Drydene 200 (Xfinity Series)

Dover International Speedway

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Welcome back to this week’s Xfinity Series race breakdown! It was fun to see the drivers having to manhandle their cars and manage tires last week at Darlington, and I can’t wait until they return on Labor Day weekend! This week, we head to Dover, Delaware, for another steep-banked track where passing is difficult. It is a 1-mile concrete oval, most similar to Bristol. There are 200 laps in this race, which means approximately 130 hog points available. Let’s dig in!

As a reminder, here are the rules I established at the beginning of the year for constructing winning lineups in the Xfinity Series:

1) Target a minimum of 5x value with all drivers in the lineup. (81.8% of optimals) 

2) Spend at least $49000, except at drafting tracks. (72.7% of optimals)

3) Roster at least two drivers priced above $9000. (81.8% of optimals) 

4) Roster at least one driver priced above $10000. (93.9% of optimals) 

5) Play at least one driver priced less than $6000. (84.8% of optimals) 

6) If a driver is priced above $13000, roster them. (83.3% of optimals)

Drivers to Target

$10k and above

Austin Cindric (16) – In last year’s first Dover race, Cindric didn’t run a single green flag lap outside the top 3 positions. However, he started on the pole and wasn’t able to regain the lead once he lost it on pit road at the first caution. In both races, he seemed to run wherever his team got him off pit road. He does have some place differential upside this week, but I’m not sure he leads enough to pay off his salary. Either way, he was arguably the 2nd best driver here in 2020.

Justin Allgaier (2) – This is my favorite dominator option this weekend, and I’ve already placed an outright bet on him to win the race. I wish he wouldn’t have won last week, but I digress. Allgaier is incredible at short tracks, especially the steeply banked ones, Bristol and Dover. He made the optimal lineup in all four races at those tracks and 7 of 9 short track races overall in 2020. He won the first Dover race in dominating fashion and likely would have in the second until a late pit penalty. He has 5 top 2 finishes in the past six races here and gets to start on the front row.

**Note: Ty Gibbs is too highly-priced, in my opinion. He has worked out at this price before. However, it was either when he started further back or when he led laps at Martinsville. He did lead over 100 laps in a K&N East race here in 2019, but I expect the adjustment period to be more drastic in these cars this weekend. (Update: He won the ARCA race here yesterday…) Allmendinger can be considered fast late in the run last week at Darlington, but I don’t have a strong belief in his chances this week. Nemechek isn’t in a great car, and I think a top 10 would be his ceiling. He’s a safe cash play, but I will be fading in GPPs.

$8k to $10k

Noah Gragson (3) – Whether his car was legal last week or not, it was the fastest car in the race. It didn’t result in a win, but hopefully, that lowers his ownership. Though he’s not got the success here that Allgaier does, he finished 4th and 6th at Dover in 2020. He also is good at Bristol and Homestead, which are also steep-banked. He’ll need some hog points to pay off and is risky starting this close to the front, but he’ll be ready to pounce if Allgaier struggles.

Daniel Hemric (1) – As always, I don’t expect Hemric to win since he never does. However, he is starting on the pole and has the best pit crew in the series, which also happens to be Denny Hamlin’s Cup crew. At a track where it’s tough to pass, and pit crews may be more critical, there is a path for Hemric to be optimal, especially if he beats Allgaier at the start. He does have 3 top 5 finishes in 4 races here in relatively equal equipment, so I can’t ignore the upside.

Jeb Burton (14) – He finished 7th here in 2020, starting 27th and methodically working his way through the field, which was good enough to make the optimal lineup despite his $9200 price tag. Now, he has more seat time and is priced lower. A top 5 finish pays off his salary, which is certainly possible given the speed he’s shown this season and his short track experience. 

JJ Yeley (32) – We’ve gotten used to using Yeley as a cheap place differential play, and now, he’s priced above $8k. That’s okay, though, because he is arguably the best car he’s driven over the past few years as he will be wheeling the #23 Our Motorsports car while Cody Ware takes over the #17 car. His average running position this season is 21st, with two 13th place finishes showing for it. It could be optimal with a top 15 finish.

**Note: I may consider Josh Berry because he’s shown the ability to adjust to these different track types with little to no experience. He even finished 2nd here in ARCA last night. If I have exposure, it’ll be just as a GPP flier, though. Zane Smith can be considered to have a pair of 9th place finishes with JRM here in 2019. He will be with a new team and without practice, though.

$6k to $8k

Riley Herbst (20) – Believe me, I know. Herbst is trash. However, he did have two top 10 finishes at Dover in 2020 and is now in a better car (or at least it seemed that way Briscoe was driving it). Herbst is a very boom-or-bust option with 4 top 12 finishes and five finishes worse than 25th. He also finished 10th at Bristol last fall, which would be close to making the optimal lineup.

Landon Cassill (37) – This week, Cassill will be switching from the #4 car to the #6 car. I’m not sure if this is mainly a downgrade in equipment since it’s still JD Motorsports; it seems more like a move to keep the #6 in the top 30 in points since Vargas wrecks it every week. A ceiling-type performance would be a 15th place finish, though I think 20th is more likely. He’s possibly too highly-priced to make it into my lineups, but he’s a strong option in cash games.

Brandon Brown (19) – He didn’t have his best race at Darlington, but he’s more talented than the 24th place finish he received. So far in 2021, he has five highly-priced finishes of 11th or better. Along those same lines, his past four finishes at Dover are 16th, 14th, 11th, 13th. As long as he runs his race and doesn’t have issues, he has top 10 potentials.

**Note: Statistically, this is Ryan Sieg’s best track, but that still means finishing in the back half of the top 10, which likely isn’t enough. Moffitt finished 10th here in 2020, ranking 7th in driver rating. Given his talent, he has top 5 potentials, but I think 10th is more likely. He’s firmly in play. Josh Williams has also been much improved in 2021, with six finishes of 21st or better. His average finish at Dover is 21st, but a few more positions could thrust him into the optimal lineup.

$6k and below

Alex Labbe (18) – I’ll admit, this isn’t my favorite play, but there’s not much I like in this range. As he has done in his past four starts at Dover, I expect him to finish 15th to 20th, yielding about a 5x value at his price. He did come away with a top 10 at Darlington last week, making me feel better about the play.

Jade Buford (34) – Though he doesn’t have any experience at Dover, I think this is a misprice. Unlike other cars in this price range, his equipment is capable of finishing the race. He has four finishes this season between 18th and 21st. I have him projected for a 24th place finish, which would be nearly 6x value at his salary. Give me the salary relief and place differential.

Drivers to Fade

Brandon Jones

Michael Annett

Jeremy Clements

Gray Gaulding

Joe Graf, Jr.

B.J. McLeod

Final Thoughts

There are a few different ways to go this week, and it depends on your thoughts and contest selection. 

  1. Play one dominator and fill in with place differential plays. This is smart if you feel like you can nail one of the main doms or think that there is little passing for the lead (a la MTJ at Darlington last week). I will likely utilize this approach in cash games this week. 

CORE: Yeley/Cassill/Williams + dominator

  1. Play 2 dominators and at least three other drivers starting in the top 25. This strategy mirror that of most optimal lineups at short tracks, including last year’s Dover and Bristol races. While it can be very rewarding if you hit the optimal, there is also the risk of not cashing if you choose the wrong dominator. As I will continue to be chasing tickets, I will be using this construction in those contests and GPPs.

CORE: Allgaier (favorite dom)/Brown/Yeley + Gragson OR Gibbs OR Cindric

  1. Play 3 dominators with cheap place differential plays. This strategy improves the chances that you land on the two main dominators. Though the third high-priced driver likely doesn’t hit value, a good finish will allow you to be likely at least cash. However, punting will be necessary to fit the salaries.

CORE: Allgaier/Gragson/Cindric/Buford

As always, best of luck this week, Speed Degens! If you have any questions, join our FREE Fantasy Sports Degens slack chat or find me on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308). Until next time!