4 NASCAR Prop Bets for Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover

Credit:

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jimmie Johnson

In the words of Wayne Campbell, “Hi, I’m in Delaware.”

While the state is rather unassuming, it boasts “The Monster Mile,” a 95,500-seat one-mile concrete oval with 24-degree banking in the corners, which makes Dover International Speedway one of the steepest tracks on the circuit.

One of NASCAR’s two concrete steep tracks (Bristol Motor Speedway is the other one), Dover especially caters to a particular type of driver known as a “rim rider” (someone who prefers to ride at the top of the track, where it’s easier to maintain a high speed). Additionally, concrete (as opposed to asphalt) tends to provide more grip and tire consistency as well, which means that it’s harder to pass at Dover than at the average NASCAR track. As a result, track position (starting position and running position) is more important than it usually is.

 

Here are the main metrics I’m looking at this weekend:

  • Projected finishing position
  • Starting position
  • Short- and long-run practice times
  • Year-to-date performance
  • Steep-track history
  • Track-specific history

Something to keep in mind: Past Dover performance is predictive of how drivers are likely to perform at the AAA 400 Driver for Autism, but Dover is also a high-variance track because of its steep banking. It’s not as random as the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, but cars at Dover go faster than they ordinarily do at other tracks of similar size and length, so we should expect to see an elevated degree of randomness. With that in mind, the drivers I’m highlighting are those with plus odds.

Per usual, I rely on the machine learning statistical models and similarity scores at RotoViz, created by Nick Giffen (RotoDoc).

Here are four prop bets I’m eyeing for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Dover.

Jimmy Johnson (+110) over Brad Keselowski (-145)

Over the last 10 Dover races — since NASCAR switched to the Generation 6 car in 2013 — no one has outperformed Johnson’s 113.9 driver rating or 12.3% fastest laps rate. He’s won three of the last four spring Dover races. He finished top-three in both of his Dover runs last year. His nickname isn’t “The Dover Dominator,” but it should be.

Kez has better starting position (8 vs. 19) and 10-lap final-practice speed (9 vs. 16), but the RotoViz model gives Johnson the slight edge in projected finishing position (10.85 vs. 10.9). It’s hard to pass up the best Dover driver of the past five years at plus odds.

Joey Logano (+100) over Erik Jones (-130)

Logano is on the hottest of hot streaks. We are 10 races into the 2018 season, and he has finished outside of the top 10 just once. Coming off a win last week at Talladega, Logano is in peak form. Jones has superior starting position (11 vs. 18) as well as single-lap speed (6 vs. 13) and 10-lap speed (15 vs. 18) from final practice, but throughout his career Logano has consistently outperfomed poor practice times.

Additionally, Logano has the superior Dover history with the edge in finishing position (11.1 vs. 13.5), driver rating (92.7 vs. 90.4), running position (11.3 vs. 11.5), and quality pass percentage (72.9 vs. 67.6). Jones is a fine Dover driver and has four top-10 finishes this year, but Logano is racing at another level and has track history on his side.

Kurt Busch (+130) over Ryan Blaney (-160)

This prop in particular looks exploitable. Blaney has the slight edge in single-lap speed (12 vs. 15) and 10-lap speed (3 vs. 8), but Busch has superior starting position (9 vs. 14), and his Dover history puts Blaney to shame:

  • Finishing position: 19.4 vs. 25.2
  • Driver rating: 82.2 vs. 72.5
  • Running position:  14.9 vs. 21.8
  • Quality pass percentage: 61.0 vs. 45.8

Given that Busch won a Dover race last year and Blaney has won one race in his career, I’ll go with Busch the Elder.

Jamie McMurray (+135) over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-165)

Maybe think of this prop as a bonus option, since it’s more speculative. Stenhouse is the heavy favorite, given that he has a massive edge in starting position (5 vs. 23) and significant edges in single-lap speed (20 vs. 29) and 10-lap speed (29 vs. 28). Additionally, Stenhouse is in good form with two top-five finishes in his past three races, one of which was at the comparable Bristol track. Stenhouse seems like the better driver heading into the race.

McMurray, though, had two top-10 Dover finishes last year, and his track history is vastly superior to Stenhouse’s:

  • Finishing position: 16.7 vs. 21.8
  • Driver rating: 81.0 vs. 66.1
  • Running position:  14.7 vs. 22.6
  • Quality pass percentage: 58.3 vs. 34.9

The RotoViz Model has this head-to-head matchup basically as a pick’em, with McMurray projected to finish at 14.45 and Stenhouse, 14.71. Given his track history and positive odds, McMurray seems investable.

——

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

Pictured above: Jimmie Johnson

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