We’re back at Martinsville Speedway this weekend, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicks off Round 3 of the 2018 Playoffs and we, the fans, get our final short track action of the season. Yeah, some may consider Phoenix a short track as well–we’ll be there in a couple weeks–but I’m not. With DraftKings this week, we have another large GPP that has $20,000 going to first, but the entry fee got bumped up to $10 for this race with the Piston contest. Looking ahead to the weekend, NASCAR is going with the condensed schedule for Martinsville 2, hoping to have two practice sessions as well as qualifying all squeezed into Saturday–assuming the weather cooperates. One thing to note is that this is an impound race, and inspection will start at 7:30 am ET on Sunday. Any car that fails inspection will have its qualifying time disallowed and will start and be scored from the rear. In other words, don’t plan on getting your DraftKings lineups set on Saturday and not adjusting them on Sunday.
Below you will find the average DraftKings points scored at Martinsville over the last two and a half years. You can also look at the other short track races from this season to get an idea of who should be good this weekend, but for this Preview, I’ll be focusing solely on Martinsville races.
Average DraftKings Points Scored at Martinsville Over Last 5 Races
|Driver||DK Salary||# of Races||Avg DK Pts Per Race||Avg Finish||Avg Fastest Laps Per Race||Avg Laps Led Per Race||Avg Start||Avg Place Differential|
|Martin Truex Jr||$10,700||5||50.25||09.4||21.60||38.60||04.60||-04.80|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$6,700||5||17.10||25.8||03.40||00.00||23.00||-02.80|
Martinsville First Data 500 Contenders
Kyle Busch ($11,900) – Go ahead and file this under “obvious.” Kyle Busch has been the strongest driver at Martinsville for the last five races by a wide margin, and the fact that he isn’t the highest-priced driver in DraftKings this week is one of the most surprising things I’ve seen in a while. Rowdy is averaging over 125 DraftKings points per race at “The Paperclip” over the last two and a half years with 167 laps led per race over that span as well as an average finish of 2.2 (ridiculous). He won last year’s fall race and will definitely be a contender this weekend, too.
Clint Bowyer ($9,800) – It’s probably a little cliché to list the most recent Martinsville winner as a contender, but that’s not the only reason I’m doing it. Clint Bowyer and this #14 team have been at their best on the shorter tracks this season, and it’s very obvious when you look at his laps led this season; of the 489 laps that Bowyer has led in the 2018 season, 215 have came here at Martinsville (44%), 120 at Bristol (24.5%), 45 at Richmond (9.2%), and 40 at Dover (8.2), giving us a grand total of 420 laps led on the shorter tracks out of a total of 489–or 85.9%. This spring was the first time that Bowyer got to victory lane here at “The Paperclip,” but his career average finish of 13.5 here is 5th-best among active drivers and he has finished 1st, 3rd, and 7th in his three starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing. Those Fords have been the class of the field at the short tracks this season and that should continue here on Sunday with the First Data 500.
Potential DraftKings Bargains for Martinsville 2
Jimmie Johnson ($8,100) – At first glance it would appear that Denny Hamlin ($8,500) would be worth a spot in this “Bargains” write-up, but when you look at the numbers over the last five Martinsville races, his salary actually kind of makes sense; since the start of 2016, Hamlin is averaging just 36.4 DraftKings points per race (13th-most in the series) while his salary this week is 12th-most in the field. Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, has scored the 5th-most DraftKings points per race over the last five (5th-best) while he has the 14th-highest salary at $8,100, giving us a differential of +9. A lot of that has to do with the fact that this #48 team can’t seem to catch a break as of late, and Johnson has just one finish better than 9th in his last eight starts at this track. That exception was a win here in the fall 2016 race, though. Jimmie is a nine-time winner here and has had trouble qualifying high this season. In DraftKings on Sunday, he could be a major value play.
Austin Dillon ($7,400) – This #3 team isn’t making a huge splash, but they’re running really well right now. After coming home 11th at Kansas 2 last weekend, Austin now has four results of 11th or better in the last six Cup Series races overall, as well as positive place differential in five of the last six. As far as Martinsville goes, he’s been a solid finisher here ever since he joined the Cup Series, with just two finishes worse than 18th in nine career starts. In DraftKings, Austin has scored the 11th-most points per race (42) at this track over the last two and a half years, and that’s been helped largely by his place differential (an average of +9.8 per race). He’s priced in that mid-$7,000 range for this weekend’s First Data 500, but if Austin qualifies outside of the top 20 on Saturday, he’s definitely a great play in DraftKings for Martinsville 2.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,200) – This one is a real head scratcher because A.J. Allmendinger is just plain good at Martinsville Speedway. He was also priced over $8,000 the last time we raced here, so getting this big of a price slash is unexpected to say the least. As far as a bargain goes, though, Allmendinger has to top the list this weekend, as he’s a great play at this price even if he qualifies high. He’s finished 11th or better in five of the last six Martinsville races, and has recently had positive place differentials of +17 and +24 in the spring races. Allmendinger will be the highest-owned driver on Sunday if he qualifies poorly this weekend, so we’re going to have to see how qualifying shakes out to determine what kind of strategy will be best when it comes to the #47 Chevrolet in DraftKings on Sunday.