Here’s a look at five key Sprint Cup drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Dover International Speedway.
The hottest driver in the Sprint Cup Series hasn’t won at Dover since Spring 2010, but he has posted eight top 10s in the 11 Dover races since then. Last spring, he was in line for a top-five finish until he was involved in an incident with Brian Scott. Busch delivered a second-place finish in the fall playoff race that helped him advance. Another effort like that would be par for the course this season for Kyle, who leads the series with nine top-five finishes.
With Kyle Busch white-hot, Johnson’s mastery at the Monster Mile may be severely tested this weekend. But you can’t argue with his success there: 10 wins (most all-time), 2,999 laps led (again, most all-time), and a 9.1 average finish over his career (best among active drivers). Another victory would make him just the third driver in Sprint Cup history to earn at least 11 wins at a single track, joining Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. And with one more lap led, Johnson will become the seventh Sprint Cup driver to pace at least 3,000 laps at a single track.
Harvick’s clutch elimination race win at Dover last fall was a culmination of improved performance there since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. He’s led 693 laps in his last four Dover starts, and arguably could’ve had at least three Miles the Monsters on his mantle by now. A valve stem problem on his left front tire cost him a likely win in Sept. 2014 (led 223 laps) and he lost out to Jimmie Johnson last spring in a green-white-checkered finish.
While Harvick has enjoyed good results at Dover since joining SHR, the same can’t be said for teammate Kurt Busch, who only has an average finish of 21st in his last four Dover runs. But that figures to change with Kurt Busch riding lots of momentum thanks to nine top-10 finishes in the first 11 races this season.
While his great run at Kansas ended in a late-race wreck, Larson should be confident as he heads to Dover. Although he has only four career Cup starts there, he’s posted a strong 7.2 average finish with no finish worse than 11th. Additionally, 88 percent of his laps at Dover have been spent inside the top 15. At 52 points behind the Chase cutoff, a big result is certainly needed and Dover just might be the place for him to get it.