The NASCAR Cup Series is back in action and ready to take on Martinsville Speedway Saturday night (April 10) for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500. Frontstretch.com's Joy Tomlinson is back and gets your NASCAR DraftKings rosters set for short track racing!
Martinsville is a .526-mile oval shaped like a paperclip with tight corners and short straightaways. There's not a lot of room to run, so you can expect quite a bit of contact. But somehow, drivers make their way through traffic and a 500-lap game of bumper cars to finish here.
If you look at where recent winners started at this track, you'll find that 10 of the last 11 began the race within the top 10. However, the last time the pole sitter won at Martinsville was in 2013. If this trend continues, you'll likely want to have someone who starts inside the top 10 in your lineup.
But there are also bonus points for laps led and fastest laps. At this Virginia track, at least one driver is likely to lead 100 or more circuits. and in each race last year, one racer led over 200 laps while another led over 100. Whoever has the advantage of track position, along with quality restarts will produce a high DraftKings score this week.
Before I continue to my picks, I'll review the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race.
Let's just say my roster didn't go as expected (as the lineup only scored 58.7 fantasy points). Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell wrecked, both not finishing well, while Anthony Alfredo crashed out early. It would've been better if I had a more balanced lineup than one that included two $10,000-plus drivers.
190.3 points were needed to cash the $1 single entry double up, while 210.45 earned $1.43 in the $1 Happy Hour tournament.
DraftKings lowered the points for each fastest lap to 0.45 this season, as well as the points awarded for first place to 45. DraftKings has also put more emphasis on drivers who finish inside the top 10 and top 20. For example, the gap between 10th and 11th place is now two points instead of one: 10th gets 34 points, while 11th gets 32, etc.
Note: the following is a sample DraftKings lineup from Joy Tomlinson; you can use the information to create your own.
Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Plays/Sample Lineup for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,000)
Career at Martinsville: 30 starts, 2 wins, 7 top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 17.0
Last year, it appeared Martinsville was named after Truex, as he led 132 laps en route to victory in June and nearly took the fall playoff race before hard-charging Chase Elliott charged ahead in the final stage. As the laps wound down, Truex felt like he had a loose wheel and pitted, putting him one lap down and out of the playoffs. Still, he had led 129 laps prior to those unfortunate events.
The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pilot also dominated the fall 2019 event, leading 464 laps to secure a spot in the Championship 4. This year, he won his first Phoenix Raceway event after leading 64 circuits, and two weeks ago, he held the top spot for 126 laps before a flat tire left him mired back in 19th. Add that all up and it's a whole lot of fantasy points for your roster.
Truex is sure to have another fast car this weekend. The high price is worth it if he dominates once again.
Joey Logano ($10,700)
Career at Martinsville: 24 starts, 1 win, 8 top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 12.4
Logano became Joe Dirt at Bristol after he led 61 laps en route to the victory. The seventh different Cup winner this season also recorded 20 fastest laps on the dirt. Additionally, he led 143 laps at Phoenix last month before Truex passed him late in the race. A similar sequence happened at the Daytona International Speedway road course this February where Bell drove by Logano within the final two laps to secure his first Cup win. Both of these tracks used the same package that will be used at Martinsville, so it sure looks like Logano will do well once again this week (especially since he’s starting on the pole).
The No. 22 Team Penske driver also has done well at Martinsville, though he only has one win, coming in 2018. Logano has four top fives and seven top 10s in the past nine races here, though and has led 648 total laps in that span. In fall 2018, he led 309 circuits on the way to victory, and led 234 laps last June before finishing fourth. It’s this kind of domination you need for your DraftKings lineup.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800)
Career at Martinsville: 12 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 26.4
DiBenedetto is a curious case, as he’s only earned top-20 finishes in the past four races at Martinsville. However, a lot of those previous starts came with underfunded teams. Now that he’s with Wood Brothers Racing, DiBenedetto is much more competitive, earning a seventh and 10th in the two events held last season. When you’re looking to set yourself apart from others in a tournament, sometimes you will want to shoot for those who quietly finish in the top 10.
After having a rough start to 2021, Guido has ended 16th or better in each of the last four races. Though he’s been more consistent lately, his starting position is 22nd this week. I would take advantage of that, especially since he has a salary below $8,000.
Bubba Wallace ($7,300)
Career at Martinsville: 6 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 21.7
Wallace will start 25th on Saturday, which is pretty good for his equipment thus far in the Cup Series. The last time he began 25th this year was at Phoenix where he gained nine positions and scored 38.8 DraftKings points.
Though the No. 23 Toyota pilot for 23XI Racing has yet to record his first top 10 at the paperclip, he did finish better than where he began in each of the past four races there. In 2019, he passed nine and 13 cars in the spring and fall events, respectively. Then, in June 2020, he earned his highest finish of 11th, even without practice or qualifying. Imagine how well he might do this week in better equipment than Richard Petty Motorsports.
Ross Chastain ($6,300)
Career at Martinsville: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 30.2
Chastain drove for Premium Motorsports from 2018-2019 and finished 29th three times, which is OK considering there were 38 or 40 cars in those three events. But this season, he’s in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing entry, which is far better equipment than Premium. He has three top 20s so far, including a 19th at Phoenix and a 14th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’ll start 27th this week, which could put him in harm's way if there's trouble back in the pack early on.
But Chastain does have experience at Martinsville in the Xfinity Series. He led 31 laps before ending in fifth last season driving for Kaulig Racing. Though Cup races differently than NXS, he could still use some of that experience to propel him to the front. And besides, the Floridian's cheap enough to allow you to fit some of the higher-priced drivers.
Dark Horse Performer
Justin Haley ($5,400)
Xfinity Series career at Martinsville: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Xfinity average finish at Martinsville: 12.0
Haley was Chastain’s teammate last year in NXS and ended 12th at Martinsville last year. However, Haley’s in much different equipment this time around in the Cup Series, as he’ll pilot the No. 77 car for Spire Motorsports from 30th place.
All you need from someone with this salary is just a few positions gained. Well, Haley gained five spots at Phoenix and scored 23 DraftKings points. Though it seems small, it will help your lineup when placed with lap leaders and dominators.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)