At many tracks, a strong qualifying is crucial because of the track position that comes along with it. At Dover, a strong qualifying effort is important because of the track's treacherous pit road. With concrete walls on both sides of pit lane, drivers have no room to avoid the hazards that arise in the pits, and cars can be torn up during pit stops just as easily as on the track. Teams get to select their pit stalls in the order in which they qualify, and on one of the shortest and narrowest pit roads in the series, there are only a handful of decent stalls.
Not surprisingly, seven of the last eight Dover winners have started inside the top eight, including six from inside the top five. The trend has been even more dramatic in recent years, as three of the last five winners have started on the front row. The stat is great news for pole-sitter Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson, who will start outside of his former teammate. With six wins at Dover, Johnson was already one of the favorites this weekend. Martin has forced his way into the conversation as well, and after finishing second at the "Monster Mile" last spring, the veteran is looking like a potential top-five pick this weekend.
Other big names starting in the top 10 include Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, along with Kyle Busch. Kenseth is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has finished in the top five in seven of his last eight starts at Dover. His teammate Biffle is a two-time winner at the track, and the point leader has just one finish outside the top 15 all year. Busch is also two-time winner at Dover, and he has four straight finishes of sixth or better at the track.
Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper pick this weekend should consider Aric Almirola. His 12th-place effort in qualifying continued a strong weekend for the Richard Petty Motorsports driver. Almirola has been solid the last month, notching three straight top-20 finishes, including a 16th-place run in last weekend's Coca-Cola 600. His RPM teammate Marcos Ambrose picked up a pair of top-10s at Dover last season, and Almirola could be headed for a similar run Sunday.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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