If you remember back to the first Dover race this year, I mentioned this track as being a “gold mine” for place differential points, and that race did not disappoint, as six of the top 10 finishers started outside of the top 10, including race-winner Jimmie Johnson, who started 14th. One of the highest scorers in that race, though, was Danica Patrick, who ended up finishing 10th after starting back in 31st. Will we see a similar kind of run from a driver this weekend? There are quite a few good race cars that qualified outside of the top 20 for this weekend’s Apache Warrior 400, including some in the playoffs: Kasey Kahne (21st), Austin Dillon (23rd), and Jamie McMurray (26th). Dover is definitely one of those races in FOX Fantasy Auto that you should target place differential points much more than finish points, so keep that in mind when finalizing your roster on Sunday.
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My team points last week (Loudon 2): 220
Overall team standings: 68th
Total team points for the season: 4,962
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for the 2017 Apache Warrior 400 Race
Jimmie Johnson ($10,200) – The fact that an 11-time Dover winner is priced at $10,200 in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend is laughable, especially considering Jimmie Johnson is the most recent winner here at “The Monster Mile” as well. However, you have to play the cards you are dealt in Fantasy NASCAR, so even though this is a major chalk pick, sometimes you have to run with the crowd. Johnson qualified 17th for Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 but should finish much better than that. As mentioned before, this #48 Chevrolet went to victory lane here at Dover back in June, and Johnson has finished 7th or better in nine of his last twelve starts at this track. He may not have the best car to start out the race on Sunday, but JJ will be there at the end. Nobody knows (or races at) this track better than the seven-time champion.
Chase Elliott ($11,200) – Dover International Speedway is one of the best tracks on the NASCAR circuit for Chase Elliott, and that really shouldn’t be all that surprising considering how many times a Hendrick Motorsports car has ended up in victory lane over the last ten years. This weekend, Chase will start from 12th, but there’s a really good possibility that he’ll be able to make it near the top 5 before it’s all said and done. Elliott has made three career Cup Series starts at “The Monster Mile” and has yet to finish worse than 5th. He’s never led a lap at this track, but he gets good finishes, and that kind of consistency is very valuable in the world of Fantasy NASCAR. As far as practice speeds go, the #24 Chevrolet was 7th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday morning and then wound up fastest in the Happy Hour session. Chase ranked 2nd on the ten-lap average chart in that final practice as well.
Brad Keselowski ($9,500) – A lot of people have been talking about Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team “flipping the switch” once the playoffs started. And while that can still–and probably will–happen, the #2 team has already done it. Brad Keselowski came into the playoffs with five straight finishes outside of the top 10, but he then wound up 6th at Chicagoland and then 4th at Loudon last weekend. Here at Dover, BK has been pretty hit or miss throughout his Cup Series career, but it’s worth noting that most of his bad finishes came early on in his career. Looking at just the last ten races here at Dover, Keselowski has one win, six finishes of 6th or better, and only three results worse than 12th. The #2 Ford will roll off the grid from 16th when Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 gets going but should finish quite a bit higher than that when it’s all said and done.
Jamie McMurray ($9,400) – The #1 team had a very rare mediocre qualifying effort here at Dover on Friday–he’ll start back in 26th for Sunday’s race–but having a less-than-ideal starting spot isn’t a big issue here at Dover International Speedway. Additionally, starting mid-pack isn’t really all that new for McMurray at this track, considering he hasn’t had a top 10 qualifying effort here since 2014. Looking at this weekend, the #1 Chevrolet was really fast in Saturday morning’s practice session (4th-fastest) and then during Happy Hour McMurray ranked 4th-fastest. He ranked 2nd and 4th in terms of ten-lap average during those two sessions, respectively. At worst, Jamie Mac should finish inside the top 15 on Sunday, although a top 10 isn’t out of the question, as he’s finished 7th or better in three of his last five starts at this track.
Other viable options: Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
FOX Fantasy Auto Fade Option
Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,700) – Because FOX Fantasy Auto refuses to make adjustments in the algorithm they use to determine driver salaries, Martin Truex, Jr. continues to be severely under-priced in this game and, thus, owned by over 50% of players almost every week. And while the #78 Toyota is a definite threat to win at Dover here on Sunday, that doesn’t make Truex the best pick in the FOX Fantasy Auto game. Because he’s starting on the pole, Martin has no opportunity to get any place differential points in this game, which means the maximum number of points he can achieve is 45. As far as strategy goes in this FOX game, I’d rather go with a driver who has the possibility of scoring more than 45 points, especially when someone like Truex is so highly owned. If something goes wrong with the #78 Toyota on Sunday, that kind of high ownership can allow those that don’t pick Truex to gain a lot of points.