Martin Truex Jr. reminded us how dominant he can be last weekend at Auto Club Speedway. The strategy of picking one to two dominators continued to hold up at Auto Club, but that will surely change at Martinsville. Qualifying tech was a mess last weekend, and this weekend they plan to tech the cars after qualifying, so we could see some cars starting at the rear of the field again. That could open up a lot of value for Daily Fantasy, but track position is also very important here.
Just a quick reminder that this is a preview article, and I write it before we have starting positions. If you want even more in-depth information, consider my NASCAR DFS package over at the RotoGrinders Marketplace.
This weekend we have the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. It's a .528-mile short flat-banked track, and it's a 263-mile/500-lap race. It’s a three-stage race; stage one and two are 130 laps each, while the final stage is 240 laps. With it being the smallest track on the circuit, there are very few comps to look at because it’s completely different than Bristol. Bristol is a high-banked steep track, whereas Martinsville is a flat-banked track. When doing research, I like to look at the last six races at Martinsville, plus looking closer at last year’s races here with the stage. I think it’s important to look at data from the last eight flat-banked tracks as well.
Drivers To Watch
Kyle Busch – It seems like every week we go to a track where Kyle Busch excels, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched NASCAR over the last five years. Over the last five races here, Busch has led 813 laps and has 273 fastest laps. He’s averaging 115.5 DraftKings points per race in that span, while averaging 27 points per race on fast laps alone. He has five straight top five finishes, including two wins, and his driver rating is 128.3 in that span. I don’t think it matters too much this weekend on where he qualifies, as I expect him to be one of the cars to beat, and I’m surely using one of my FantasyLive spots on him.
Brad Keselowski – Like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski has been extremely good here. Over his last six races at this track, he has five top five finishes and has led 385 laps, including 379 fastest laps. He is averaging 87.5 DraftKings points in those six races and 31.5 DraftKings points from fastest laps. Keselowski has the second-highest driver rating (117.1) over the last six races here. The only race he didn’t top five in the last six races at this track was when he got into a wreck after dominating a good portion of the race. I expect him to be fast this weekend, and like Kyle Busch, I will be using him on FantasyLive.
Joey Logano – If the weather holds off on Saturday and we’re able to get qualifying in, I would be taking Joey Logano to get the pole. Over the last six races here, Logano has won four poles, and he has led at least 59 laps in three of those four races he won the pole. He has a 105.7 driver rating in that six-race span, but it doesn’t show with his average finish of 14.7. Wrecks have been an issue for Logano, but we’re here to embrace the variance and look inside the numbers; we’re not trying to predict who is going to wreck. Over the last six races here, Logano is averaging 52.75 DraftKings points, which is the fourth most in that span.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson drove from the back and captured his first top 10 of the season last weekend. He has struggled with qualifying this season and will be a very interesting play if he struggles again this weekend. Johnson has the best driver rating among active drivers here since 2005, and he has nine career wins at Martinsville. Over the last five races here, he has positive place differential in all five, and he’s averaging 56.75 DraftKings points. He’s not doing it with a lot of dominator points, but his recent struggles in qualifying have boosted up his potential for place differential points.
Austin Dillon – The Daytona 500 champ heads to one of his best tracks for fantasy production. He has never started higher than 19th here in eight career races, as he has an average starting position of 26.4. His average finish is 15.63, and he has positive place differential in seven of his eight career races here. The only race he didn’t have positive place differential was March of 2015, which was caused by an electrical issue with the car. Over the last five races here, Dillon has averaged 50.25 DraftKings points, which puts him fifth overall in that span.
Drivers Running Well
Kevin Harvick – Let’s not forget about Kevin Harvick just because he had one rough week and decided to side draft at the same time as Kyle Larson. Harvick had one of the fastest cars last weekend and could have been a contender without the issue. He has the best driver rating (113.7) over the first five races this season. He also has the fifth best driver rating (100.0) over the last six races at Martinsville, to go with a 98.0 driver rating over the last eight races on flat-banked tracks. Over the last six races here, Harvick averaging 64.5 DraftKings points per race and 17.5 DraftKings points per race on fastest laps.
Clint Bowyer – Quietly Clint Bowyer has been really good this season, and like this Stewart-Haas team, he’s been strong every week. He has an 88.2 driver rating this season after five races, and his average finish is 10.6. Career wise Clint Bowyer has been solid at Martinsville, and you can’t use the last six-race approach with him because of the equipment he was in for 2016. He finished third and seventh in two races here last season, and was able to average 44.5 DraftKings points. If I had to pick a sleeper to win this race, I would pick Clint Bowyer, though I don’t even see him as much of a sleeper this weekend.
Paul Menard – I feel like he could be in this segment every week yet he would still be underpriced for his start of the season. He has a 75.6 driver rating after five races this season, which puts him 16th overall. He is priced as the 22nd driver this weekend, and depending on where he qualifies, he can certainly move up. Menard averaged the 15th-most DraftKings points over the last five races here, and again with him being priced 22nd overall, there is room for profit on his price. It’s all going to be determined on where he qualifies this weekend, but he’s surely someone I’m looking at closely.