The NASCAR Sprint Cup series moves back east to Martinsville Speedway for the sixth race of the season, the STP 500. NASCAR Fantasy expert Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, March 29; 1:13 p.m./et.
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high around 57; wind out of the SW at 8 mph. There is a ZERO percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: The Half Mile Paperclip
Martinsville Speedway is a half mile paperclip shaped track with intermediate 12 degree banking on the turns. It is a smaller version of New Hampshire Motor Speedway so teams often use the same car and a similar setup at both tracks. Drivers that are successful at NHMS often run well at Martinsville.
Key to Race: JIMMIE, JEFF, and DENNY
NASCAR returns from its West Coast swing to a track that heavily relies on driver skill. At Martinsville often the driver can make more of a difference than the car. That being said Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin have combined to win 18 of the last 22 races at the track. If it isn't a member of this threesome taking the checkers we will be surprised. Kurt Busch and Dale Junior won one of Martinsville’s famous Grandfather Clock last year and are also strong picks to do it again.
46 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has eight career wins at Martinsville. He will crack the top five and is a great choice to win.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson also has eight wins at Martinsville. We expect the No. 48 team could be headed back to Victory Lane to claim yet another one of Martinsville’s Grandfather Clocks.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior won last fall’s race at M’ville and has finished in the top seven in 16 of his 30 career starts at the track. He should notch another top seven finish this weekend.
No. 4 Kevin Harvick: Harvick notched yet another top-two finish last weekend at Fontana. He has been decent at Martinsville during his career, but we are going to bet his streak of top-two finishes ends his weekend.
No. 41 Kurt Busch: Busch won at Martinsville last spring. The way he has driven the first two races of his season makes him a great choice this weekend.
6 to 10
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski used smart pit strategy and a few questionable debris cautions to win last weekend at Fontana. He has averaged a 13th place finish at M’ville during his career. We like his chances to improve on his average this trip to Virginia.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has been great on flat-tracks during his career. He should have the No. 11 inside the top 10 when the dust settles.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano has been very good this year and at M’ville during his career. He is worth using in most leagues.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has cracked the top 11 in 13 of his last 16 starts at Martinsville. We love his chances on Sunday.
No. 19 Carl Edwards: Edwards cracked the top 10 in five of the last 13 races at Martinsville. He should accomplish it once again this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 31 Ryan Newman: Newman won the 2012 spring race at M’ville and has qualified inside the top 10 in 17 of his 25 Cup starts at the track. He should be near the front all day.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has just three top five finishes in 29 Cup starts at Martinsville. He isn’t a tremendous option this weekend.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has led just 30 laps in 21 career starts at Martinsville. He isn’t a great choice this weekend.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has finished in the top 10 in 13 of his 24 career Martinsville starts. This is a nice weekend to use the No. 1 car.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson has struggled so far at Martinsville during his career. There are better weekends to use the talented youngster.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: A-Dub has run strong at M’ville in the past. He is an option in all leagues.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: “Smoke” has captured the Martinsville Clock three times in his career and eaten enough Martinsville hot dogs to feed a small country. He will eat plenty of the hot dogs this weekend, even if they are no longer Jesse Jones brand, but he is a risky pick to visit victory lane.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has just five top 10 finishes in 23 career starts at Martinsville. There are far better weekends to use The Biff.
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger has averaged a 19th place finish at Martinsville during his career. He will finish better than his average this trip.
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. has run well at Martinsville in just three of the last 10 races. Even with the success he has shown to begin this season we can’t recommend him this weekend.
21 to 30
No. 18 David Ragan: Ragan has had past success at Martinsville and he appears to be settling into the No. 18 car. We like his chances this weekend.
No. 3 Austin Dillon: The No. 3 drove well at M’ville last season. He isn’t a bad choice.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has been terrific so far in the 2015 campaign and M’ville has been a decent track for him in the past. We like him as a sleeper pick this week.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has averaged a 21st place finish at Martinsville during his career. He is definitely worth using in deep fantasy leagues.
No. 25 Chase Elliott: Elliott, the defending Xfinity Series champ attempts to make his Cup debut in the No. 25 Hendrick Chevy. The kid has tons of talent, but the “Paperclip” is a tough place to make a debut.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse appeared to figure out Martinsville during last year’s fall visit to the track. He is still just a poor option.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick has averaged a 24th place finish at M’ville during her career. She will finish right around her average this weekend.
No. 9 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish has been below average at Martinsville for most of his career. We expect the trend will continue.
No. 55 Brett Moffitt: Moffitt will remain in the No. 55 car this weekend while Brian Vickers receives treatment for blood clots. Moffitt will have some struggles at the difficult Martinsville configuration.
No. 51 Justin Allgaier: Allgaier could make a little noise this weekend.
No. 6 Trevor Bayne
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 35 Cole Whitt
No. 7 Alex Bowman
No. 46 Michael Annett
No. 32 Mike Bliss
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 98 Josh Wise
No. 23 J.J. Yeley
No. 62 Brendan Gaughan
No. 26 Jeb Burton
No. 30 Ron Hornaday Jr.
No. 34 Chris Buescher
No. 83 Matt Dibenedetto
No. 33 Alex Kennedy
No. 44 TBA
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
B. Kurt Busch
B. Clint Bowyer