Podium Preview: Drydene 400 at Dover

Ordinarily, Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports are the ones to beat for the Drydene 400 at Dover. (Photo: Josh Jones/The Podium Finish)

Ordinarily, Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports are the ones to beat for the Drydene 400 at Dover. (Photo: Josh Jones/The Podium Finish)

In the long run, Hendrick Motorsports enjoys race weekends at Dover such as the case for Sunday’s Drydene 400. After all, this team, operational since 1984, possesses 20 wins at “The Monster Mile.”

Overall, 75% of the Hendrick roster accounts for this weekend’s race picks for Sunday’s race. That said, anything can happen in the Drydene 400 where “Miles the Monster” awaits for stock car mayhem.

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Adam LucasAshley HobbsCody ShoppeKobe LambethLuis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorTaylor KitchenTerra Jones and yours truly muse about this year’s throwback liveries and next year’s Next Gen cars.

Podium Preview: Drydene 400 at Dover
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Question 1
All things considered, William Byron's strong start proves quite remarkable. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

All things considered, William Byron’s strong start proves quite remarkable. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

William Byron has scored 10 consecutive top 10 finishes since his win at Homestead. Is it time to consider Byron as a serious championship threat in 2021?

Lambeth : William Byron is enjoying a quiet but strong start to the 2021 season. In such a competitive era, rolling off 10 consecutive top-10 results is not something that most of the field can claim for bragging rights. As time goes on, Byron continues to mature and improve as a Cup driver. With one win under his belt this year and maintaining a high level of consistency, he could certainly become a threat for the championship. So, do not underestimate Willy B!

Raynor : He is showing just how good he’s been getting this year and with him reuniting with Rudy, I definitely think he is a serious threat to win the championship. When Chase won last year, he was not the best by any means and was there in the end. The way the playoffs are all you have to do is get to Phoenix and any one of those four can win. Consistency is key and he’s on a role right now. 

Hobbs : Sometimes, it is the quiet ones, right? Who thought that it would be Chase Elliott lifting the championship trophy in 2020? Consistency is a big part of this sport – but so are wins. And Byron does have one of those. I think if he can get another win or two, it should make the field a bit concerned that he will be one of the final four.

Lucas : It would be a bad idea to discount the hard work the No. 24 team has done this season. These guys a consistent and persistent in their qwest for a championship title run. Dover could be a a great place for Byron & Co. to notch a win in their belts to seal their playoff spot officially (two wins are just about a lock from this point of the season onward). 

Tiongson : By all means, if fans and critics were not paying attention to William Byron, it’s time to do so now. All in all, Byron’s reunion with crew chief Rudy Fugle is paying dividends. After their win at Homestead, the No. 24 team consistently grinds out top 10 results. Even when they’ve had their off days, they still carve their way to the top 10. Recall that Byron got a top 10 last summer in the second race at Dover. Without a doubt, as long as they keep up with their ways, this bunch is ready for this year’s championship.

Jones :  Solid finishes equal points towards the Playoffs. Is he a ‘threat?’ I think to be considered that, he’ll need more than a single win and a string of top-10 finishes. But no doubt, he’s off to a very hot start and I’m excited to see where he and Rudy Fugle go with the rest of the regular season and into the Playoffs. 

Question 2
Given these points, Chase Elliott might be reading our responses in this preview! (Photo: Josh Jones/The Podium Finish)

Given these points, Chase Elliott might be reading our responses in this preview! (Photo: Josh Jones/The Podium Finish)

Dover typically treats Hendrick Motorsports quite nicely. With 20 wins at “The Monster Mile,” does this trend continue on Sunday?

Sisoler : I genuinely think it could happen. Kyle Larson has had solid runs in the past at Dover, and last time he was here, he did tame Miles the Monster. Byron has been on a solid run of form to start 2021 and has a chance here as well, but don’t count out Alex Bowman or Chase Elliott. If Elliott can find the form that made him the champion he was last year, he’s got a chance, and Bowman is sneaky. I didn’t really think about him at all headed to Richmond, and he showed up in a big way. Hendrick is a team that has seemingly found its way back to being a threat to win, week-in and week-out, so don’t count out any of the Hendrick Four come Sunday.

Shoppe : When I think about Hendrick Motorsports having a chance to win Dover today, I think Kyle Larson. Larson has had a great start to the year despite not quite closing the deal lately. The last time Larson raced at “The Monster Mile,” he won! I think he’ll have a great shot today!

Torres : I can see the trend continuing this Sunday. When you have guys that’ve been strong all throughout the season in William Byron and Kyle Larson, it’s bound to create success. Larson last won at Dover in 2019 with Chip Ganassi Racing. I’d imagine being with Hendrick Motorsports, it should lead to even better performance.

Byron may be the sleeper this Sunday. He may be the guy who can leave “The Monster Mile” with a win if things fall into his favor. It’ll be tough when you have Larson, but also Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. being so good at Dover. Those two may be the biggest threat that’ll stop HMS, but I don’t see those two winning over Larson or Byron.

What about Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman? It really boils down on which version will hit the track. Elliott has had a skid in his title defense and while I do think he’ll deliver big, I don’t see him winning. Bowman isn’t quite there yet compared to the other three, so I don’t expect him to be a threat to win, but perhaps score a top-10.

That in mind, HMS will have a strong Sunday with one of its cars visiting victory lane.

Kitchen : Though HMS has shown tremendous success at “The Monster Mile” in the past, I do not think the trend will continue for them on Sunday. 

Looking at the team as a whole, two drivers are showing great strength and consistency this season (Byron and Larson), but have not been able to seal the deal after capturing their first wins of the season. Then, there are two drivers (Bowman (who has won a race) and Elliott) that have struggled week after week to obtain stability. So, If any HMS driver has a shot, I think we have to look to William Byron and Kyle Larson.

Byron has the right consistency on his side to propel him to a win this weekend. The 24 team have finished inside the top 10 in the last 10 races, and I believe that streak will continue. Larson on the other hand has incredible statistics at this track and looks to be the favorite with a Dover win back in 2019.

All things considered, two smooth laps around Dover calls for some praises. Now, let’s rewind back to race 12 at Darlington for last Sunday’s Goodyear 400 with our race and points reports!
For sure, Hobbs had a Lou Reed type of day...a perfect day.

For sure, Hobbs had a Lou Reed type of day…a perfect day.

Presently, our points leader may be celebrating his recent graduation from college.

Presently, our points leader may be celebrating his recent graduation from college.

Next, Ashley Hobbs crunches numbers for Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover so you don’t have to at all!
First, consider how your favorite teams fare in the Drydene 400 at Dover.

First, consider how your favorite teams fare in the Drydene 400 at Dover.

Since 2004, the Drydene 400 winner has an average starting spot of 9.3, led an average of 123.9 laps, started within the top five 47.06% of the time and started within the top 10 64.71% of the time.

Since 2004, the Drydene 400 winner has an average starting spot of 9.3, led an average of 123.9 laps, started within the top five 47.06% of the time and started within the top 10 64.71% of the time.

As shown above, Chase Elliott reemphasizes Hendrick's dominance at Dover.

As shown above, Chase Elliott reemphasizes Hendrick’s dominance at Dover.

Now, consider the trends for the past 10 Drydene 400 races at Dover.

Now, consider the trends for the past 10 Drydene 400 races at Dover.

Next, the trends in the past five Drydene 400 races indicate a long green flag run for the finish.

Next, the trends in the past five Drydene 400 races indicate a long green flag run for the finish.

Clearly, the machine loves Elliott.

Clearly, the machine loves Elliott.

Lastly, here are our picks for Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover!
In this case, let's present a quartet of talented picks for Sunday's Drydene 400 at Dover.

In this case, let’s present a quartet of talented picks for Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover.

Tiongson : It’s time to acknowledge how William Byron and his No. 24 team are ready to contend for the championship. A team and driver don’t luck into a terrific top 10 finishing streak. They’re good and solid because they’ve got the complete package. Look for Byron to reward his team with a win at Dover on Sunday.

Lucas : Mr. Consistent William Byron capitalizes with win number two this season!

Jones : He was the first to two wins. The first to three. Martin Truex Jr will dominate for the second weekend in a row, defeat Miles the Monster, and be the first to four wins in 2021.

Kitchen : All eyes will be on Kyle Larson this weekend but I think an obvious choice many might overlook is Martin Truex Jr. He has a great average finish at this track and seems to be the only driver to have a race winning car and actually get it to victory lane. MTJ has won three races at this track, his last win coming from 2019. Fresh off a win at Darlington, I think Truex is the man to get it done at “The Monster Mile.”

TPF Stats : Chase Elliott, defending series champion, will finally break through by conquering “The Monster Mile” this weekend.

Hobbs : After an up and down season so far, defending series champion, Chase Elliott, is still searching for that checkered flag. Dover happens to be one of Elliot’s best tracks. So what better way to break through with a victory than this weekend.

Lambeth : 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is the only Hendrick Motorsports driver, who has not made it to victory lane in 2021. Look for Elliott to finally join the HMS winner’s circle by taming the Monster Mile this weekend!

Torres : Last time Kyle Larson was at Dover, he won in tremendous fashion. The way he has performed at Hendrick Motorsports, I feel Larson won’t skip a beat. There may be a sense of urgency after coming up short of crashing Martin Truex Jr’s dominance last Sunday. I see this Sunday as roles reversed. Larson will beat Truex and become the second repeat winner of 2021.

Shoppe : Kyle Larson will seal the deal after some near misses lately! As one of the strongest teams early in 2021 and being a winner the last time he raced in Dover, Larson will be a contender today!

Sisoler : Simple logic here tells me Kyle Larson is gonna be the winner Sunday. The last time he was at Dover, he put the Chip Ganassi No. 42 car in victory lane, leading 38.5 percent (154 of 400 laps) of the race in the process. Now, he’s in, arguably, the quickest Chevrolet team in the field, a team that has won 20 times here. Being able to tame Miles the Monster pretty effectively in its existence for Hendrick Motorsports.

Rolling off fourth, he is going to be a contender for stage wins Sunday before he brings that No. 5 Camaro home a race winner for Mr. H for the second time in 2021.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Drydene 400 at Dover!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into this race? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family, and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

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Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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