Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Friday 5/3/19
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By Micah Roberts
For the second straight week, the NASCAR Cup Series visits a race track celebrating its 50th anniversary. Last week it was the monstrous Talladega Superspeedway. This week it's Dover International Speedway, the high-banked, 1-mile concrete layout known as the Monster Mile.
Sunday's race will be the 99th Cup race held at Dover. It will also be the 11th race of the season and fifth race using the race package with an engine producing 750 horsepower and no aero ducts. The four previous races using this package were at Phoenix, Martinsville, Bristol, and Richmond with a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota winning three of them and a Team Penske Mustang driven by Brad Keselowski dominating at Martinsville. A Chevrolet only had two top-five finishes combined between the four races. JGR had nine, Penske had six and Stewart-Haas Racing had three, one of which was Clint Bowyer who was third at Richmond three weeks ago.
“Dover is always a cool track that I think every driver looks forward to because it’s a driver’s track," said Bowyer who was runner-up last spring at Dover. "You’ve got to man up, get on top of that wheel and make things happen. There are just so many things going on there on that concrete surface and high banks. It’s a lot of fun. If you win there, you’ve earned it.”
Bowyer is posted at 12/1 odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and while he's never won a Cup race at Dover, he does have two Xfinity Series wins. There's a feeling from a few NASCAR minds I respect that the SHR Mustangs are going to be next to join the winner's circle after Chevrolet finally joined the party last week.
Bowyer's teammate Kevin Harvick won this race last year to give him four wins on the season. He dominated both races last season finishing first in both stages of each and leading 452 laps combined. He was sixth in the fall. Harvick just hasn't looked comfortable with the new package and it was evident right out of the gate at Phoenix, a track he's dominated at with different packages, teams and manufacturers in the past when he finished ninth and couldn't hold his usual line. However, in the last race using this package at Richmond he led 30 laps and finished fourth.
The SuperBook thinks highly of Harvick this week and posted him as the second choice to win at 4/1 odds. He's won two of the past seven races at Dover.
Last season Kurt Busch drove the SHR No. 41 to two fifth-place finishes at Dover and Daniel Suarez takes over with it being his best track averaging a 6.7 finish between four starts while driving for JGR.
“Dover is probably my favorite track and it’s probably my best track, too,” said Suarez who the Superbook posted at 50-to-1 odds. “I’m not really sure why it’s so good for me, but it’s a lot of fun. With the new package, it should be crazy fast, so it’s going to be a lot of fun, I hope. I always have it marked on my list of tracks that I think we have a really good shot to win at. Kevin and Clint were both so good there last year and my crew chief Billy Scott and the 41 team were really good there last year, too.”
Both Bowyer and Suarez had top-10 finishes at Bristol last month with this package. While Dover is unique to itself, I have seen correlations in performances over the same season with Bristol's half-mile, high banked concrete layout. Suarez's best finish in the Cup Series was third in this race last season and he also won an Xfinity Series race there in 2016. It's a good track for Suarez and he's worth throwing $5 on at 50/1 odds.
Sitting atop the SuperBook's odds board is Kyle Busch as the 3/1 favorite. He's got three wins at Dover in the Cup series, five wins in Xfinity Series and four wins in the Truck Series. It's obvious that he's fond of the concrete layout.
“I love that place," said Busch. "It’s fun to race there and it’s a place I’m looking forward to going to with our PEDIGREE Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Xfinity Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at that racetrack and, for it to be a mile in length and for it to be concrete – concrete surfaces that we race on, anyway – are a little bit slick.
"It’s definitely a rollercoaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, I think because you can get so much out of that place. There are two ways about it – you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days are going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”
So far in 2019, there have been no bad days for Busch. He leads the Cup Series in points on the basis of top-10 finishes in all 10 races this season, which includes three wins, two of which came using the 750 HP package at Phoenix and Bristol.
The Gibbs cars, minus Erk Jones, have all had success using this race package. Denny Hamlin has finished fifth in all four races and Martin Truex Jr. finished second at Phoenix and won at Richmond after leading a race-high 186 laps.
Truex at 8/1 odds might be someone to key on this week and not just because he won the last race featuring the 750 HP package. This is the home track for the Mayetta, New Jersey native and he's been great at it from the beginning of his NASCAR career with back-to-back Xfinity Series wins in 2004 and 2005. He won his first career Cup race at Dover in 2007. He won there again in 2016 and since then has finished third, fourth, fourth and 15th. He probably should have at least two more wins because he had the best car in both 2017 races.
Chase Elliott comes off his first win of the season and now goes to his best track where he's averaged a 4.3 finish in six Cup starts. That's five top-five finishes in six starts and his last start there in the fall saw him take the checkers. His best using the 750 HP package this season was runner-up at Martinsville.
Joey Logano won four straight Xfinity Series race at Dover in 2012 and 2013, but he's yet to win in the Cup Series in 20 starts. He was third last fall. Perhaps the angle to look at most with him this week is the race package being used. He led 146 laps at Bristol before finishing third and led 52 laps at Richmond before finishing second.
Along those same lines, Logano's teammate Ryan Blaney needs to be considered despite never doing anything extraordinary at Dover. It's the car. It's this package that he led 94 laps at Phoenix before finishing third. He then finished fourth at Martinsville and then led a race-high 158 laps at Bristol and finished fourth.
Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #19 Martin Truex Jr. (8/1)
2) #18 Kyle Busch (3/1)
3) #22 Joey Logano (8/1)
4) #9 Chase Elliott (12/1)
5) #12 Ryan Blaney (20/1)
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By Dan Dobish
Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.
The MENCS returns to Dover International Speedway for the Gander RV 400 from Delaware, also known as the Monster Mile. The weather forecast is looking a bit ominous, as there is an 80-100 percent chance of rain from 12-3 p.m. ET and temperatures which will struggle to make it out of the 50's, tapering off by about 7-8 p.m. ET. There could be lengthy, lengthy delays, or even the potential of a postponement to race on Monday when conditions will be clear and much warmer.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott (30/1) returned his team and manufacturer to Victory Lane last weekend at the GEICO 500, and now he'll look to steer his Chevrolet to a win at the Monster Mile for a second consecutive time. He won the fall race last season, and he is on the pole for Sunday's run. Elliott also leads all active drivers with a 4.33 Average-Finish Position (AFP) in six Cup starts at Dover, posting that one win, five top-5s and 149 laps led while he has never finished lower than 12th. Elliott has also run 97.1 percent of his laps over the past five Dover starts inside the Top 15.
Elliott will have company on Row 1 from a familiar face, as teammate William Byron (150/1) qualified for the No. 2 starting spot in the grid, showing off speed all weekend. He posted a best speed of 167.645 mph in the first practice session on Saturday afternoon, and he was a respectable seventh in the second session, and 10th in best 10-lap consecutive average at 158.589 mph. He made his Cup debut at Dover last season, finishing 14th in the spring race and 19th in the fall run, so look for some improvement.
Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson (20/1) has rather long odds considering he is an 11-time winner at Dover, and the rest of the field combined has just 16 wins. Johnson has made 34 Cup starts at the track, winning 11 times, posting 17 top-5 finishes, 24 top-10 runs and 3,105 laps led with a 9.85 AFP. The next closest driver in terms of laps led is Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick (7/2) with 1,407 laps led. Happy has managed two checkered flags, one of just six drivers who have multiple Dover wins in Sunday's field. He has a solid 14.25 AFP with 29 of his 36 finishes inside the Top 20, too.
Harvick's teammate Daniel Suarez (60/1) has had some nice early Cup success at DIS, posting a 6.75 AFP in his four career starts, including sixth and eighth in 2017, and third and 10th last season. He has never finished lower than 10th, so he is a tremendous value at this price level. He was sixth in the second practice with a speed of 160.865 mph on Saturday, too, while checking in sixth in 10-lap consecutive averages at 159.069 mph. Don't sleep on Suarez in his No. 41 Ford.
Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson (16/1) and Kurt Busch (14/1) could make some noise at the track. Larson hasn't had the start he has wanted this season, but he could put all of that in the rear-view mirror on the Monster Mile concrete. He was second with a 168.106 mph practice speed in the first session, and fourth in the second run. He was also top of the charts with a 159.747 mph in best 10 consecutive lap averages on Laps 18-27. Larson has 10 Cup runs under his belt, posting four top-5 finishes with 463 laps led and an 8.5 AFP. The elder Busch brother has won this race once with nine top-5 finishes and 11 top-10 showings with a 17.9 AFP and 426 laps led. However, he also has seven DNFs, too. He had a few uneven results from 2014-17, but he was also running in inferior equipment. Back in top-notch machinery, he was fifth in both the spring and fall run last season for SHR.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Martin Truex Jr. (13/2) is worth a look on what amounts to his home track. The New Jersey native picked up his first-ever Cup victory at Dover back in 2007, and he has two victories in 26 career wins with five Top 5s and 14 Top 10s with a 13.0 AFP and 745 laps led. MTJ has also run 96.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 over the past five starts at Dover. His JGR teammate Erik Jones (25/1) has rather moderate odds. He has been 18th or better in each of his four Cup starts, and he was fourth in last fall's race. Jones was a solid third with a speed of 161.435 mph in the second practice session and second in best 10-lap consecutive averages with a 159.562 mph run in Laps 1-10.
Of course, you can never forget about Kyle Busch (11/4), who has three career victory, 12 top-5 finishes and 17 top-10 showings in 28 career starts. NASCAR's Loop Data shows him third with a 108.4 Driver Rating over the past five starts behind Harvick and Truex Jr.
Lastly, the Penske Fords of Joey Logano (6/1), Brad Keselowski (7/1) and Ryan Blaney (12/1) are each in the mix for the victory at Dover. Logano has never won in 20 career starts at the track, but he has a solid 13.6 AFP with 11 of his 20 starts resulting in a top-10 finish or better. Keselowski has won once with eight of his 18 Cup starts inside the Top 10, leading 336 laps and posting a 13.2 AFP. Blaney is the least likely of the Penske trio to shine, as he has a dismal 20.0 AFP in six career starts, with half of his results outside of the Top 20.
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