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Brad Keselowski
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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

First Data 500 Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 23, 2019, 5:04 pm ET

This spring the STP 500 resulted with nearly half the field finishing within three spots of where we predicted they would.

Short, flat tracks are rhythm courses and it pays to dividends to look at how drivers have fared there in recent seasons. More than half a dozen drivers in the field have long streaks of top-10s in the last five seasons. When they occasionally slip, they rebound quickly.

Last year six drivers swept the top 10 at Martinsville: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott each followed that up with another top-10 this spring. They are all near the top of this week’s list as well. Joey Logano was the only driver who failed to back up last year’s strength.

When one looks at the other short tracks of less than a mile in length, patterns quickly emerge. Denny Hamlin, Busch, and Clint Bowyer have each been perfect on this track type in 2019. Keselowski and Daniel Suarez have come close, while a few others have streaks of top-15s.


1. Kyle Busch
This could be the week that Busch snaps his winless streak. He's been perfect at Martinsville since fall 2015 with an eight-race streak of top-fives on this bullring.

2. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin has long been regarded as one of the short track masters and this season he has swept the top five. Highlighting this streak is a victory at Bristol under the lights.

3. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski has a top-five record that rivals Busch's in recent years at Martinsville. Since 2015, he has two wins, seven total top-fives, and a 10th.  He's the defending winner from this spring.

4. Kevin Harvick
The media has been oddly quiet about Harvick for most of the playoffs, but he continues to run well. With the exception of Talladega, he has a sweep of the top 10 dating back to Southern 500.

5. Martin Truex Jr.
There is some unfinished business that requires Truex's attention at Martinsville. He almost won his first-ever short track race there last fall and wants the victory badly this week.

6. Ryan Blaney
In his first three starts at Martinsville, Blaney had a best finish of 19th. Three of his last four have ended in top-10s, however, including a fourth this spring in the STP 500.

7. Chase Elliott
Elliott did not get off to a particularly strong start at Martinsville, but he turned a corner with a third in spring 2017. Since then, he's scored three more top-10s in his last four starts.

8. Clint Bowyer
Expectations are more realistic now that Bowyer is out of the playoffs. With the pressure off his shoulders, it is likely that Bowyer will keep his perfect streak of short track top-10s alive.

9. Joey Logano
Logano has been streaky at Martinsville. He swept the top five there in three races from spring 2014 till the next spring. He posted back-to-back top-10s in 2016/2017 and swept the top 10 last year, but he also has four results outside the top 10 in that span of races.

10. Jimmie Johnson
It has been a while since Johnson scored a top-10 at Martinsville, but he has momentum on his side this week and two other top-10s on short tracks in 2019.

11. Daniel Suarez
Fantasy owners need to pay attention to consistency: Suarez has finished between eighth and 11th in seven of his last 10 short track races.

12. Ryan Newman
Newman struggled this spring at Martinsville and finished only 23rd. His last four attempts on short tracks ended 11th or better, however.

13. Kurt Busch
Dating back to an 11th-place finish last year in the spring Richmond race, Busch has alternated top-10 finishes with results outside that mark on short tracks. If the pattern holds, he is due to finish in the top 10 this week.

14. Kyle Larson
Anything better than 15th will be a solid showing for Larson at Martinsville because he's done that only twice in 11 previous attempts.

15. William Byron
While Byron is improving across the board, short tracks have not been very kind. He has only two top-15s in his last 11 races on this track type.

16. Aric Almirola
Almirola got off to a good start on short tracks with a ninth-place finish in the STP 500. He hasn't cracked the top 15 on this track type since.

17. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto has been extremely valuable on drivers' tracks. He nearly won a couple of months back in Bristol's Night Race.

18. Paul Menard
Racing is a zero sum game, so while some of the drivers in the field have been much better in their second attempts on short tracks, Menard has fallen from the top 15 to outside the top 20 this season.

19. Austin Dillon
Dillon swept the top 15 in his first three short track attempts with a best of sixth in Richmond and an 11th at Martinsville. His last two attempts on this track landed outside the top 20.

20. Bubba Wallace
Wallace got off to a terrible start at Martinsville last year with a pair of 34th-place finishes in his rookie season. He improved to 17th this spring, however, and has an average of 18th on short tracks in 2019.

21. Alex Bowman
Bowman was a solid value last year on short tracks with three top-10s. So far this year, he's failed to finish that well in the first five races. This is his last opportunity to add a top-10 in 2019.

22. Ty Dillon
Dillon finished in the top 15 in his first two short track races this season, including a 13th at Martinsville. In five starts, he has finished worse than 21st only once time.

23. Ryan Preece
Preece has been a decent value on short tracks several times this year with a 16th at Martinsville in the spring, an 18th at Bristol this summer, and a 20th in the first Richmond rumble.

24. Chris Buescher
Before finishing 31st in the Federated 400, Buescher was one of the most consistent short track racers with results ranging from 17th to 22nd this season.

25. Daniel Hemric
Hemric has been all over the board on short tracks with results ranging from 12th through 30th. Two of his last three attempts ended in top-20s, so he may be improving.

26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Flat tracks are not where one associates Roush greatness, but Stenhouse has top-15s at Phoenix and in both Richmond races this season.

27. Erik Jones
Jones' short track season has been nothing short of frustrating with only one top-20 in five starts and an average of 25.6.

28. David Ragan
Whether he is a good value will depend on where Ragan qualifies. He's been consistent on short tracks this year with four of his five attempts landing between 19th and 28th. Ragan was 26th at Martinsville this spring.

29. Matt Tifft
In his first four short track races at the Cup level, Tifft finished either 27th or 29th. He finally got his first top-20 at Richmond a few weeks ago and may be a driver to watch if he practices well.

30. Landon Cassill
With the exception of a 35th-place finish at Richmond this spring, Cassill has been constant on short tracks with four results ranging from 25th to 28th.

31. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie ran both Martinsville races in 2017 and showed back up this spring. His best finish on this track so far was a 28th in his first appearance.

32. JJ Yeley
Yeley could be a pleasant surprise this week. He cracked the top 30 at Bristol with his 28th-place finish and could move up via attrition if he stays out of trouble at Martinsville.

33. Michael McDowell
In his latest attempt on a short track, McDowell nearly cracked the top 20 with a 21st at Richmond. None of his other efforts on courses less than a mile in length have been in the top 25.

34. Ross Chastain
Chastain has run well a number of times this year, but he has not been at his best on short tracks. In five starts on courses less than a mile in length, his best effort netted a 26th at Bristol.

35. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson did not compete on short courses in the first half of the year and he hasn't exactly burned up the track in the second half with a best of 37th at Richmond.

36. Timmy Hill
Hill has one previous start on short tracks this year with a 35th at Bristol. He closed out 2018 with three attempts, however, and finished with a best of 38th.

Rick Ware Racing
The 51 and 52 cars do not have a driver named just yet as this organization continues to open up its rides for developmental drivers.

 

Drivers Most Accurately
Predicted This Year

 

Avg.
Difference

Times Within 3

 

Landon Cassill

4.8

16

Ross Chastain

5.0

14

David Ragan

5.0

12

Martin Truex Jr.

5.2

14

Matt Tifft

5.3

16

Paul Menard

6.0

11

Ty Dillon

6.0

13

Chris Buescher

6.0

12

Denny Hamlin

6.6

17

Aric Almirola

6.7

18

Kevin Harvick

6.7

14

 

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.