Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver.
(fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.)
1. Brad Keselowski ($9,500) – The No. 2 car almost led all 500 laps in the spring race. That’s unheard of, or at least it was. The high-horsepower, high-downforce package has created terrible racing, but knowing this allows DFS players to build conservative lineups. (4.2 fppk)
2. Chase Elliott ($9,800) – After the spring race, Keselowski said Elliott had the best car, and Elliott’s fast-lap points support Keselowski’s claim. It was impossible to pass at Martinsville. Normally, an average running position of second guarantees a win, but not in the spring Martinsville race. (4.3 fppk)
3. Kyle Busch ($11,800) – In the spring, he worked his way to the front. It was impossible to pass to pass at Martinsville, so making the moves inside the top five were wholly dependent on the quickness of the pit crews. Busch grinded out a third-place finish. (5.4 fppk)
4. Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,400) – He nearly won at Martinsville last fall, and he ran well in his return to the short, flat track in the spring race. Truex was never in contention to win, but no one was; not even the second-place car. Passing did not exist in the spring race. (5.1 fppk)
5. Joey Logano ($10,100) – Last fall, Logano needed a win at Martinsville to qualify for the championship race. After a patient Truex cleanly passed Logano, his championship chances were in jeopardy, so Logano did what he had to do and drove Truex into the wall on the final turn to take the win. (4.3 fppk)
6. Denny Hamlin ($11,000) – He always runs well at the legendary Virginia short track. Hamlin should have won at the flat, short track in New Hampshire, but an ill-advised late race pit stop and a lack of aggression during the final laps led to a second-place finish. (5.1 fppk)
7. Kevin Harvick ($10,500) – He won at New Hampshire, and it’s a slightly similar flat track shaped like a paper clip. New Hampshire is twice the size, and in the 2019 package it might not be the best predictor of success in the Martinsville fall race. (4.4 fppk)
8. Alex Bowman ($8,300) – His starting position in the spring race was disappointing. In practice, it looked like he could qualify in the front two rows, but he ended up starting 16th. That’s where he raced. If Bowman qualifies up front, he could win this race. (4.3 fppk)
9. Clint Bowyer ($8,900) – In the spring of 2018, Bowyer won a Martinsville race delayed a day by snow. That feels like a lifetime ago. Very few fans were able to watch the Monday afternoon race live. It’s starting to feel like this never really happened. (3.3 fppk)
10. Ryan Newman ($7,500) – He has rarely DNF’d this year, but last week he finished dead last. The irony is his last-place finish was thanks to his soon departing teammate Ricky “Wrecky Spinhouse” Stenhouse. (4.6 fppk)
11. Ryan Blaney ($9,300) – He grabbed spots early and then stalled out near the front in the first Martinsville race. There is a five-lap window when the bottom lane gets moving, after that, it’s classic NASCAR lap-turning in this package. (4.1 fppk)
12. Aric Almirola ($7,600) – The front row isn’t the be-all end-all at Martinsville. The pole sitter’s position is pretty good, but second place starts on the outside. Almirola got locked out and dropped backwards at the beginning of the race, but he hung on for a top-10 finish. (3.5 fppk)
13. Daniel Suarez ($7,300) – It’s been said many times before: Suarez easily can earn top-10 finishes in his SHR Ford, if he gets out of his own way. He was strong in the spring race because it was the ultimate lap-turner. Suarez, let the car do the work. (3.9 fppk)
14. Austin Dillon ($6,700) – He cannot qualify at Martinsville, but he knows his way around the track during the race. Dillon has earned double-digit place differential points in six of the past eight races at Martinsville. (3.1 fppk)
15. Jimmie Johnson ($8,100) – Over his career, Johnson has nine wins at Martinsville, but like other veteran drivers, career track history is a worthless stat. Johnson is capable of a top-10 at Martinsville, but at this stage in his career, no one should expect wins. (3.3 fppk)
16. Erik Jones ($8,700) – The third-year JGR driver has improved everywhere except Martinsville. Road courses, intermediate tracks and plate tracks are no sweat. Martinsville is a different story. He’s never earned a top-10, and in three of his five races at The Paperclip he’s finished worse than 25th. (3.8 fppk)
17. Kyle Larson ($9,100) – This is Larson’s worst track. He hates this track. Larson has been vocal about his struggles at Martinsville. Eventually he’ll figure it out, but his results at Martinsville infer he is nowhere close to figuring it out. (4.2 fppk)
18. Kurt Busch ($8,500) – Martinsville has never been a strong track for Kurt Busch. He’s earned a top-10 finish in just 16% of his races at The Paperclip. Compare that to Kevin Harvick’s 50% top-10 rate. (3.9 fppk)
19. Ryan Preece ($6,600) – This ranking has nothing to do with his flukey finish last week. Martinsville is similar to the tracks Preece has raced on all of his life. In the spring race, Preece started 15th and finished 16th. (3.6 fppk)
20. William Byron ($8,000) – Martinsville is tough on young drivers. This short track is not a part of the Xfinity circuit, so most young drivers come in as greenhorns. His performance at Martinsville thus far has been typical. In three races, his best finish is 20th. (4.3 fppk)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.