The Monster Mile at Dover is an underrated track. If Bristol is one of NASCAR's cathedrals (and it is), Dover is a mega-church. It's actually quite a lot like Thunder Valley, except it's about twice as big and features one of the hairiest entrances to Pit Row in the entire sport.
Both venues are concrete, both encourage a fair amount of rough driving and bruised feelings, and both will suck at least a dozen cars up against the wall at the exit of each turn. The guess here is that Sunday's winner's car will not go unblemished.
Note that this will be the sixth Car of Tomorrow event of the season, and if the other five have taught us anything so far this year, it's that excellence in the CoT trumps past excellence at a given track. Which is to say: you're crazy if you're not looking at Hendrick, Gibbs and maybe RCR cars for winners at the Sunday Dover event. Let's take a look at my favorite picks on the board.
Last Week: A kooky fuel-mileage finish in Charlotte wrecked what might have been an exceedingly lucrative Memorial Day weekend, but we still finished in the black thanks to an easy head-to-head win, Denny Hamlin over Kevin Harvick. That netted us a positive 0.24 units on 1.5 units wagered, and gave us a positive 2.38 units for the season on 18 units wagered, a return of 13.2%. (Note that if you'd eschewed the conservative betting scheme we outline below, and simply bet one unit per wager on everything we recommend, you'd have lost 2.26 units last weekend, but you'd still be up a net positive 13.08 units on 48 units wagered for the year, a return of 27.3%.)
Take Jeff Gordon (+541), 1/6th unit. In Car of Tomorrow events, Gordon has a ridiculous finishing average of 2.2. That's right: two-point-two. Plus, he's won two of them (at Phoenix and Darlington). There's no question that the Hendrick cars have spent more money and done more testing (both official and unofficial, if you believe Jack Roush) than any other team on the CoT, and it's paid off. While Denny Hamlin (+789) has looked great in four of the five CoT events, he hasn't been able to put an entire race together and earn a win; until he does, Hendrick seems like the smart play.
Take Jimmie Johnson (+468), 1/6th unit. Speaking of Hendrick.... J.J. has four wins in '07, and like Gordon, two of them have come on CoT tracks. Now, Johnson's CoT finishing average isn't quite 2.2...it's 5.0. And that's still ridiculous. Johnson probably should've won his fifth event of the year at Charlotte last week, but fell prey to some late loose lugs. Johnson has three career victories at Dover, including a win as recently as the fall of '05. He's the favorite in this event for a reason.
Take Kyle Busch (+1162), 1/6th unit. Yeah, yeah, really adventurous, I know. Three Hendrick cars, and the only guy I left out was last weekend's shocking winner, Casey Mears (+8000). Busch won the first-ever CoT event at Bristol (remember, Bristol and Dover share a lot of setup characteristics), and before crashing out of Dover's fall event last year, had a Cup career at the Monster Mile that read: 2nd, 2nd, 5th. Matt Kenseth (+1385) also tempts me here big-time, because he came a couple gallons of fuel away from sweeping the two Dover events last year (he won in the spring, then ran out of gas very late while leading last fall). But Hendrick + CoT = happiness. If Kenseth wins, I'll tip my cap to him, but at these odds, the younger Busch also makes a compelling case.
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