Cash on DraftKings with Brian Polking's top First Data 500 NASCAR DFS plays this weekend in the final short track event of the 2017 season!
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to its smallest track this weekend when Martinsville Speedway hosts the First Data 500, the final short track event of the 2017 season.
Passing can be tough and pit road can be treacherous at the flat, paperclip-shaped track, but when it comes to building a winning DFS lineup, your primary concern has to be the dominator categories. There are 500 laps on tap Sunday, so the points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories will be as high as they have been all season.
In addition to there being a lot of laps, it is common for a couple of drivers to lead more than 100 laps in a race here, and there is a good chance the lap leader will spend more than 200 laps out front.
Needless to say, you need to have the top dominator in your lineup this weekend if you want to win some cash at DraftKings, and there is no way around it. There just aren't going to be enough place differential points available to close the gap if you whiff on the top lap leaders.
With that in mind, I'll likely be top loading my lineups this weekend, opting for at least three drivers who I feel have the potential to earn a lot of dominator points. I may even go with some lineups that feature four dominator candidates and two punt plays.
Before I get into my top NASCAR DFS picks for the First Data 500 at Martinsville, it is important to keep in mind that NASCAR will be qualifying and racing on Sunday. Since the starting lineup won't be determined until a couple of hours before the green flag, make sure to check the forums for last minute lineup tips and advice.
Kyle Busch ($11,000)
Busch has been locked in at Martinsville recently, reeling off four straight Top 5s and winning the spring race in 2016. More importantly, he has led the most laps in two of the last three races here, leading 274 laps and finishing second in the April race this year. Overall, Busch ranks third in both dominator categories here, and if he starts somewhere near the front, he will be my favorite option to build around this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,800)
He will need to show me some speed in practice and qualifying, but if Johnson shows any signs of having a strong car, I will have plenty of exposure. The nine-time Martinsville winner ranks first in both dominator categories here, and while he hasn't been as impressive recently, he did manage to lead 92 laps and win the fall race last season. Sunday's race is Johnson's potential ticket to compete for a title, and he has an enormous ceiling this weekend.
Brad Keselowki ($9,600)
He led more than 100 laps on his way to a win at Martinsville back in April, and Keselowski has finished in the Top 5 in four of his last five starts here. He has also led 100-plus laps in two of the last four races at the track, and his seven Top 10s in the last 10 races here are the most in the series.
Matt Kenseth ($9,300)
While his title chances ended last weekend, Kenseth still has a few races left to pick up a win in what could very well be the final season of his career. He has finished in the Top 15 in 10 of his last 11 starts at Martinsville, and he has led the third-most laps of any driver in that span, including a race-high 176 laps last fall. Kenseth could be a sleeper to deliver some dominator points this weekend.
Denny Hamlin ($9,200)
He hasn't really had any dominant runs this year, but Martinsville is arguably Hamlin's best track. In addition to his five wins here, he ranks second in both laps led and fastest laps run. Hamlin led 48 laps here last fall and 24 laps here in April, and he has finished third in the last two fall races here. At worst, he should deliver a strong finish and chip in some dominator points, and he has an outside chance to be one of the top scorers.
Austin Dillon ($7,500)
Dillon has been able to deliver solid finishes at Martinsville, but his impact in the place differential category is what has made him a gem in DFS contests. In seven starts here, he has compiled a 16.0 average finish and an average place differential of +10.6. Dillon has gained 12-plus spots in five of his starts at Martinsville, and he finished in the Top 5 in two of his last three starts here.
Ryan Newman ($7,400)
He has ebbed and flowed at Martinsville throughout his career, but right now, Newman is riding a hot streak at the track. He has a 10.3 average finish over his last four starts here, and he notched an eighth-place finish in the April race this year. Newman will be an easy choice if he qualifies in the middle of the pack, but at this price, he could be a useful option no matter where he starts.
Chris Buescher ($6,800)
Buescher opened his career with three straight lackluster runs at Martinsville, but in his first start at the track with JTG Daugherty Racing, he gained 22 spots and finished 11th. Teaming with one of the best drivers at Martinsville, A.J. Allmendinger, may have had something to do with his sudden success. If he starts deep in the field again Sunday, I'll be willing to take a chance that his April performance was no fluke.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,000)
Speaking of Allmendinger, I'm shocked that he is priced so low this weekend. I know he tends to be wildly inconsistent, but he has been a force at Martinsville. He has finished 11th or better in six of his seven starts here with JTG Daugherty Racing, and he has a 6.0 average finish in his last three starts. He gained 24 spots and finished sixth in the April race this year, but at this price, I'll be buying Allmendinger no matter where he starts.
Cole Whitt ($5,100)
While he might be a bit of a reach as a sleeper, Whitt could be a useful play if he does not perform well in qualifying. He has finished 22nd or better in four of his last five starts at Martinsville, and he finished 21st here back in April.