This weekend the Cup Series will make a trip to Dover Motor Speedway in Delaware. Dover is a 1-mile concrete track with fairly steep banking. Until two years ago Dover was a unique track that did not have strong correlation with any other track. With the addition of Nashville Superspeedway to the Cup Series schedule two years ago this has changed some. At first the tracks may not seem particularly similar, Nashville is longer and has less banking. The concrete surface and top speeds in the range of155-159mph however make the tracks reasonably similar. Ultimately, my expected performance does consider recent races but the only two tracks that I am looking at for their similarity to Dover are Dover and Nashville.
Last year the race here was dominated by four drivers. Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin. The Chart below shows the obvious domination by Busch, Chastain, and Elliott. The domination by Hamlin is less obvious, as he only spent 40% of the race inside the Top 10. However, Hamlin had the car to beat until a series of unfortunate events ruined his day. First, during an early pit stop he lost the race off pit road to his own tire. Denny battled back from that incident only to see his day finished for good by a run in with Cody Ware. Kyle Larson also had a very strong day, having to battle back from a spin to still record a sixth-place finish.
2022 Dover and Nashville Data Review
A review of Nashville shows that Hamlin, Busch, and Elliott once again showed up as top tier cars. All three drivers led significant laps and were among the leaders in laps run inside the Top 10. In addition, although neither led laps at Nashville, Chastain and Larson both had Top 5 finishes. They were also both in the Top 10 with regards to number of laps run inside the Top 10.
So, with the idea that Dover and Nashville are our key tracks, lets to get to the bets.
Kyle Bush to Win | +1600 (Widely Available)
This number simply doesn’t make any sense to me. First off, Kyle Busch has been a monster here at Dover over the course of his career. Across the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series, Busch has won 12 times here at Dover, including three times in the Cup Series. In addition to his three wins, in 34 Cup Series Starts he has 21 Top 10 finishes and 13 Top 5 results. Although he hasn’t won here since 2017, he has five Top-10 finishes over the last eight races here. In addition, last year he showed a return to winning form leading 103 laps.
Busch is also off to a hot start to the 2023 season. In the first 10 races he has recorded two wins. He is currently fifth in the points standings. He has struggled some in the short track low-downforce package, but that shouldn’t play into our evaluation this week. Although Dover is just a mile long, NASCAR is running the intermediate track package at Dover. It’s been a while since the intermediate package has been used, but lets take a look back at Busch’s early season runs. Busch won Auto Club in this package and was ninth in my incident adjusted speed metric at Las Vegas. I’m not counting either track as similar to Dover. I do however factor them in as recent form in this package.
Given his history at Dover and his hot start to 2023, I would bet Busch down to +1500. I personally have .6u on Busch (being fortunate enough to snag him at +2000 when BetFred first opened on Tuesday), but I like him down to +1500. At +1600 or +1500 I would size my bet at .75 or .8u respectively.
Ross Chastain to Win | +1400 (BetMGM, Barstool Sportsbook, and BetRivers Sportsbook)
Dover has not historically been a good track for Ross. But as mentioned in the intro, last year Ross was one of four dominate cars here. This follows a trend of him having figured out this track around 2020. From 2017- 2019, in Cup six starts he never finished on the lead lap. His best finish in that time was 20th. In the Xfinity Series he had 10 starts between 2015 and 2019, with a best finish of 12th.
Then in 2020 he had two Xfinity starts, finishing second and third. In 2021, back in the Cup Series with Chip Ganassi Racing, he finished 15th. Finally, last year he finished third and led 86 laps. This coincides with Ross also being strong at Nashville. At Nashville Ross has finished second in 2021 and fifth last year. Its seems that Ross has finally figured out how to run these concrete tracks.
If you are in one of the lucky states that where BetFred is legal you can still snag Ross at +1500, which is what I was able to get him at. At +1500 I have .8u on Ross. Given the small sample size of strong racing I wouldn’t bet this under +1400. At +1400 I would have size my bet to .85u.