Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet | 2017 Martinsville Speedway, First Data 500
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2017 Martinsville Speedway, First Data 500

There are now eight drivers and four races left this season to determine a champion. Martin Truex Jr. won yet another race on a mile-and-a-half track and added five more playoff points to his resume for the third round. This round will feature three different track types. The first race of this round will be run at Martinsville Speedway, which is the shortest track on the Cup circuit at just over a half-mile. Follow this up with another mile-and-a-half track and the final race of this round will be on a one-mile track.

My predictions for the contenders for the championship after this round will be Truex, Busch, Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick. However, Johnson could knock out Hamlin by winning the race this week at Martinsville. These are the two most consistent drivers at this track and I will have both of them on my roster. I just think Hamlin has been a little bit better in the playoffs where Johnson has struggled a bit yet. I just don’t think Blaney and Elliott are good enough on the short tracks at this point in their careers to make it through this round and Keselowski is another driver who has been struggling through the playoffs so far.

FIRST DATA 500

As I mentioned earlier, Martinsville Speedway is a .526 mile speedway in Martinsville, VA. It has very low banking and is a place where it is difficult to pass without using the bumper. If a driver gets out of the bottom groove, they will probably lose multiple spots on the track before they can find a way back to the preferred lane. Qualifying spots are also going to be huge this week because it is just too easy to get lapped if you start towards the back on the pack because of all the traffic and how hard it is to pass here.

Denny Hamlin: I am picking Denny to win the race this week at Martinsville. Denny has five wins and has led almost 1,400 laps here. He has been more consistent in the playoffs than some of the other driver who also run well at this track on a consistent basis and that is why I am picking him to win this race. He has also finished in the top five in twelve of his twenty-three starts here and anyone who can do that in more than half of his starts at any track needs to be on your roster.

Jimmie Johnson: Not to be outdone by Denny, Jimmie has nine wins, nineteen top five, and twenty-four top ten finishes in only thirty-one starts. He has also led more than 2,800 laps here. He won this race last season, but it was his only top five finish in his last six starts. This is the time of the year that this championship team seems to put everything together and another win here would mean getting a shot at his eighth championship.

Kyle Busch: Kyle has finished in the top five at Martinsville in each of his last four starts. This is the team that is still in the playoffs that has been the closest to Truex most of the time this year. All of these teams know that a win gets them into the championship race and they can’t wait to try and get in on points after the Phoenix race. There just isn’t enough leeway with eight drivers fighting for four spots and with the point cushion Truex has.

Brad Keselowski: I think Brad might have to win this week or at Phoenix to make it to the championship race. Brad won the spring race here and has finished in the top five in four of his last five starts. If they have any trouble here or at Phoenix I think they are out because they haven’t run very well at the intermediate tracks in the second half of the season. He can win one of the two races I mentioned and really needs to if he wants to advance.

Martin Truex Jr.: Martin added another five playoff points last weekend at Kansas and by winning the pole there he got to pick his pit stall for this race. That is another huge thing at this track because the pit stalls go all the way around the track. It is a very difficult place to have a clean pit stop and being at the end of the row gives the driver the advantage of not having to worry about getting around another car when leaving their pit. Martn has also run pretty well here lately finishing in the top ten in three of his last five starts.

Ryan Newman: Ryan has one win, eight top five and fifteen top ten finishes in his thirty-one starts at Martinsville. Ryan hasn’t been the most consistent driver on the track this season, but he did pick up his win at Phoenix which is another of the shorter flatter tracks on the circuit. I think he is a good driver to have on your team, especially in the Yahoo league where premium drivers are getting scarce.

Kevin Harvick: Now that we are talking about shorter flatter tracks we can’t forget Kevin. He has been so dominant at Phoenix that he should be able to run well at Martisville too. However, this hasn’t really been the case. Kevin’s lone win here came back in the spring of 2011. He has only finished in the top five in three of his thirty-two starts, but in the top ten in fourteen of those races. I think he is looking ahead to Texas and especially Phoenix to get his win in this round.

Matt Kenseth: Matt got knocked out of the playoffs when the team had too many men over the wall trying to fix the damage he sustained late in the race at Kansas. Otherwise he and Jimmie Johnson were fighting for that final spot. Matt is still looking for his first win at this track and is still looking for a job for next season. What better way to audition than winning a race at the end of this year? Matt has fourteen top ten finishes in his thirty-five starts here.

Jamie McMurray: Jamie is another driver looking for his first win at this track and would like to get a win this year too. He has been pretty consistent here coming away with fifteen top ten finishes in his twenty-nine career starts. This team has been running pretty well lately and might have made the third round if they hadn’t gotten caught up in a couple of huge wrecks that took them right out of the playoff chase. He is a good dark horse to have on your team this week.

Clint Bowyer: Clint was hoping to have a much better season that he turned out to have. I think Clint is at his best on this type of track though and they have shown they have the speed in their car to compete. He just seems to have a lot of bad luck in races where he is getting caught up in somebody else’s mistakes on the track and it takes him out of contention. He has run very well here on a consistent basis, finishing in the top ten in thirteen of his twenty-three starts.

YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY

Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Denny Hamlin
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Ryan Newman
  • Jamie McMurray
  • Clint Bowyer
  • Kyle Larson

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Ty Dillon
  • Daniel Suarez

MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Kevin Harvick

Dark Horse: Ryan Newman

Stay Away From: Kurt Busch

Big 18: AJ Allmendinger

TAGS >

  • David

    With Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez burned up in my C group, I have 4 Ty Dillon’s for the last 4 races. Who else would you pair with Dillon for these last 4.

    Thank you for all you do, I’m battling for first place in my league,,,thanks mostly to your generous weekly info.

    Much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      Ragan and McDowell

      Reply
  • Derek lee

    With one start left for the 1 18 21 24 42 where would you burn these guys? Thanks

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      The 1 probably isn’t going to get you a lot of points in qualifying, but the other 4 drivers possible could. I would save the rest of them as long as you can.

      Reply
  • Tom Helton

    How far back are you going for Hamlins wins? I cant find more than 3 which ties Johnsons wins since 2010? What I find is that Kyle Bush has the best record at this track? Please help me out here,

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      It isn’t how far back he has won here. It is how he is running now that I am looking at. He has run well on this type of track this season and has way more consistent than Johnson lately.

      Reply
  • Joe

    I think the 47 could be a B group option this weekend. His last 4 starts here he has finished 6th, 10th, 2nd, and 11th. Flat track and braking like a road course. Just a thought.

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      Yes, a road course races could do very well on this short flat track.

      Reply
  • Ron

    Hey Jeff my fantasy league rules are I can only pick the same driver every 10th race…..I’m thinking of using the 11 this weekend but I also have the 2 available but I wanted to save him for Phoenix….was wanting to use the 24 at Texas then I can use either 48 or 18 at Homestead……what are your thoughts on this……thanks
    Martinsville 11
    Texas 24
    Phoenix 2 or 48
    Homestead 48 or 18
    Ps….I can’t use the 78 or the 4 the rest of the
    season

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      This looks good to me unless you have Harvick to use at Phoenix. Then for the final race go with whoever is still alive for the championship.

      Reply
  • Walt

    Jeff, In my league we only select 1 driver each week and you can only use a driver once through out the regular season, then it resets in the playoffs and you can use all drivers again one time. I am currently in second by 24 points. The leader has Hamlin and Johnson remaining and after that no real big hitters going to the last 2 races. I expect him to use Hamlin and Johnson the next 2 races. My big hitters remaining are Johnson, Kyle Busch and Harvick. I was thinking of using Logano this week then Johnson at Texas, Kyle at Phoenix and Harvick at Homestead. Logano this week is frightening since he is not in the chase but he has run good here when Kennseth is not targeting him. No one within striking distance has Kyle or Harvick remaining, you think they would learn I won this league last year with Kyle and Harvick at the end in that order. The drivers I have used in the playoffs in order: Hamlin 4th, Kenseth 3rd, Larson 5th, Truex 1st, Keselowski 1st and Blaney 3rd. You think dropping a Logano bomb on them while still having Kyle and Jimmy in your stable is Foolish? Is there another dark horse I need to look at?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I would use Harvick at Phoenix where he has been almost unstoppable. Instead of using Logano I would use either Jones of Suarez. Both of them have run better and more consistently than Logano all season. I don’t see Logano doing anything the rest of the year. I would also use Busch or Johnson at Homestead depending on which one is still in the running for the championship. Another driver to maybe try at Phoenix might be Kurt Busch, but I would definitely go with Harvick there.

      Reply
    • Walt

      Thanks Jeff! The only reason I was not going to use Harvick at Phoenix is he never led a lap in the spring race and qualified 23rd. Yea he finished good , 6th, I used him there. He just was not dominant like he had been for in the past. Not sure if he has the Ford figured out there like he had the Chevy. He was fast at Kansas and that mile and a half is similar to Homestead. There is so much luck involved in this. I usually save Hamlin for Martinsville, the last 2 times I used him there he pulled the wheel hop into the wall trick. After the first time he did it I thought “there is no way he will do that again” guess what… yep. Just like Dale Jr blowing the motor in practice at Pocono by missing a shift, I thought ” he is a professional he wont do that again in the race” so I used him at Pocono…Doh!!! 1 point weekend. Thanks Dale. I have a saying for those weekends “If it was raining marshmallows I’d get hit with a brick” (that’s the G version) Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my novel. I am seriously going to rethink Martinsville based on your suggestions. It sucks we wont get to see any practice before our driver selection has to be submitted this Friday. You can tell quite a bit by who is fast right off the trailer.

      Reply
  • Ron

    I wish I could use the 4 again but I can’t

    Reply
  • Marlar

    I have 3 starts left for Eric Jones and 2 starts left for Ty Dillon. Wished I would have used Ty last week, bad luck for Daniel Suarez. Debating on using Ty Dillon, and Eric Jones on bench this week. Which track would Ty Dillon likely to do best?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I would use Jones on the mile and a half tracks and take my chances with someone else on the short tracks.

      Reply
  • JIM

    jeff,
    i plan on using hamlin and elliot this weekend.
    but not sure on my other B option, mcmurray or bowyer, who do you like?
    and which C driver would you choose suarez or jones?
    appreciate the help

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I don’t like Elliott at all this weekend. I would save him for the intermediate tracks. Suarez for my short track guy. I would take my chances on both McMurray and Bowyer unless I had enough starts left for Elliott to make it to the end of the year.

      Reply
  • David Tack

    I have a dilemma. I have 3 Trueux Jr.’s left in Yahoo A group. Would you stick with D. Hamlin and J. Johnson at Martinsville,,pick one after qualify and use Truex Jr. the last 3 races with other guys for points like Kyle Busch at Texas, Harvick at Phoenix and the closest contender to him in Miami?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I use Truex on the intermediate tracks for sure, Harvick at Phoenix is a good choice and Hamlin or Johnson at Martinsville. I also like Busch in most of the races.

      Reply
  • Doug

    I have 2 starts left for 21 and 24 and 1 start left for the 42. What do you think of
    21 at Martinsville and Texas
    24 at Texas and Homestead
    42 at Homestead
    Does this look good? Would you change anything?

    Reply
  • Jeff Gutowski

    Not so sure about Blaney at Martinsville. He has run well on the intermediates this year though. Probable run Blaney at Homestead and run Larson at Phoenix.

    Reply
    • Doug

      Which B drivers do you like this week? 1,47,14,41?

      Reply
      • Jeff Gutowski

        The 1 and the 14. The 41 is my stay away from driver as Kurt has done really poor here in most of his starts.

        Reply
  • Duane Robert Jones

    Based on practice, still use hamlin over keselowski! Hamlin burns me but is good here, kez too

    Reply
  • Andrew

    Jeff. First year in this fantasy style. I’m curious why the deadline changes for certain races. Huge advantage seeing practice speeds before you pick. Sometimes the deadline is after sometimes before?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I think Yahoo usually tries to have picks in before practice, but they might not really look and see what the schedule is. NASCAR has also changed some things once again this year with some qualifying coming on race day.

      Reply
  • Fred

    My C drivers are Ty Dillon (2 starts left) and David Ragan. Should I go with Ragan and save Ty for another day?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I think I like Ragan better on this short track.

      Reply
  • Duane Robert Jones

    1 start left w Larson and mcmurray, 2 w bowyer and 5 w newman. Who would u start.? Also, kyle busch or hamlin? Thanks in advance. Fought my way from 12th to 3rd in league

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      Stick with Hamlin and then use Bowyer and Newman so you still can get qualifying points from the other two.

      Reply
  • Duane Robert Jones

    Saw it too late, got bowyer and newman but have kyle instead of denny

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      Looks like you made the right decision! Way to go!

      Reply

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