NASCAR decided to make this weekend’s schedule for the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway a condensed one, which means same-day qualifying–and explains why the following article is shorter than usual. Races here at “The Paperclip” are often won by a few familiar faces, and as far as drivers getting large amounts of place differential points, it’s definitely possible. Just as an example, we saw A.J. Allmendinger start 30th here back in April and end up finishing 6th. For that to happen, though, a driver needs not only a good handling race car, but also some good fortune on restarts, as the inside line has a major advantage when the race goes back green.
Give me a follow on Twitter: @FanRacingOnline
My team points last week (Kansas 2): 178
Overall team standings: 8th
Total team points for the season: 5,851
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for the 2017 First Data 500 Race
Kyle Busch ($11,400) – Surprisingly, Kyle Busch missed the final round of qualifying today and will start from 14th when the First Data 500 goes green. And because of that, Rowdy is one of the best options in FOX Fantasy Auto, even at his high salary of $11,400. Kyle Busch is currently on a four-race streak of top 5 finishes here at Martinsville Speedway, and over the last three he has led a combined total of over 600 laps. This weekend, the #18 Toyota was one of, if not the best car during the practice sessions on Saturday, and once Rowdy gets to the front today, he’s going to be hard to beat.
Matt Kenseth ($10,600) – Matt Kenseth is another driver who had a disappointing effort in qualifying (he wound up 17th) but that’s a good thing for us in FOX Fantasy Auto. Since joining Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth has been a yearly force at Martinsville Speedway, finishing 9th or better in six of his nine starts. As far as practice speeds go this weekend, the #20 Toyota didn’t look great in the Happy Hour session but did have the 6th-best ten-lap average in the first practice session. For what it’s worth, Kenseth started 17th in this race last year, too, and ended up finishing 4th after leading 176 laps.
Ryan Newman ($11,000) – Despite being over-priced yet again this week, I actually like Ryan Newman in FOX Fantasy Auto. One reason is actually a side effect of his price, and that is low ownership; as of 1 pm Eastern, only 4% of FOX teams had Newman on them. “The Rocketman” will roll off the grid from 18th when the First Data 500 goes green today, and honestly it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he advanced 5 to 8 positions during the race. The #31 Chevrolet showed top 10 speed in both practice sessions Saturday and Newman has wound up inside that mark in three of his last four starts at this track, including an 8th-place effort here in April.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,600) – A.J. Allmendinger might not qualify well here at Martinsville, but he sure does race well. If you remember back to the race here in April, The Dinger started back in 30th, but when the checkered flag waved, he ended up 6th–which resulted in a huge score in FOX Fantasy Auto. Today, the #47 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 27th, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Allmendinger wound up inside the top 10 when the 2017 First Data 500 is all said and done. Eight of the last ten Martinsville races have ended with A.J. in 11th or better, and he showed top 10 speed in both practices here on Saturday.
Other viable options: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray