Dover’s an awesome monster to tame, NASCAR-wise. But it ain’t easy.
While some of the cookie-cutter 1.5-mile tracks favor stronger cars over stronger drivers, road courses favor stronger drivers and plate tracks favor luck … Dover is that perfect mixture of good machinery and pure talent and guts. The cars go fast, and the cream rises — and strokers generally don’t have a chance, unlike last week at Talladega where anybody could rise up and win.
Who will emerge? Well, the current drivers listed below have certainly excelled here. But who has excelled the most?
That’s up to you to decide, but here are the results of which current drivers have performed best (minimum 8 Cup starts):
Dover’s Cream of the Crop
No. 5 Kevin Harvick
Top categories: Wins (tied for best with 3); Laps led (third-best percentage).
The breakdown: Among active drivers, Kevin Harvick leads with 42 career starts at Dover, and he’s been pretty good here over the years. He’s led an astounding 1666 laps, won three races, you name it. Let’s face it: Historically has Harvick really been horrible at any particular track? Not exactly.
No. 4 Martin Truex, Jr.
Top categories: Wins (tied for best with 3); Average finish (third-best average).
The breakdown: This is clearly one of Truex’s better tracks, as evidenced by his statistics during his 32-race run at Dover, dating back almost 20 seasons. His three career wins certainly will impress you, along with his nine top-five finishes.
No. 3 Kyle Busch
Top categories: Wins (tied for best with 3); Laps led (second-best percentage).
The breakdown: Busch is good everywhere it seems, and Dover is no different. He leads all current drivers with 13 top-five finishes at the Delaware track, and he has three wins and 21 top-10 finishes. In 34 career races, Busch finished in the top 10 an astounding 62 percent of the time.
No. 2 Chase Elliott
Top categories: Second-best in three categories (wins, top-10 finish percentage, average finish).
The breakdown: Here we go with the Hendrick guys. Chase Elliott has been simply incredible at Dover, and an argument could be made that he deserves to be in the No. 1 spot. He has finished in the top five in 75 percent of his 12 starts at Dover. He hasn’t led nearly as many laps as his teammate Kyle Larson (899 to 394) but Elliott has been incredible here, just like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were.
No. 1 Kyle Larson
Top categories: Ranks No. 1 in three of the four categories (top-10 finish percentage, average finish, laps led percentage).
The breakdown: How good is Larson at Dover? He averages under a 7th-place finish there. Now think about that. He has finished in the top 10 in 79 percent of his 14 starts at the Delaware track. He has actually led 16 percent of the all-time laps he’s led there. And remember, while Hendrick Motorsports has historically been the best here, Larson didn’t even run with Hendrick until the past couple of years.
The rest of the pack
The surprising driver who is just outside the top five?: Daniel Suarez (top 10 finishes in 50 percent of his attempts).
Dover’s a challenge, and the cream usually rises to the top at tracks like this. It’s the perfect balance of well-built machines and individual talent. This weekend should be a good one.