We knew entering this weekend at the Dover International Speedway that Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race could be Chevrolet dominated. The two practice sessions on Friday confirmed that.
Hendrick Motorsports went 2-3-5-13 in the first practice on single lap speed and 5-11-14-15 in final practice. On 10 lap averages though, they were 2-4-12 and 2-3-5-17 respectively.
They have good short run speed as well as good long run. Plus, if you look at what they did this past May (2-5-8-12) and you get the likely favorite.
HMS went 1-2 last weekend at Charlotte as well. They’ll be led by Chase Elliott who was fifth in final practice and finished there in the race this past spring. He led 145 laps that day. Elliott, won the race last weekend and is the defending race winner in this very playoff race on the high banked concrete oval. Also, Elliott has a top five finish in all but one Cup Series start at Dover to go along with six top 10’s over his last eight starts on the season.
Alex Bowman finished second last weekend and was runner-up in the spring race too. He was fourth and third respectively on the long run speed chart in his No. 88 Chevrolet.
William Byron was second in the first practice and fifth in final practice on 10 lap averages. He has three top seven finishes in his No. 24 Chevrolet in his last four starts on the season.
The last driver is Jimmie Johnson. He’s an 11 time winner at Dover and was second in both sessions on 10 lap averages. He was also third and 11th respectively on single lap speeds. Johnson’s worst finish in the playoffs despite not even being playoff eligible is 11th.
This may be the organization to beat.
But, throw in JGR and Stewart-Haas and you get eight straight wins in the spring race and six straight wins in the fall race. They’ve won eight of the last 10 fall races at Dover overall and the last 10 races on the season in general.
JGR though didn’t necessarily look good on Friday. Erik Jones was 16th and 12th respectively on single lap runs and ninth and 14th on the 10 lap. Kyle Busch was 15th and 17th on single lap and just 13th in final practice on the 10 lap.
Their best shots are with Denny Hamlin who has a better long run car (6th, 9th) than short run (7th, 19th) and Martin Truex Jr. who was 12th and second on single lap runs and sixth on the 10 lap.
Truex, won the spring race and two of the three races in the first round. He also has five top four finishes in his last six Dover tries.
In terms of Penske, they have one spring race win at Dover since 1995 and just two since 2005 in the fall. All the wins were with Dodge.
Ryan Blaney has never finished better than eighth (twice) in seven Dover starts. He was third and 10th respectively on 10 lap averages and only fourth and 13th on single lap runs. Joey Logano was quickest in the opening session but 23rd in final practice. He was 17th and eighth on the 10 lap averages and has just two top fives at the Monster Mile since 2014. Brad Keselowski was 19th and fourth on single lap runs but 14th and 18th on 10 lap averages.
To me, it’s the four HMS cars and Truex as the favorites out of this group. Kevin Harvick is the only driver from SHR that looked the part too.