Big performances at just the right time can go a long way. Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman, William Byron, and Ryan Blaney all managed top-10 finishes on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway to advance to the next round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. That round starts this week, as the 12 remaining drivers run around the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway for the Drydene 400.
We’ll break this one down with odds available on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers as the Round of 12 gets underway.
Hitting the Reset Button
With each round in the NASCAR playoffs, the points reset. For the race at Las Vegas, the points reset to 2,000. For the race at Dover, the points reset to 3,000. After that, the bonus points are added. The excitement for guys like Bowyer, Bowman, Byron, and Blaney sure is short-lived because those four guys have a lot of work to do with this next set of races.
You can also throw Kyle Larson in that mix. Larson, who did win Stage 1 last week, only managed six bonus points over the first 29 races of the season. Larson is 18 points behind Brad Keselowski for seventh place. The four lowest point totals will be eliminated. Bowman is one point behind Larson and Blaney is one point behind Bowman. Byron managed one bonus point and Bowyer managed zero.
Kyle Busch leads the field with 3,046 points thanks to his extra points. Martin Truex Jr. is second with 3,041. Denny Hamlin has 3,030 and Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick sit fourth and fifth with 3,029 and 3,028, respectively. Chase Elliott scored some bonus points with his win at the Roval and is tied with Keselowski with 3,024 points.
Anything can happen and a win means automatic advancement to the Round of 8, which starts at Martinsville later this month.
Constantly Looking for Consistency
Truex won the first two races of the Round of 12 and then finished seventh on the Roval. Keselowski was the only driver to finish in the top five in all three races. Hamlin had a top-five, a 15th, and a 19th. Logano won the first stage at Las Vegas, but finished, 9th, 11th, and 10th. There have been lots of ups and downs this NASCAR season, but even the sport’s best are seeking some consistency at this point in time.
Busch hasn’t won since the first race at Pocono, when he scored the fourth of his four wins. Logano hasn’t won since the first race at Michigan. Keselowski hasn’t won since the race at Kansas, but he has one coming up here in this round as the final race of the Round of 12. Larson hasn’t won at all. Bowman was a surprise winner at Chicagoland.
Of the 29 races to date, 26 of them have been won by drivers that are still alive in the playoff chase. These three wins should come from that group. This may be the best chance for the drivers below the cut line because Talladega is a tough place to win and there are some excellent 1.5-mile racers looking ahead to Kansas.
The Dover Double
It’s been a long time since the NASCAR drivers were at Dover. It was May 6 for the Gander RV 400. The race was postponed to Monday because of rain. It was a tough year for weather for the drivers and, most importantly, the fans. Chase Elliott led the most laps and was the best driver, but Truex won the race. Bowman finished second.
As a result, Truex, who has two spring wins and one fall win back in 2016, is the second favorite this week. Even though Busch hasn’t won in a while, you can still see the respect that he gets from the oddsmakers. Elliott was a contender in the spring and won this race last fall, so he actually gets one of his lowest price points of the season.
Busch and Truex share the favorite role at +440. Elliott is +770. He was almost exclusively in double digits for the longest time, so what he has lately is getting some run in the markets. Interestingly, Harvick and Larson are +660. Harvick makes sense. Larson doesn’t.
Harvick, Truex, Busch, and Elliott are the last four winners in this race, so you may not want to dig all that deep for a longer shot.
A Ford hasn’t won the fall race at Dover since 2008. Kevin Harvick’s spring win in 2018 was the first on this track since 2011. It’s hard to say if that is just coincidence or not, but it doesn’t bode well for guys like Harvick, Keselowski, or Logano. Perhaps there is something about the high-banked turns on this one-mile track that don’t work as well for Fords.
The turns are all 24 degrees with nine-degree straights. Fords have done a touch better in the Xfinity/Nationwide Series, but they still haven’t had great success with getting to the winner’s circle. For the most part, outside of Jimmie Johnson, Chevy hasn’t had much success at Dover either.
So, the options are limited this week. Truex has been running great, so even with the +440 price tag, he’s a good look. Denny Hamlin hasn’t won here, but he was second in this race last year. He doesn’t have a lot of great finishes, but it seems like he should and he’s got top-fives in both Richmond races, one at Bristol, and a win at Bristol. He would be my longer shot pick at +1320.