With seven career wins at Dover and a series-leading 5.7 average finish in the last 10 starts at the track, Jimmie Johnson was the easy pick for the top spot in the driver rankings to open the week. After qualifying in the top 10 and turning even faster laps in practice Saturday, he is an even easier choice for the top spot in the final set of rankings. Johnson lost a sure win at Dover in June when he was black-flagged for jumping the final restart.
Junior: quality Dover performer
While Johnson holds steady at No. 1, Matt Kenseth moves up into the No. 2 spot on the strength of a third-place effort in qualifying and a strong showing in Saturday's practices. Of course, the fact that he has won the first two races of the Chase and has seven top-five finishes in his last 10 starts at Dover doesn't hurt his value either. Even if he doesn't notch a record-setting third straight win to open the Chase, Kenseth should still be an elite option for fantasy owners this weekend.
The lone newcomer to the top five heading into Sunday's race is Brad Keselowski. He is also the defending winner of this weekend's event, and he finished fifth at Dover earlier this year. After qualifying sixth and consistently cracking the top 10 in practice Saturday, Keselowski seems more than capable of extending his streak of top-five finishes at Dover this weekend.
Outside the top five, Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be the driver to watch. After snagging the pole for Sunday's AAA 400, Junior vaults into the top 10 of the final driver rankings. He has never been dominant at Dover, but he is a former winner at the track. More importantly, Junior has finished 11th or better in three straight starts at Dover, including a top-10 run earlier this year. At the very least, he should be able to net fantasy owners another top-10 this weekend.
Looking outside the top 10, fantasy owners won't find a driver with more upside than Kurt Busch. He qualified a solid ninth for Sunday's race, and he was even better in practice Saturday. Granted, he hasn't been the most consistent performer at Dover, but he does have four top-five finishes in the last 10 races, including a win in the fall of 2011. During the same stretch, Busch has six top-15s at Dover, including a 12th-place run earlier this year. He offers top-five potential for those owners willing to sacrifice a bit of reliability.
In terms of sleepers, Juan Pablo Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger appear to be the top options. They qualified 13th and 17th, respectively, and both were solid in the practice sessions Saturday. With six finishes of 16th or better in his last eight starts at Dover, Allmendinger is definitely the safer pick. However, Montoya finished a career-best second at Dover earlier this year and was three laps away from going to Victory Lane. Needless to say, he has some upside.
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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