NASCAR Dover Preview – Harvick Favored while Kahne Still Sidelined
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The wild race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is in the books for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Now it’s time to move onto the Gander Outdoors 400 and Round Two of the Championship Playoffs. And, as you can probably guess – Kevin Harvick, one of the “Big Three” drivers, is considered the favorite according to oddsmakers.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Ford for Stewart – Haas Racing, is probably a great pick as he’s the defending race winner. Harvick, at +285 at the top of the pre-race leaderboard, won the spring race at Dover and he has one other recent win at the track which came in 2015. He also has two poles at the facility as well in the Cup Series. The way he’s been driving in 2018 makes him an easy pick for taking the checkered flag this Sunday.
The favorites leaderboard has not changed much since last week when it comes to the top-five favored drivers. Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, trails slightly behind Harvick with a +350. That number probably takes into consideration that Busch won at Dover prior to Harvick. Busch won this same race last season. However, the +350 may be a bit dubious when it comes to Dover and Kyle Busch.
Over his career in the Cup Series, Busch has three Dover wins. But, aside from the fall race in 2017, the other two wins were a long time ago. One came in 2010 and the other in 2008. That’s a decade ago! Over that time, he’s only had a handful of top-five finishes. But, his performance in 2018 has pushed him up the favorites list this weekend at a track he’s not had his normal level of success at.
Cup Series Drivers Odds heading into Dover.
Martin Truex Jr
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
The remaining top-five favored drivers are Martin Truex Jr at +400. Truex posted his win at Dover back in 2016 but has had some strong runs there as well as his share of bad luck. Kyle Larson, at +750, and Brad Keselowski, at +1000, round out the top-five. Keselowski has one win at Dover. That came way back in 2012. Larson has never won a Cup Series race at the track. It seems like both drivers – and others - are being judged by oddsmakers on their 2018 performance overall and not their past history at the track.
Last 15 Dover Race Winners
Is Jimmie Johnson this weekend’s most obvious dark horse pick? Here are the last fifteen drivers to win at Dover for those who factor in defending race winners in your trends. The list is packed with drivers currently battling for the Cup Series Championship that are still eligible in the Playoffs. Harvick, the oddsmakers favorite is the past winner as he won during the spring visit to the track. He’s followed by the other two members of the big three which are Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
Yep, there is a glaring omission from my above listing of the “big three” drivers. Jimmie Johnson won the spring race at Dover in 2017 – but he’s been eliminated from the playoffs following his wreck last week at the Charlotte ROVAL. Talk about horrible timing during the Championship run. If Johnson could have survived the cut after last weeks final race of round one, he would now be visiting a track where he’s won eleven races over the course of his Cup Series career.
2011: Matt Kenseth 2011: Kurt Busch 2012: Jimmie Johnson 2012: Brad Keselowski 2013: Tony Stewart 2013: Jimmie Johnson 2014: Jimmie Johnson 2014: Jeff Gordon 2015: Jimmie Johnson 2015: Kevin Harvick 2016: Matt Kenseth 2016: Martin Truex Jr. 2017: Jimmie Johnson 2017: Kyle Busch 2018: Kevin Harvick
The Playoff drivers that are still eligible for making a run at the Championship with wins over the last fifteen races at Dover are Kevin Harvick, Kyle, and Kurt Busch, Martin Trues Jr and Brad Keselowski. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have retired, and Matt Kenseth is running a part-time schedule in 2018.
NASCAR Weekend Viewing Guide:
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this weekend. Both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are at Dover.
Friday, October 5
• 11-11:50 a.m.: Cup Series practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 12:05-12:55 p.m.: Xfinity Series practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 2:30-3:20 p.m.: Xfinity Series practice, NBC Sports App • 3:40 p.m.: Cup Series Qualifying, NBC Sports App (tape delayed on NBCSN) • 4:30 p.m.: Post-Cup Series qualifying
Saturday, October 6
• 11-11:50 a.m.: Cup Series practice, CNBC/NBC Sports App. • 12:05 p.m.: Xfinity Qualifying, NBCSN comes on 12:30 p.m. ET/NBC Sports App noon • 1:30-2:20 p.m.: Cup Series practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • RACE- 3 p.m.: Xfinity Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International (200 laps, 200 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App.
Sunday, October 7
• RACE - 2 p.m.: Cup Series Gander Outdoors 400 (400 laps, 400 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App.