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Rebounds in season opener by Ben Simmons, who also scores 19 points

Is Dover a 2-man race?

Posted by Eric Fisher On May 6

Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick have been the two dominant drivers during the first 10 races of the NASCAR season, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they qualified at the front of the field for Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism (2 p.m.) at Dover International Speedway.

Harvick, in third place in the overall standings, will start in the front row, alongside pole winner Kyle Larson. Busch, who is 30 points ahead of second-place Joey Logano in the overall standings and 81 points ahead of Harvick, will start in the second row.

Busch and Harvick each have three wins this season. Both have finished in the Top 5 seven times. The big difference in the standings is that Harvick didn’t finish one race.

Busch, the 2015 overall champion, nearly swept the month of April. He won at Texas, Bristol and Richmond before Joey Logano ended the streak with a victory at Talladega. Busch finished 13th at Talladega, one of only two races this year in which he was outside the Top 10. Busch was the runner-up at Martinsville the week before his streak began.

Like Busch, Harvick won three races in a row. Following the Daytona 500, Harvick, the 2014 overall champion, won three straight races. He hasn’t won since March 11, but he hasn’t disappeared from the front of the pack, either. He was the runner-up to Busch at Texas and has only finished outside the Top 5 once (finishing seventh) during the past five races.

Although Busch and Harvick have dominated the first 10 races, there are several other challengers with legitimate opportunities for victory. Larson has been runner-up twice this season, earned the pole position.

Another contender is Logano. He broke a nearly year-long victory drought last weekend at the GEICO 500 at Talladega. Even though that was his first win this season, Logano has been consistent, with nine Top 10 finishes in 10 races.

The Hendrick Motorsports duo of Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott also shouldn’t be discounted. Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR champion, loves the Monster Mile. He’s won at Dover 11 times, including this race last spring. Unfortunately for Johnson, who hasn’t won since last year’s spring Dover race, which was held in early June.

Elliott, who will start on the third row, has finished in the Top 5 in all four of his Dover races. A late pass by Busch last fall denied Elliott the victory. It’s a small sample size, but Elliott’s average finish at Dover is 3.3.

Defending overall NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr. has run particularly well at Dover the past four years. He won at Dover in 2016 and has an average finish of 5.88 in his last eight races at the Monster Mile. Truex is starting in the second row, next to Busch.

Perhaps the speculation about other drivers is pointless. Perhaps the AAA 400 Drive for Autism will come down to Busch and Harvick, the two most dominant drivers this year.

 

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