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AAA 400 Drive Predictions

Race: AAA 400 Drive for Autism
Date: Sunday May 6, 2018
Track: Dover International Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
TV: FS1

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com

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As predicted, Joey Logano took the checkers at Talladega! It was a great race, but an interesting one with the change in the restrictor plates. NASCAR mandated a different plate to slow the cars down, which seemed to really affect the ability of the outside line to pull ahead throughout most of the race. It was definitely a fast line, but they couldn’t seem to ever get ahead and stay ahead of the line running on the bottom. For Logano, as I mentioned in my preview, a lot of credit goes to TJ Majors. That was Jr.’s old spotter who is now with Logano. Spotters are an enormous asset at these super speedways, and Logano definitely gave credit where credit was due in recognizing Majors’ efforts throughout the day. The 22 team held them all off, had solid pit stops, and stayed out of trouble long enough to grab the checkers.

Honestly, I was surprised that over half the field was still running by the end of the race. Twenty six cars were in the field, which is impressive considering we’ve seen as few as 8 cars running by the end of Talladega. The biggest incident happened on lap 166, involving a total of 14 cars. Overall, the racing was good and clean. Kurt Busch came home second followed by Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Joey Logano led the most laps with 70 altogether. Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard were the other two stage winners.

This weekend, we are heading to a much different scenario. Dover, know as the Monster Mile, takes on much different strategies than does Talladega. Dover is a place where track position is key. Statistically, the drivers that win here start 10th or better. If you watch qualifying, you’ll get a pretty good idea of who to watch. Drivers need to get up front and stay there to win this race. Dover International Speedway has been around for quite a while, since 1969 as a matter of fact. Up until 1995, this was an asphalt track. Since then, it’s been concrete, causing a whole array of tire issues. If you wonder why drivers test so much at Dover and why Goodyear is constantly here, that surface is your answer right there. This one mile oval has 24 degree banking through the turns and 9 degrees on the straights. There’s a lot of racing that happens throughout the entire track. You’ll often see drivers use multiple grooves and create multiple lanes at this tracks, making for some really great racing.

If we want to really break down the winners at Dover, we have to consider history here because not much has changed on the track. If we look at history, we’re silly not to mention Jimmie Johnson. He’s an 11 time Dover winner. That being said, he’s also not doing the greatest that we’ve seen from this team over the years. I’m not saying he’s not capable of winning this weekend. In fact, this is probably one of his best shots this year; however, I think that there are other options that will pull ahead. I’m actually going to go very out of the box this week with my pick to win. Let’s take a look at the whole lineup of potential winners:

My Pick to Win: Denny Hamlin
Middle of the Road Pick: Kyle Larson
Dark Horse Prediction: Alex Bowman

Call me crazy, which a lot of you probably are, but I have a gut instinct that Hamlin is going to pull something out this weekend for some reason. He’s got three poles here with nothing else really outstanding, but he likes this place. He wants to win, and that’s that. Kyle Larson led an enormous amount of laps here last year and really has this place dialed in well. Finally, Alex Bowman is coming off a top ten from Talladega and seems to be putting together some solid runs for the #88 team. They’re getting better and better, trying to move up through the points.

Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Joey Logano
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kurt Busch
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Kyle Larson
11. Aric Almirola
12. Alex Bowman
13. Erik Jones
14. Jimmie Johnson
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16. Ryan Newman

As you can see, Alex Bowman is doing a good job and holding his own in the #12 spot. Jimmie Johnson, well, has some work to do. This weekend should really help his cause, but only if he can work some magic and get some speed out of his Chevy. Denny Hamlin is going to be the one to watch, though. His biggest contender is going to be himself. He’s got the most pit road penalties of any driver. He’s got to really control that this weekend, as Dover can be a tough pit road to manage. Stay tuned this weekend as the drivers head to Dover for another great weekend of racing! - Looking for more than just standard driver to win NASCAR bets? Check out 5Dimes!

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