Previewing the STP 500
This week NASCAR heads to its first shirt track of the season, the paper clipped oval is the shortest on the circuit at just over half a mile around. Qualifying was rained out so the starting grid has been set based on season points. Drivers are going to need a different skill set and some luck to make it 500 laps in one piece. Let’s take a look at the drivers who have the best chance to do just that.
High Priced Picks $10600-$9000
Kyle Busch, $10300
After a slow start, Busch has picked it up the last two weeks with consecutive top 10 finishes. He has had good success at the track as well with finishes of 5th, 1st and 5th in his last 3 Martinsville starts. He posted the 2nd fastest practice speed and looks poised for another strong showing this week.
Joey Logano, $10100
With the exception of a speeding penalty followed by a blown tire at Phoenix, Logano has been an absolute stud this season. He has finishes of 6th, 6th, 4th, 31st (Phoenix) and 5th. He led 82 laps at Phoenix before the pit road penalty and looked like a contender for the win. Now he heads to a track where he has had lots of success and posted the 8th fastest practice speed. Look for him to be near the front all day.
Kyle Larson, $10000
Hopefully, you got Larson in your lineups before DraftKings wised up and vaulted him into the 10k range. Logano has been far and away the best driver to start the season finally reaching victory lane last week after 3 consecutive runner-up finishes. He looks poised to keep his hot streak going as he posted the 3rd fastest practice speed. There is no reason to think with his current form he won’t keep the hot streak rolling.
Denny Hamlin, $9700
Hamlin has not had the success we are accustomed to seeing to start 2017 but that could all change this week. Martinsville is a track he runs well at with finishes of 3rd, 39th (accident), 3rd, 1st, and 8th. He led all drivers in practice so he definitely has the speed this week. This could be the race that gets him going.
Brad Keselowski, $9500
Since the Daytona 500, Keselowski has been fantastic with finishes of 1st, 5th, 5th, and 2nd. Now he goes to a track that he has run well at recently with finishes of 2nd, 5th, 32nd (led 143 laps) and 2nd. He was 13th fastest in practice but with his form and success at the track should be one of the contenders.
Martin Truex, Jr, $9400
Truex has been a model of consistency this year with a worst finish of 13th and only 2 finishes outside the top 10. He was 9th fastest in practice and goes to a track with finishes of 7th (led 147 laps), 18th, 6th, and 6th. There is no reason to think he isn’t headed for another strong finish.
Mid-Priced Picks $8900-$7000
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., $8600
Earnhardt has been good but not great lately with finishes of 16th, 14th, and 16th in his last 3. Martinsville could be just what he needs though to crack the top 10 as he’s finished 14th, 4th, 36th, 1st, 3rd and 8th in his last 6 trips here. He posted the 10th fastest practice speed as well so he looks fast enough this week too.
Jamie McMurray, $8100
McMurray keeps posting good finishes and DraftKings continues to ignore them. He is close to a must play this week as he’s posted finishes of 8th, 10th, 15th and 8th since the Daytona 500. Now he heads to a track where he has 3 top 10’s in his last 4 starts and was 5th fastest in practice. Keep putting him into your lineups before DraftKings wises up.
Clint Bowyer, $8000
Bowyer is another driver DraftKings seems to be undervaluing as he’s coming off a 3rd place finish at California and hasn’t finished worse than 13th since Daytona. His recent finishes at Martinsville haven’t been great but he has had success here in the past with an average career finish of 14th. He was 6th fastest in practice and comes at a great price.
Ryan Blaney, $7700
Blaney is coming off a 7th place finish at California and has 3 top 10’s this season. He was 7th fastest in practice. Though he has only finished 19th in both of his two starts at Martinsville, look for him to improve on that this week.
Ryan Newman, $7400
DraftKings is just begging you to put Newman into your lineup. He ran 4th fastest in practice and has finishes of 16th, 10th, and 7th in his last 3 starts here. At this price, he is an absolute steal.
Low Priced Value Picks $6900-$4500
Paul Menard, $6600
Menard has the speed (14th fastest in practice) and the track history (25th, 8th, 15th) to put up a decent finish this week. No, don’t expect a top 10 but if he can give you a top 15 at this price you’ll take it.
Michael McDowell, $5600
Yes, McDowell comes with plenty of risks but that’s the chance you take when you dig this deep. He did post the 22nd fastest practice speed and has decent finishes of 18th and 24th in his last two visits. He really only needs a top 20 finish to pay off his price which he has the ability to do.