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Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - STP 500
Chris Durell will be bringing you his weekly race breakdown, top trends, and pre-qualifying targets to help you cash on DraftKings and FanDuel. You can also grab a copy of his free DFS NASCAR Cheatsheet that includes a ton of stats and a customizable model.
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Martinsville Speedway - Martinsville, VA
Track - .526 Mile Oval Short Track(12° of Banking)
This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the first short track race of the season, the STP 500. With that, we are back to the short track rules package which consists of just the rear spoiler without the air ducts and tapered spacer. If you are looking for exciting bumper to bumper racing, this is the race for you. It could also be redemption time for Martin Truex Jr. who has bumped out of the way on the last lap by Joey Logano during the playoffs. At the time Truex said "He may have won the battle but he won't win the war!". Technically, Truex was wrong as Logano went on to win the Championship in Homestead a few weeks later.
For fantasy, dominator points are at the top of the list this week with 500 laps in the race. Looking at the last six races here, there have been multiple drivers to lead 100 or more laps in five straight races and there have been three drivers to do so in two of the last three. As always, qualifying will determine how much place differential value there is but there has not been more than seven drivers to pick up double-digit in the last six races. In fact, last year we saw just five in the fall race and there in the spring race to pick up double-digit place differential.
With that, let's jump in and take a look at the previous winners, some track history, and then dig into the pre-qualifying picks.
Last Six Winners at Martinsville
- 2018 Fall - Joey Logano(started 10th, led 309 laps)
- 2018 Spring - Clint Bowyer(started 9th, led 215 laps)
- 2017 Fall - Kyle Busch(started 14th, led 184 laps)
- 2017 Spring - Brad Keselowski(started 4th, led 116 laps)
- 2016 Fall - Jimmie Johnson(started 3rd, led 92 laps)
- 2016 Spring - Kyle Busch(started 7th, led 352 laps)
Track History at Martinsville
No driver has been as dominant here at Martinsville like Kyle Busch over the last couple years. In those four races, he has a win(2017), a series-leading 582 laps led, and is the only driver to finish all four races inside the Top 5.
Brad Keselowski has not been far off with a win here in the Spring of 2017 and is the only other driver other than Busch with a Top 10 in each of the last four races(two years).
Seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with nine Grandfather Clocks, his most recent in the playoffs in 2016 but has not finished Top 10 here in four straight coming into this race.
Denny Hamlin has been up and down here in recent years with a 2nd and 7th in the last two fall races but 12th and 30th in the last two Spring races. When looking at it from a career standpoint, Denny is second to Johnson with his five wins, 19 Top 10's, and 9.8 career average finish.
Martinsville was never one of Martin Truex Jr's best tracks but he has sure been consistent here lately with three straight Top 5 finishes and has a Top 10 in six of his last eight races here.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the ultimate GPP play as he was terrible here last year with a 19th and 37th place finish but shined in 2017 with two 10th place finishes.
On the value end of the salary this week, Chris Buescher stands out as he returns to Martinsville with four straight Top 25 finishes including a 13th here in the most recent playoff race.
Track Type History(Short Tracks)
Looking at the short track results from the last two years, it has been Kyle Busch most frequently visiting Victory Lane with five wins in the 12 races. He has eight total Top 5 finishes, a 7.8 average finish, and KB18 leads all active drivers in that time with 1,018 laps led.
Joey Logano is the only other driver over those 12 races with multiple wins including his last lap pass of Martin Truex Jr. during last seasons playoffs. He has also been extremely consistent on short tracks with a series-leading 7.3 average finish over the last two years.
Kevin Harvick has not won on a short track since Bristol in 2016 but has Top 10 finishes in seven straight and 10 of his last 12 short track races.
Martin Truex Jr. has been very up and down on short tracks and is still seeking win #1 on the track type but don't count him out as a dominator. Since the September Richmond race in 2016, he has led 100+ laps in a race six times twice coming just short of 200 in a race(Richmond 2016, 2017).
Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin join the above names as the only other two drivers with a sub 10.0 average finish over the last two years on short tracks.
With his 53rd Cup win at Auto Club Speedway last week, Kyle Busch is now just one win behind Lee Petty for 10th all-time. He also remains on top of my rankings last the first driver this season with multiple wins and the only driver with a Top 10 in all five races. In fact, he has yet to finish a race outside of the 6th finishing position. Impressive even for the haters!
It was another impressive outing for Team Penske as Joey Logano was 2nd, Brad Keselowski was 3rd, and Ryan Blaney, after three straight finishes outside the Top 20, has put together back to back Top 5's.
Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola continue to lead the way for the Stewart-Haas Racing Fords. After both got caught up in a crash at the Daytona 500, they have rebounded in a big way with four straight Top 10 finishes each. Harvick has been slightly better as he has three Top 5's in that time as well.
Much like Harvick and Almirola, Martin Truex Jr. was caught up in a crash at Daytona and rebounded with four straight TOp 10's but has not been his dominant self leading just four laps on the season. Regardless, he sits inside the Top 10 in points after five races. His teammate Denny Hamlin has been one of the most consistent drivers this season winning the Daytona 500 and finishing 11th or better in every other race with three straight Top 10's.
Pre Qualifying/Practice Targets
How high will KB18's price go? My guess is higher yet and for good reason as Kyle is on one of his streaks and doesn't appear to be stopped anytime soon. He has two wins so far this season and is the only driver with four Top 5's and a Top 10 in every race. Going back to Phoenix in the Playoffs, he has finished 6th or better in seven straight races including three wins. Looking at just his Martinsville performance, Kyle has finished Top 5 here in seven straight races at the paperclip with two wins. He checks every box this week once again and is my top pre-qualifying target to build around.
Team Penske(Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney)
As of now, in the lineups I fade Kyle Busch, I will be loading up on the Team Penske drivers. Both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski enter this week with a win apiece this season and both have three Top 5's in the five races. Ryan Blaney started off slow with three finishes outside the Top 20 but has rebounded in a big way with back to back Top 5;s at Phoenix and Fontana. All three have been terrific here at Martinsville as well with Keselowski having finished Top 10 in six straight including a win(Spring 2017) and five Top 5's. Logano won the playoff race here in October and has Top 10 finishes in four of his last five races at the paperclip. Blaney finished 20th here in the playoffs but had tallied a 3rd in the Spring race last year and an 8th in the 2017 playoff race.
If you are looking for value but also winning upside, consider fan favorite Chase Elliott. He has just one Top 10 on the season(Las Vegas) but returns to Martinsville after posting back to back Top 10's here a year ago and would have four straight Top 10 and maybe even win if not for Denny Hamlin taking him out back in the 2017 playoff race. The decision will be a little closer on FanDuel where he is 7th in pricing but on DraftKings at 12th in pricing, he is definitely a part of my pre-qualifying core.
Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for five years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is an active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jager_Bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.
- NASCAR Phoenix Auto Racing: (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)