Picking winners based on the odds for the Saturday and Sunday NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader races at Dover International Speedway this weekend (both races at 4 p.m. ET on NBC) is tricky since these are the first races at the Monster Mile this season.
Dover is a concrete, one-mile oval with 24-degree banking in the turns and nine-degree banking on the straights. It also features significant elevation changes going in and coming out of the corners. All of this is to say there is no other track like Dover on the NASCAR schedule.
Dover was originally scheduled to host just one NASCAR Cup race this season after hosting two per year since 1971, but that lone race was turned into a doubleheader as part of NASCAR's schedule changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it's one of three tracks (joining Pocono and Michigan earlier this year) ever to host Cup races in consecutive days.
Below are the complete Vegas odds to win this weekend's NASCAR Cup Series races at Dover, plus our top three picks of drivers who could end up taking the checkered flag.
NASCAR odds to win at Dover
Kevin Harvick is the favorite to win at Dover by default since he has had the most consistently dominant car in the Cup Series this season with six wins. The points leader entered the Dover weekend with a 118-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.
To clinch the NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship, Harvick will either need to be 121 points ahead of second in the series driver standings following the first race at Dover, or 61 points ahead of second in the standings following the second race at Dover.
Below are the complete odds to win the NASCAR races at Dover this weekend, courtesy of Draft Kings Sportsbook. (Odds are prior to Saturday's first leg of the doubleheader.)
|Driver||Odds to win Dover race|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+400|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||+20000|
|John Hunter Nemechek||+50000|
Martin Truex Jr. is a close second behind Harvick in the odds to win at Dover in part because he won the spring race at this track last season. (Kyle Larson won the fall race.)
Truex and the driver right behind him on the odds board, Chase Elliott, have top-five driver ratings at Dover among those in the field.
Below are the top 10 driver ratings at Dover among those in the doubleheader field. (Driver ratings compiled from 2005-2019 races among active drivers at Dover.)
- Jimmie Johnson, 112.9
- Matt Kenseth, 105.8
- Kyle Busch, 104.3
- Martin Truex Jr., 99.8
- Chase Elliott, 98.2
- Kevin Harvick, 96.6
- Brad Keselowski, 92.4
- Clint Bowyer, 89.8
- Kurt Busch, 89.4
- Daniel Suarez, 87.5
Elliott, Hamlin and Truex will start the first Dover race in first, second and third, respectively. That's a good omen for all three, as the top three starting positions are by far the most proficient at Dover based on the results of 100 previous races at the one-mile track. The second starting position has produced the most winners (19) of all.
Below is the breakdown of wins by starting position in the 100-race history of the NASCAR Cup Series at Dover.
NASCAR at Dover expert picks
(Statistics are Loop Data from 2005 – present)
1. Martin Truex Jr.
Career stats at Dover:
- Three wins, seven top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
- Average finish of 12.179 (sixth-best)
- Average running position of 11.489 (fifth-best)
- Driver rating of 99.8 (fourth-best)
Truex has somehow managed to finish the last five races in third place, which is frustrating, but at least his team has speed. That will be necessary for Truex to repeat what he did at Dover last May, when he led 132 laps on his way to victory.
2. Jimmie Johnson
Career stats at Dover:
- 11 wins, 17 top fives, 25 top 10s; three poles
- Average finish of 8.900 (third-best)
- Average running position of 8.848 (series-best)
- Driver rating of 112.9 (series-best)
We're well aware that Johnson has not won a Cup race since he took the checkered flag at this very track more than three years ago, but we're not deterred by the drought.
Johnson's career numbers at Dover are simply too impressive to ignore. Nobody in the history of NASCAR racing has more Cup wins at the track than Johnson's 11 (Bobby Allison and Richard Petty had seven), and Johnson has led 3,110 of the 14,165 laps he has run at Dover — an absurd 22 percent. This might be his best chance to win a race before he retires from full-time Cup racing at the end of the season.
3. Kyle Busch
Corey LaJoie +150000
Career stats at Dover:
- Three wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
- Average finish of 14.300 (11th-best)
- Average running position of 10.376 (third-best)
- Driver rating of 104.3 (third-best)
The defending NASCAR Cup Series champion is in a bit of a drought himself, still winless in 2020. But this is a good track for the No. 18. Busch has finished in the top 10 in the last three Cup races at Dover, and the most recent of his three wins at the Monster Mile came in the summer of 2017.