Fantasy NASCAR preview: AAA 400

by C.J. Radune on September 23, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT


Dover International Speedway is a unique track, perhaps most similar to Darlington Raceway, due to the relatively short length and high banking. Like Darlington, the track owns an ominous nickname, "The Monster Mile." In 1995, the surface of the track was upgraded and Dover became NASCAR's first concrete-paved superspeedway. The car setup focuses on the long, sweeping turns, as drivers do not want their car too loose entering the turns. A pass will often take over half the track to complete. The unique track surface and configuration, combined with the high-banking, leaves drivers little room for error. One-car spins often result in multi-car pileups.

Jimmie Johnson won the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover earlier this season. It came down to the end with Tony Stewart continuing to pressure Johnson until the finish. In the end, though, Johnson had the best car all day and finished on top.

Location: Dover, Del.
Shape: Oval
Length: 1.00 miles
Laps: 400
Turns 1-2: 24 degrees
Turns 3-4: 24 degrees
Front stretch: 9 degrees
Back stretch: 9 degrees

Drivers to keep an eye on

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Biffle scored his third top-10 in four races in the Sylvania 300, quite a run toward the end of the season. At Dover International Speedway, Biffle is the man. With a string of strong results heading to the AAA 400, Biffle looks set to continue his stellar record at the track and notch what could be his sixth straight top-five and eighth top-10 result at the one-mile oval. Biffle's average finish in his last five Dover starts is 3.0. His record at the track is undeniable, and he should definitely be a high consideration for anyone's fantasy roster this weekend.

Matt Kenseth | No. 17 DeWalt Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Matt Kenseth
Kenseth could bounce back at Dover

Kenseth comes to Dover on the back of two disappointing finishes and missing the Chase. Dover has been a place where Kenseth can hang his hat in the past, though. He finished fourth there in the Autism Speaks 400 and his average finish in the last five Dover races is 10.0. That average includes four top-five results. In fact, going back to September 2002, Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in every race at the track if you don't include the races he has wrecked in or dropped out of because of engine problems.

Kyle Busch | No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Busch was bitterly disappointed not to make the Chase for the Championship. He is putting that disappointment into positive efforts through the last 10 races of the season, though. He finished fifth in a strong run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last week, his second top-five in a row, and is hoping to turn around his recent results at Dover as well. He finished 23rd there earlier this season after starting sixth. His average finish from his last five starts at the track is just 17.8, but he did win the 2008 Best Buy 400. Also, he has five top-five finishes in his last nine races there, though two of those races he had to drop out because of engine troubles.

Clint Bowyer | No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Bowyer scored his 12th top-10 finish of the season last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He also has a decent history at Dover International Speedway. His career average finish at the track is 14.3 in seven starts. Three of those seven starts produced top-10 finishes, too. Richard Childress Racing has struggled in 2009, and that is no secret, but Bowyer has been the bright spot on the team. He scored back-to-back top-10 finishes in the last two races and there is no reason to think that he couldn't do the same again in the AAA 400.

Jeff Burton | No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Burton has not had too much to smile about in 2009 so far. He also hasn't recorded a top-10 finish since June. Needless to say, he and the team are quite disappointed. Dover presents an opportunity to close out the season in style, though. Burton's record at the track is quite good with his average finish in the last five races there standing at 10.4. Burton hasn't been lagging so far behind the pack that his abilities at Dover wouldn't be able to pull him up the standings a bit. Fantasy owners should take heart in his record at the track and perhaps look to him as a starting driver this weekend.

Temper your expectations

Tony Stewart | No. 14 Burger King Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing

Tony Stewart
Be wary of Stewart this week

Stewart was running strongly in the Sylvania 300, as he often does at most tracks, until he hit trouble later in the race. His strong run didn't turn out to be a finish he would be proud of as a result. He finished 14th after starting second and challenging for the lead early before the problems set in. Stewart also doesn't have the best Dover record. His average finish in his last five starts there is 20.6. While there are two top-10 results in that average, there are also some very poor finishes. Stewart's consistency does not show in his past Dover results, and fantasy owners should take caution as a result.

Denny Hamlin | No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Hamlin has been one of the hottest drivers on the circuit lately. He hasn't finished outside of the top 10 since July. He has also won two of the last seven races. Hamlin is on a roll but don't expect the same dominance in Dover. Hamlin has a tendency to find trouble at the one-mile oval and has recorded two DNFs from seven starts in his career there so far. His average finish from his last five Dover starts is 31.8. He did notch a top-five in that span, but his other results are just that bad. Fantasy owners, while not counting him out, may not want to get too high on the Hamlin bandwagon this weekend.

Kasey Kahne | No. 9 Budweiser Dodge | Richard Petty Motorsports

Kahne's engine let go spectacularly in the Sylvania 300. It was not a good way to start his Chase campaign. Kahne also doesn't have the best resume at Dover. His average finish in the last five tries there is 21.2. He has only scored two top-10s at the track in his 11 career starts. Simply put, Kahne is not the strongest finisher at Dover International Speedway. Fantasy owners should be aware that he will be driving to finish well to boost his Chase hopes, but past statistics don't point to a bright weekend for Kahne. As a result, fantasy owners should only choose Kahne with caution.

Brian Vickers | No. 83 Red Bull Toyota | Red Bull Racing

Vickers is closing the season strongly. He scored three top-10 results in the last five races, including a win in the Carfax 400. At Dover, Vickers has struggled, though. His average finish in the last five starts there is only 20.8. In 11 career Dover starts he has only managed to get one top-10 result in the bag. His career average finish in that time is 21.6. While Vickers may be a consistent finisher lately, and even a Chase contender, Dover may be his bogey track. He is not stellar here and fantasy owners will want to keep that in mind as they set their lineup for the AAA 400.

Kevin Harvick | No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Harvick has He and the team endured a very rough season this year and they are still working to find consistency. His average Dover finish is 20.2 in the last five tries. That average result, in addition to the fact that he scored just one top-10 Dover finish in that time, makes Harvick too inconsistent to be a viable fantasy option this weekend. There are other available drivers that have a better likelihood of scoring a strong fantasy started to find some success as the season winds down. result for your roster this weekend.

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About C.J. Radune

Radune has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.

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