler.  Of course, that's all relative.  Whether it's in Dover, Del., or Loudon, N.H., a one-mile oval gets pretty tight with far less room to make a clean pass than larger tracks. History suggests that this weekend's winner will still be one of the series' best drivers that has mastered this type of a track.

Strategy: Despite what I might have just said in comparison to our "Magic Mile," any track this short requires a good driver to navigate it.  Statistically, there are drivers that repeatedly finish well at this track. This is a week to disregard allocations remaining: play the sure-bets and ignore the drivers that haven't offered much at the "Monster Mile."

A-List

Start

#17 Matt Kenseth - A driver rating of 110.0 is second best in the field and Kenseth has 17 top-10s in 26 starts.  He also has four DNFs, which means he's finished just fives races outside the top-10.  Barring bad luck, he's a likely bet to collect a top-10 this week.

#48 Jimmie Johnson - The No. 48 has won six times at this track in 20 starts!  His 118.6 driver rating at Dover tops the field and a 9.3 average finish is second best.

#99 Carl Edwards - As previously mentioned, he nickname is "Concrete Carl" because he does so well at these tracks.  A single Dover win in 15 starts might raise questions about the nickname, but a 7.3 average finish at the track nullifies those suspicions.

Park

#2 Brad Keselowski - He might have won at a small, high-banked, concrete track in Bristol earlier this season, but they aren't the same tracks at all.  He's never registered a top-10 at Dover and has an 18.3 average finish and 73.9 driver rating in four starts at the track.  There are better options.

B-List

Start

#16 Greg Biffle - The points leader is a great option just about anywhere these days, and this is usually a strong track for him.  With two wins at Dover and a 105.4 driver rating, he's the class of the B-List ... again.

#39 Ryan Newman - His 11.5 average finish at the "Monster Mile" is the best on the B-List.  He has three wins and like Matt Kenseth rarely finishes outside the top-10 (11 top-10s, four DNFs, 20 total starts).

#55 Mark Martin - The part-time driver continues to be a great value as he pieces together strong showings.  He has 23 top-fives and 31 top-10s in 51 Dover starts, so he remains a good choice.

#56 Martin Truex Jr. - This is the site of Truex's only career win.  Consider how much better he's been racing this season than he had been previously and another strong finish could be in the cards.

Park

#5 Kasey Kahne - He capped off a resurgent run with a win last week, but he's unlikely to make it back-to-back.  With just four top-10s in 16 Dover starts, this is not Kahne's best track by any means and his allocations are best used another week.

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior's starts are going to be at a premium this season.  He has just seven top-10s in 24 starts and should be avoided this week in the interest of allocation management.

C-List

Start

#13 Casey Mears - I'm giving Mears the nod over Bobby Labonte this week.  The No. 47 in normally the better option, but Mears has averaged about 2.5 more fantasy points at Dover than Labonte over the last 10 races.  This could be a week where he outperforms the former Cup champion.

#43 Aric Almirola - In the absence of a whole lot else, Almiorla is definitely the de facto go to this week.  That said, keep in mind this is a tricky track where he has no history.  As is the case every week, you'll need to ask yourself if you have the allocations to use one this week.

Park

#10 David Reutimann - If you look at Yahoo's stats for "This Track," Reutimann has averaged nearly 10 points more than the rest of the C-List over the last 10 races.  That's pretty meaningless, as he's not in a strong car this year and provides no more upside than the rest of the also-ran C-List.

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The picks in this blog are based around Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game and its standard scoring rules.  The preview is designed to provide suggestions, while still encouraging managers to make their own decisions.  Once sorted into Yahoo's A, B and C-Lists, they are organized based on car number and not directly associated with a rank value.

You can sign up and play for free, by visiting http://racing.fantasysports.yahoo.com.  If signed up, the "Fans of NHMS" group may be joined by clicking here.