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Jimmie Johnson
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Cap Considerations

Draft Kings: First Data 500

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 26, 2019, 1:09 pm ET

The second short track race of the playoffs is about to get underway and no one truly knows what to expect. The playoff contenders each have an opportunity to lock themselves into the championship finale and last year Joey Logano showed just how much that meant when he moved Martin Truex Jr. out of the groove on the final corner of the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

That bump-and-run is fresh in everyone’s mind.

Martinsville has also become a place to settle grudges. It doesn’t matter if the driver is typically mild-mannered, this is one of the last chances to insure that ‘justice’ prevails. Will Truex dump Logano? Will Logano launch a preemptive strike? In 2015, Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecked Logano to make his path to Homestead-Miami Speedway much more difficult. Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott have had a memorable run-in on this track as well. The gloves will be off this week.


Typically when there are unknowns like this, we suggest spreading the wealth around. When accidents happen, there is often collateral damage that can wipe out expensive and cheap drivers alike. But Martinsville is a rhythm track where five drivers have current three-race, top-10 streaks and several others have been almost perfect for the past three seasons.

Somehow the cream always seems to rise to the top.

Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Kyle Busch ($11,800)
Busch will cost an arm and a leg this week and make for some difficult decisions in the cap ranges below, but the odds are great that he is going to earn maximum points this week. Not only does Busch have the longest active streak of top-10 finishes at eight, but they have all been top-fives and nearly all of them have come with a positive differential attached. If you are going to take anyone at this level, you may as well splurge on Busch because he is liable to snap his winless streak at Martinsville.

Group B: (Between $9,800 and $8,500)

Clint Bowyer ($8,900)
Only three drivers have been perfect on short tracks this year. Busch costs $11,800 and Denny Hamlin costs $11,000. Bowyer is a bargain that can be had for less than $9k. He’s less likely to score a top-five that his two more expensive rivals, but based on his last two seasons it seems unlikely that he will fail to get a top-10. Dating back to a third-place finish at Martinsville in fall 2017, Bowyer has failed to crack the top 10 only once in 12 starts on tracks less than a mile in length.

Brad Keselowski ($9,800)
Disappointment can galvanize a driver. Keselowski’s Round of 12 was a nightmare without a single top-10 and an average of 18.3. His Round of 16 featured a sweep of the top five, however, and he has not forgotten how to drive. Keselowski will be determined to show his resiliency this week on a track where he has a record that rivals the most expensive driver in the field. For $2,300 less than Busch, fantasy players can sign a driver with one fewer top-five in the last seven Martinsville races. That will make Keselowski a great value proposition.

Group C: (Between $8,300 and $7,300)

Jimmie Johnson ($8,100)
As improbable as it might have once seemed for a driver with nine wins on this track, Johnson has actually struggled a little at Martinsville. His last victory came in 2016 and he has not cracked the top 10 on the paperclip since. He’s come close on a couple of occasions with 12th-place results in his last two fall attempts. Equally important, he has momentum on his side with four top-10s and an 11th in the last six races. Johnson should easily contend for a top-five this week if he gets track position in the closing laps and it is not out of the question that he could end his 91-race winless streak this week.

Daniel Suarez ($7,300)
Suarez has six top-10s and an 11th in his last 11 short track races; two of these came at Martinsville with a ninth last fall and a 10th this spring. Since the start of 2018, he has not finished worse than 18th on a track less than a mile in length and his average if 12.36. If he can match that average, he is going to be one of the top values this week. Better still, he’s likely to be overlooked by the competition because his average points-per-thousand during the past 45 days has been an uninspiring 1.7. That will make him a great differentiator on your lineup with a manageable downside.

Group D: (Between $7,100 and $6,100)

Bubba Wallace ($6,100)
Wallace finished 17th in this spring’s STP 500 and then struggled for the next two races on short tracks with results in the 20s. He rebounded in the second appearances at Bristol and Richmond with a pair of top-15s. Wallace finished 14th in the Night Race at Bristol and was 12th in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond. Can he replicate those results? Probably. And even if he does not, a top-20 at this level is acceptable.

Paul Menard ($7,100)
Menard got off to a strong start on short tracks in 2019 with a sweep of the top 15 in his first three races. His last two efforts have not been nearly as impressive with a 23rd at Bristol and a 27th at Richmond, but with only four races remaining in his fulltime career, we are banking on Menard putting everything he has into running well this week. Menard has managed to crack the top 10 twice at Martinsville during his career and this is a course on which the Wood Brothers have excelled in the past.  

Group E: (Less than or equal to $5,900)

Matt Tifft ($5,300)
UPDATE:
Tifft visited the infield care center Saturday morning and was transported to a local hospital for an undisclosed illness. Matt Craft practiced his car and will qualify it later in the day. If Tifft races, he will drop to the back because of the driver change. If he does not start the race, he will not earn points. It will be best to move onto the next driver on your list. 

There aren’t a lot of good values in the bargain bin this week, so we will go strictly by the numbers. Among the full time drivers, Tifft has the best average finish on short tracks this year with a 26.4. Landon Cassill ($5,200) is next with a 28.4, followed by Corey LaJoie ($5,600) at 29.2. Tifft has also added place-differential points in four of his five short track races of 2018. The only time he did not was in the Night Race at Bristol when he started and finished 27th.

The top-10 points’ earners from this spring were: Brad Keselowski (199), Chase Elliott (100.25), Ryan Blaney (69), Kyle Busch (63), Austin Dillon (62.5), Clint Bowyer (54), Denny Hamlin (50.5), Kevin Harvick (49.5), Ty Dillon (45.5), and Martin Truex Jr. (42).

Greatest Place-differential Points: Austin Dillon (18), Ryan Blaney (13), William Byron (12), and Kyle Busch (10).

NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

 

Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group

Denny Hamlin

6.50

430.00

71.67

$11,000

          6.52

A

Martin Truex Jr.

8.67

383.50

63.92

$11,400

          5.61

A

Kevin Harvick

8.67

310.75

51.79

$10,500

          4.93

A

Kyle Busch

13.50

316.75

52.79

$11,800

          4.47

A

Joey Logano

15.17

249.75

41.63

$10,100

          4.12

A

 

Kyle Larson

13.17

276.75

46.13

$9,100

          5.07

B

Brad Keselowski

13.50

243.50

40.58

$9,500

          4.27

B

Chase Elliott

14.17

247.00

41.17

$9,800

          4.20

B

Ryan Blaney

15.83

200.50

33.42

$9,300

          3.59

B

Clint Bowyer

17.17

178.00

29.67

$8,900

          3.33

B

Kurt Busch

22.33

124.25

20.71

$8,500

          2.44

B

Erik Jones

29.83

44.75

7.46

$8,700

          0.86

B

 

Matt DiBenedetto

14.33

222.75

37.13

$7,800

          4.76

C

William Byron

16.00

194.50

32.42

$8,000

          4.05

C

Alex Bowman

16.17

193.75

32.29

$8,300

          3.89

C

Ryan Newman

18.83

159.25

26.54

$7,500

          3.54

C

Jimmie Johnson

18.00

162.25

27.04

$8,100

          3.34

C

Aric Almirola

20.33

151.00

25.17

$7,600

          3.31

C

Daniel Suarez

26.83

74.50

12.42

$7,300

          1.70

C

 

Ty Dillon

14.00

208.75

34.79

$6,200

          5.61

D

Austin Dillon

17.17

186.25

31.04

$6,700

          4.63

D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.17

191.25

31.88

$7,000

          4.55

D

Paul Menard

17.17

185.00

30.83

$7,100

          4.34

D

Bubba Wallace

20.33

157.75

26.29

$6,100

          4.31

D

Ryan Preece

23.00

156.00

26.00

$6,600

          3.94

D

Chris Buescher

23.33

134.50

22.42

$6,900

          3.25

D

Daniel Hemric

27.33

79.25

13.21

$6,400

          2.06

D

 

Ross Chastain

21.33

155.50

25.92

$5,400

          4.80

E

Corey LaJoie

22.33

153.50

25.58

$5,600

          4.57

E

Michael McDowell

20.83

155.50

25.92

$5,900

          4.39

E

Matt Tifft

22.33

138.00

23.00

$5,300

          4.34

E

Landon Cassill

23.50

122.75

20.46

$5,200

          3.93

E

JJ Yeley

25.25

68.00

17.00

$5,100

          3.33

E

BJ McLeod

27.00

32.00

16.00

$4,800

          3.33

E

Reed Sorenson

29.67

74.50

12.42

$5,000

          2.48

E

Timmy Hill

30.50

21.50

10.75

$4,900

          2.19

E

Garrett Smithley

31.00

41.00

10.25

$4,700

          2.18

E

David Ragan

29.33

65.50

10.92

$5,800

          1.88

E

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.