By Cole Cusumano
Each week, Cole Cusumano will provide statistical and observational insight for the upcoming race in hopes you can redeem it for “Cole’s Cash” once the checkered flag waves.
The NASCAR Cup Series is entering the belly of the beast. After back-to-back weeks of navigating the uncertainty of a dirt-covered Thunder Valley and the marathon drag race of Talladega Superspeedway, the sport’s best will attempt to slay Miles the Monster at Dover Motor Speedway.
Although this will be a much more calculated weekend for bettors, drivers will be tested in transitioning to the abrasive, concrete-surfaced one-mile oval in their first trip with the Next Gen car. At any rate, we can definitely take some stock into prior statistics from the Monster Mile.
Pre-Practice & Qualifying Odds/DFS Value per DraftKings Sportsbook:
Kyle Larson +450 ($11,800)
William Byron +900 ($11,000)
Chase Elliott +900 ($11,300)
Alex Bowman +1000 ($10,100)
Joey Logano +1200 ($10,600)
Last year, Hendrick Motorsports had a historical heyday at Dover, claiming the top-four spots and accounting for all but 18 laps led (95.5%). DraftKings clearly has loads of confidence in the Chevrolet stable, as all four are within the $10,000 dollar price range. Seeing as multiple can’t be used for DFS, which can you feel most comfortable inserting into your lineups?
By all accounts it would have to be Chase Elliott. Still winless in 2022, the former champion has maintained the points lead for six-straight weeks, scoring a series-high seven top-10s through 10 races and owning the best average finish (10.5).
A breakout is inevitable for Elliott and it could very well happen at Dover. He won at the Monster Mile in 2018 while racking up eight top-fives in 11 starts for a 10.5 career-average along the way. The one-mile oval typically rewards resilience and the No. 9 team has ranked among the best in that regard this season.
With the exception of an early win at Fontana, Kyle Larson began the year with a bit of a championship hangover, but seems to have found his groove as the Cup Series enters the thick of the season. He’s riding back-to-back fourth-place finishes and has moved up to seventh in the standings, while also matching his laps led through eight races in the last two events (59).
Larson had as great of a start as you can have at Dover last year, leading the most laps and sweeping both stages only to place runner-up. In his last three starts at the one-mile track he has a trio of top-threes with a win wedged in there. Through 13 attempts, the reigning champ has 10 top-10s, 880 laps led and a seventh-place average.
As for the remaining two HMS products, take your pick. William Byron is 1-of-2 repeat winners this season and riding back-to-back fourth-place finishes at Dover. Alex Bowman enters as the defending victor with two-straight top-fives at the Monster Mile. The driver of the No. 48 has top-10s in five of his last six races this year and has the second-best average overall at 11.2.
Outside of Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch would be most likely to play spoiler. He’s riding a four-race top-10 streak this season with a win at Bristol Motor Speedway and has an excellent history at Dover.
The younger Busch brother is tied for the most wins (three), has a 60.6% top-10 rate (20) with 1,213 laps led. However, his best finish over his last two starts was 11th and he hasn’t led more than 30 laps in a single race going back to 2017.
DFS Price/Odds: Ky. Busch $9,100 (+1400)
Taming The Beast
Kevin Harvick has consistently been a monster slayer. He’s strung together seven-straight races of placing sixth or better with two wins and a 3.7 average in that time. His 22 top-10s, 1,666 laps led and three wins are the best among active drivers.
Dover may be just what the doctor ordered for Daniel Suarez, after he saw his teammate find victory for the second time this season. The driver of the No. 99 has always been outspoken in his love of the concrete track, and it’s easy to see why with five top-10s in nine starts. He has a 13.2 average with 99.7% of laps completed at the Delaware-based venue and placed ninth there in his Trackhouse Racing debut last year.
DFS Price/Odds: Harvick $9,300 (+1200), Suarez $7,900 (+4000)
Let’s be honest, since his rookie season Cole Custer hasn’t had an ideal start to his young Cup career. However, the one constant throughout his years in NASCAR has been Dover. The driver of the No. 41 is riding back-to-back top-10s at the Monster Mile and placed 11th in his only other start.
Still in search of a top-10 this season, Custer is nearing must-win territory sitting 26th in the standings. He’s looked much sportier in recent weeks and Dover could be his best shot at stealing a long-shot victory, or at least a quality finish. Consider the Stewart-Haas Racing driver a lock for all DFS lineups.
Austin Dillon may not have the greatest resume at Dover, but he’s been defying all preconceived statistical notions this season and is one of the hotter drivers in the sport right now. Through 10 races, he has three top-fives (two in his last three starts) and is one away from tying his single-season record.
In his last five starts Dillon has four top-10s with an 11.2 average in this time. As for Dover, he seems to have found something as of late, riding a three-race top-15 streak with a ninth-place finish and 49 laps led there in 2020.
DFS Price/Odds: A. Dillon $7,600 (+5000), Custer $6,100 (+10000)
Kurt Busch may be the most experienced active driver at Dover with 42 starts, but he’s had a miserable career at the one-mile track with a 28.6% top-10 rate, eight DNFs and a 17.9 average. Going back to 2012, he has 11 laps led there and failed to finish on the lead-lap in 13 races (across 19 starts).
It’s been a terrific season for Ryan Blaney, but don’t expect him to score his first win of 2022 at Dover. He has two top-10s in 11 starts – the last coming in 2018 – and an 18.9 average.
Denny Hamlin has done nothing this season to instill trust as a DFS driver or race winner bet, even with the victory at Richmond Raceway. He’s now placed outside of the top-10 in 9-of-10 races, eight of those sub-15th. His 2022 campaign has been so abysmal, that his 18th-place finish at Talladega bumped up his average to 22.6.
This season aside, it would still be wise to stray away from Hamlin at Dover. Although he won there in 2020, he has a 16.3 average and 14 top-10s in 31 starts.
DFS Price/Odds: Hamlin $9,500 (+1200), Blaney $10,300 (+1200), Ku. Busch $7,500 (+5000)
Big Money Prop Bets
Chase Elliott to place top-three +250
Daniel Suarez to place top-10 +100
Race Winner (Smaller Bet) / DFS Inclusion Combo
Kyle Busch +1400 ($9,100)
Daniel Suarez +4000 ($7,900)
For more in-depth an audial DFS analysis, check out The Money Stop on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Anchor.
Categories: Cole's Corner, Commentary, NASCAR Cup Series
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