Five drivers to watch at Dover

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Keep an eye on these drivers in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson

His record at Dover will always make him someone to watch: Ten wins, a 9.6 average finish and more than 3,000 laps led. But with him not as dominant as in years past – and especially after what happened to him in this race last year – crushing everyone shouldn’t be the top priority on Sunday. It’s about getting the car home with a solid top 10 and moving on to the Round of 12.

Kurt Busch

Last week, Busch chalked up his first top-five performance since Kentucky in July with a fifth-place effort at Loudon. Coincidentally, that’s exactly where he finished at Dover this past May – and a repeat of that effort on Sunday will help him advance.

Kyle Larson

He has taken to the Monster Mile very quickly in his Cup career. While still searching for his first win there, he’s posted a 6.2 average finish – his best at any track on the circuit. His runner-up performance in May may be tough to replicate, but another solid outing should push him deeper into the Chase.

Tony Stewart

It’s time for the three-time Dover winner to pull out all the stops. Facing elimination at 11 points behind the cutoff, Stewart must snap out of a slump that began in late summer and has continued into the Chase. Over the last six races, he’s had three finishes of 30th or worse and no finishes better than 16th.

Jamie McMurray

Last year, McMurray was in the pressure cooker of trying to advance in the Chase for the first time. A fourth-place finish at Dover was not enough to move him on, but that experience should give him confidence. Considering he’s got a first-time Chaser both ahead (Larson – 12th) and behind him (Austin Dillon – 14th) in points, such confidence might give him an edge in the fight for the last advance spot.