It looks like Gander got a package deal. The Gander Outdoors 400 Dover is the playoff race at Dover International Speedway and now the Gander RV 400 is the spring race at the Monster Mile in the state of Delaware. Previously without a sponsor, this race got one in early April as Gander came to an agreement with NASCAR officials. This is not to be confused with the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono. NASCAR needs some new sponsorship blood.
In any event, racing happens this week on Sunday at Dover as the drivers look ahead to the race next week at Kansas and then a week “off” for All-Star festivities in the middle of the month.
Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers for the 11th race of the season.
How They Stand
It’s been a little while since we’ve done a standings update in these write-ups. Kyle Busch is the points leader with 430 and his three wins. On the strength of Stage points, Joey Logano is well ahead of Denny Hamlin with 415 points. Hamlin has 367. Kevin Harvick hasn’t won a race, but sits fourth, one spot ahead of Brad Keselowski, who has two wins on the season.
Martin Truex Jr. won at Richmond and has the sixth-highest number of points. Last week’s winner Chase Elliott is now seventh. Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, and Clint Bowyer round out the top 10. There are no wins for that trio and no wins for any drivers outside of the top seven.
If the playoffs began today, those 10 drivers plus Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Alex Bowman, and Jimmie Johnson would be in.
This has not been a great track for a lot of the active drivers. Jimmie Johnson has 11 career wins at Dover to lead all active racers, but he doesn’t look like a guy ready to win a race anytime soon. Kyle Busch has three wins at Dover, but only one since 2013. No other active driver has won this race twice and Johnson and Ryan Newman are the only actives with multiple wins in the fall.
The only active drivers with wins in the spring at Dover since 2000 are Harvick, Johnson, Busch, and Truex. Matt Kenseth had wins in 2011 and 2016. Johnson has six. Somebody has to win this one and it probably won’t be Johnson, so who will it be?
The favorite this week is Busch, despite not finishing in the top 15 in this race since 2013 when he led the most laps and finished fourth. He’s been a lot better in the fall race with a win, two seconds, a fifth, and a string of nine straight top-10 finishes.
Busch isn’t the only one with a lack of consistency at Dover. Brad Keselowski has been sixth, 38th, sixth, 12th, second, and fifth in this race the last six years. He’s been 14th, 10th, fourth, 16th, second, and 37th in the fall race since his 2012 win. Penske teammate Joey Logano has been 13th, 25th, 22nd, and 11th since finishing in the top 10 three straight years from 2012-14. He’s had a little more success in the fall, including a third-place finish last year.
Denny Hamlin is usually good on short tracks, but Dover has caused him problems. He does have three straight top-10 finishes in the spring, but top 10s don’t win you races. He was second in the fall last year, but 35th the year prior. His JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. might be the best of the Toyotas to bet on this week, as he’s been fourth and third the last two years. He was 15th, though, in the fall last year after finishing fourth in 2017 and winning in 2016.
So, Who Do I Take?
Well that’s the $1,000,000 question, isn’t it? You might as well make some price grabs because this looks to be a pretty wide-open race. Chase Elliott has finished third, second, and first in the fall race the last three years and has two top-five finishes in the spring. His Talladega win kind of came out of nowhere, but he’s been a strong short-track racer in his NASCAR career. At +1300, he’s certainly worth a look, even if he’s on the radar of oddsmakers this week.
Kurt Busch has had some good Dover runs lately, finishing fifth in three of his last five trips to the Monster Mile, including twice in the spring race. It’s a balloon number at +1900, but with tight racing conditions, Busch could run at the front and then sneak in there, much like he did at Bristol last year.
Finally, Kyle Larson is a guy to take a long, hard look at this week. He could very well have gotten his first win last week, but it was just another disappointment. At least he has to have some confidence going into Dover here, where he was third in 2015, runner-up in 2016 and 2017, and had the pole position last year en route to finishing 10th. As far as short tracks go, this one and Richmond have been his two best. At +1900, he’s worthy of a bet.
If you really want a massive long shot price, Daniel Hemric ran really well here last year in the Xfinity Series races and is a nice up-and-comer in the sport.
Go price hunting here with this one. Busch is a deserving favorite, but there’s no way a +330 price tag makes any sense here.