This is it! Martinsville Speedway marks the race to decide who will join Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell in the Championship 4. Just two NASCAR Cup Series races are left to win money on DraftKings for the 2023 season.
Read on to see who you should consider in daily fantasy for the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville, airing Sunday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.
It’s been several months since Cup drivers have raced at the Paperclip and things will be a bit different this time around. Not only will six playoff drivers fight for all the points and positions they can get, but there’s a new tire setup Goodyear is bringing this weekend. So we don’t know exactly how the racing will look, though I doubt it would be much different from other short tracks this season.
At Martinsville in April, there were two drivers who led over 100 laps; neither driver won. Instead, it was Larson who took the victory after leading just 30 of 400 laps at the 0.526-mile oval. A two-tire change late in the race and a late caution gave Larson track position to make a charge.
Last fall, though, the winner led over 100 circuits (which just so happened to be Bell), while another driver was out front just over 200 laps. Therefore, Larson appears to be an aberration; you’ll want the drivers who look like they can get out front and stay there. Check out Martinsville’s historical stats as well as the results and data from short tracks within the last couple of years.
Practice could be key this weekend because even though there won’t be a long session, drivers can still turn a lot of laps at Martinsville. Look especially at lap averages and see the qualifying results for any possible value plays.
Practice starts Saturday (Oct. 28) at 12:35 p.m. ET with qualifying following at 1:20 p.m. ET. Both sessions air on USA Network.
Before I reveal my picks for Martinsville, take a look at the results from Homestead-Miami Speedway:
|DraftKings Salary||Driver||DraftKings Score|
|$10,000||Martin Truex Jr.||-9.8|
|$6,800||John Hunter Nemechek||3.7|
Well, if the race had been the 4EVER 300, this roster likely would have scored much higher. Unfortunately, Larson decided to gun it a bit as Ryan Blaney slowed down heading onto pit road. In trying to avoid Blaney, Larson swerved right into the sand barrels, bringing out the red flag and ending his day.
Then, both Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. retired, with Truex having an engine issue while Hamlin appeared to break something and hit the wall. Brad Keselowski also ran up front in the first half of the race, but then a slow pit stop left him further in the pack. He was caught up in a late incident.
Here’s a quick look at the rules for DraftKings:
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and it decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats from 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they started the race. For example, if Tyler Reddick started seventh and won, he would gain six points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 51 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap they lead.
Now, here are my picks for Martinsville:
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier
Denny Hamlin ($11,500)
Career at Martinsville: 35 starts, 5 wins, 18 top fives, 24 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 10.3
Hamlin is the favorite this weekend, and after dipping below the cutline, he’ll need to perform now more than ever if he wants another shot at the Cup title. Martinsville is one of his better racetracks, though he’s had some moments with other drivers (like Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman).
Earlier this year, his No. 11 Toyota was out front for 36 laps before ultimately coming home in fourth. Last fall, he was fifth after leading 203 circuits, and we all know what happened to Hamlin that caused him to be cut from the title bout. In case you don’t, here you go:
But Martinsville isn’t the only short track of one mile or less where Hamlin’s had success recently. In fact, he won at Bristol Motor Speedway in September, commanding the field for 142 laps. Additionally, he placed second at Richmond Raceway in July.
Expect Hamlin to stay clean on the track and on pit road so he can stay in contention for one of the final transfer spots.
Ryan Blaney ($10,400)
Career at Martinsville: 15 starts, 0 wins, 7 top fives, 9 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 9.5
Blaney is also really good at the Paperclip, even though he has yet to earn a victory there. Earlier this spring, he drove from 31st to seventh, proving that passing was possible at Martinsville. Last season, the No. 12 finished fourth and third in the spring and fall races, respectively. Plus, in 2020, Blaney was runner up in both events.
At other comparable tracks, Blaney isn’t quite as good, except for Phoenix Raceway where he was second both this March and last fall. He also was third at Dover Motor Speedway, though that track is a bit of a different animal (or monster) altogether.
I’d look closer at Blaney’s practice results before putting him on my final roster.
Chase Elliott ($8,800)
Career at Martinsville: 16 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 13.0
Elliott hasn’t exactly been stellar on the short tracks he’s run this year, but he hasn’t been terrible either. He started and finished seventh at Bristol and was 10th at Martinsville after starting 24th. His other results this season on smaller ovals were an 11th at Dover and a 13th at Richmond. Last fall at Richmond and Bristol, he started 23rd and crossed the line in fifth and second, respectively.
In last year’s Martinsville race, Elliott was 10th after leading 54 laps. Actually, he was 10th in the last three races at the Paperclip. He earned his lone win in the fall 2020 event after finishing in fifth earlier that same year. And in spring 2021, he was second.
I’d like to see just how good Elliott might be in practice; if he looks like he’ll be a contender, I’ll put him in my DraftKings lineup.
Aric Almirola ($7,400)
Career at Martinsville: 29 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 8 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 19.7
Aric Almirola just might surprise us this weekend, although the way Stewart-Haas Racing performed in the spring, it may be more expected than surprising. At Martinsville, he finished sixth in April after starting third but was up front most of the race. Last season, he was eighth in the spring event and 15th in the fall. Plus, in the fall 2020 and 2021 races, he finished seventh and sixth, respectively, after starting in the 20s.
At some other short tracks, the No. 10 gained 16 spots at Richmond in the fall en route to eighth, while in the spring, he started 32nd and ended 13th. It seems to be the flatter racetracks where Almirola really shines, and if SHR can show up with good pace, then he’ll likely finish up front once again. It remains to be seen how late-breaking news Almirola will leave the team after the season affects his performance.
Ryan Preece ($7,100)
Career at Martinsville: 8 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 26.1
I wouldn’t look so much at Ryan Preece‘s average finish at Martinsville, as those runs came mostly with JTG Daugherty Racing. He showed up and ran well in April this year, leading 135 circuits after winning the pole with Stewart-Haas Racing before getting relegated to 15th. Despite no top-10 finishes, Preece does have a few finishes in the teens in Martinsville: 19th in the fall 2019 and 2020 races and 16th in spring 2019.
All of Preece’s results at tracks one mile or less this season have been 18th or better, which isn’t bad considering SHR and Ford’s struggles in 2023. He was fifth at Richmond in July after starting the race in 11th, while at Bristol and Phoenix, he came in 12th. Preece could be good to pair with one of his SHR teammates this weekend.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,100)
Career at Martinsville: 21 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 24.3
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned two of his three career top 10s at the Paperclip in 2017. His last one came earlier this year after qualifying 16th. That’s a really good run for the No. 47 JTG driver, as last year he finished in the 20s at both Martinsville races.
This season, Stenhouse has seemed to really turn things up at the short tracks, as he’s earned runs of 19th or better in five of the six events. At Bristol this fall, he advanced from 25th to 10th, producing a strong DraftKings total. However, in three races at Martinsville, he started in the top 10, and I expect he could have another strong qualifying performance this weekend. If he does that, I might pivot off of Stenhouse to another value play, depending on who does well in practice.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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