Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. who dominated the race in California this past weekend as he swept the stages and picked up seven playoff points. There wasn’t anyone who had anything for Martin as he won by 10 seconds and only left 10 cars on the lead lap. Kevin Harvick was involved in an early wreck that took him out of contention and snapped his three race winning streak. He looked fast early, but I don’t know if he would have had anything to compete with Truex either.
This week the series heads back to the east coast as the drivers visit the Martinsville Speedway for the running of the STP 500. This is the shortest track on the circuit and the banking is almost non-existent. So, we go from a 2-mile track to one that is just over a half-mile and that means a whole different type of race once again this weekend. 500-laps on this track takes a lot out of a driver because they are almost constantly in a corner here.
Denny Hamlin: I am going to pick Denny to win the race this week at Martinsville. He has looked pretty good this season and is always good on the short flat tracks. He has five wins and twelve top five finishes in his twenty-four starts here and I look for him to add to those stats. Qualifying is really important this weekend because of how the pits are stretched out all the way around the track and the teams get to pick their pit stall based on how they qualify.
Kyle Busch: Kyle is going to give Denny a run for his money this weekend. Kyle has two wins and thirteen top five finishes in his twenty-five starts here. He has been running fairly well all season and his pit crew has been consistently fast early in the year. I think he is going to battle with Denny all race long and the winner might be decided in the pits.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie leads all active drivers with nine wins here. He also has nineteen top five finishes in his thirty-two starts at this track. These three drivers are the cream of the crop when it comes to this track and how consistently they run here. The rest of the field can’t compare to the stats of the first three drivers I have mentioned and you need to have as many of them on your roster as you can in whatever league you are in.
Brad Keselowski: Brad has one win at Martinsville in his career and has also finished in the top five in six of his sixteen starts. This is a track that Brad likes to run on and he has the mentality to not let 500-laps here get to him. I think the mental part of racing here is the toughest thing for the drivers to fight through. Good pit stops and strategy are what get you wins here.
Clint Bowyer: Clint has finished in the top ten here in fourteen of his twenty-four starts. Those are some good stats and now that he is back with one of the elite teams he should be able to get another top ten finish and might even be able to pick up his first win at this track. I think they still have a little ways to go to all be on the same page when making the adjustments to their car during the race, but they seem to improve a little more every week.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has one win here and has finished in the top ten fifteen times in his thirty-three starts at Martinsville. He is going to be chomping at the bit to get back on the track this week after get caught up in a wreck in California last week that took him right out of the race. We know how good he has been on the intermediate tracks this year, now we get to see how he is going to run on the short track this weekend.
Ryan Newman: Ryan also has one win at this track and has finished in the top ten in fifteen of his thirty-two starts here. This team is once again quietly putting together another solid season while not being talked about during the races too much. He could surprise people once again this weekend and should run towards the front of the pack for most of the race.
Jamie McMurray: Jamie is another dark horse when it comes to Martinsville. He is still looking for his first career win here and has only finished in the top five twice in thirty starts. However, he has finished in the top ten in fifteen of those starts, so we can see that he has a pretty good handle on this track. If everything falls just right for him he could be another surprise contender this weekend.
AJ Allmendinger: AJ is another driver you could possibly take a chance on here. He has six top ten finishes in his nineteen starts here, so he finishes towards the front in about a third of the races he runs here. It might be a little to early in the year to be taking chances, but this is a gut call for each individual person and the league they are in. He could be a fairly inexpensive option in a league that runs on salaries.
Kurt Busch: Kurt is either feast or famine here. He has won twice at Martinsville, yet he only has three top five and five top ten finishes here in thirty-five starts. I think there are much better places to use my starts for Kurt. We will be using up all of his starts this season and this is not the place to waste on of those starts.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
Driver Group Game Group B
- Clint Bowyer
- Jamie McMurray
- Daniel Suarez
- AJ Allmendinger
Driver Group Game Group C
- William Byron
- Michael McDowell
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brad Keselowski
- Clint Bowyer
Dark Horse: Clint Bowyer
Stay Away From: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Big 18: Denny Hamlin