NASCAR DFS: First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway Fanduel Preview
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will make its second stop at Martinsville Speedway this weekend, and there should be no shortage of excitement at the flat, paperclip-shaped short track this weekend. After all, Sunday's First Data 500 is the first race of the Round of 8, and for the remaining playoff drivers, a win means an automatic spot in the championship finale at Homestead.
When it comes to building NASCAR DFS lineups at Fanduel, a trip to a short track means a lot of laps and a lot of bonus points up for grabs in the laps led category. Typically, I take a more balanced approach to assembling lineups at Fanduel because of the limited number of dominator points awarded, but with 500 laps on tap, the laps led points are going to carry some serious weight.
Brad Keselowski's beatdown of the field in March was an outlier to the normal trends at Martinsville, and more often than not, you will see a couple of drivers lead more than 100 laps. You have to be prepared to pay up for a couple of high-priced studs, even if it means taking a chance on a low-priced driver to make the cap numbers work.
Another factor we may have to deal with this weekend is the qualifying procedure NASCAR is using. Cars will qualify Saturday, but the starting lineup will be unofficial until inspection is performed Sunday morning. If any cars fail inspection, those drivers will be forced to start from the rear. More importantly, they will be scored from the rear, which could cause a dramatic shift in DFS values.
Make sure to check back over the weekend for initial picks following qualifying and any updates if inspection starts to create chaos with the starting lineup. In the meantime, I have highlighted the drivers that I expect to rely on at Fanduel for the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Kyle Busch ($15,000)
Busch has been in a league of his own at Martinsville lately. He has cracked the Top 5 in eight straight starts here, picking up a couple of wins in that span. Busch has also led more than 100 laps in four of those starts, leading more than 180 laps three times. At worst, he should challenge for the win and deliver an excellent finish, and he has the ability to be the top scorer at Fanduel by a wide margin.
Denny Hamlin ($14,000)
Although Hamlin hasn't had a dominant performance at Martinsville in a while, he remains one of the steadiest performers at the track. He was the runner-up in the fall race last year, and he notched another Top 5 in the spring. He has also led laps in 20 of his 27 starts here, leading 20-plus laps in four of his last six starts. Throw in the fact that Hamlin has been on a tear in the second half of the year, and I'm expecting a dominating showing out of him at one of his best tracks.
Brad Keselowski ($13,500)
Keselowski didn't just win at Martinsville in the spring. He clobbered the field, leading 446 of the 500 laps. He has eight Top 10s and seven Top 5s in the last nine races here, leading more than 100 laps four times in that stretch. His blend of reliability and upside makes him an ideal building block for Fanduel lineups.
Difference Makers and Value Plays
Chase Elliott ($13,000)
Elliott has had some strong performances at flat tracks in his career, and a couple of those have come at Martinsville. He led 123 laps in the fall race in 2017 before he was dumped from the lead, and he led 49 laps in a runner-up finish back in March. Overall, Elliott has finished 12th or better in five of his last six starts at Martinsville, notching three straight Top 10s. He could be a great pivot to the top-priced dominators.
Joey Logano ($12,000)
Believe it or not, Logano has a grand total of one Top 5 finish in the 15 races leading up to Martinsville. Still, he is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he led a race-high 309 laps in his victory last fall. It was the third time he has led more than 100 laps in a race at Martinsville, so there is no denying his upside. Logano should at least be on your radar as a contrarian dominator candidate.
Clint Bowyer ($10,500)
Bowyer is one of the most underrated short track drivers in the series, and he has finished seventh or better in four of his five starts at Martinsville with Stewart-Haas Racing. He has finished third or better twice in that span, leading 215 laps on his way to the win in the spring race last year. Bowyer is a sleeper candidate to challenge for the win and deliver some laps led points.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,200)
Johnson is no longer the unstoppable force who won nine times at Martinsville early in his career, but he has remained competitive here. He has seven Top 15 finishes in his last eight starts at the track, and he has gained at least nine spots in four of those starts. Johnson has been a Top 10 driver since the playoffs began, and if his recent uptick in performance continues, he could be in for a strong run at one of his best tracks.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400)
He has delivered back-to-back solid runs at Martinsville, finishing ninth in the fall race last year for Joe Gibbs Racing and 10th in the spring for Stewart-Haas Racing. Yes, Suarez has been inconsistent all year, but Top 10 upside at this price shouldn't be ignored. Keep him in mind when building GPP lineups this weekend.
Ryan Newman ($6,800)
Newman numbers at Martinsville aren't spectacular, but he does have five Top 10s and a 13.5 average finish over the last 10 races here. This isn't a bad price tag for a driver who usually finishes around the Top 15 here and offers legitimate Top 10 potential. Newman has cash play written all over him.
Austin Dillon ($6,300)
While he doesn't offer a ton of upside in terms of finishing position, Dillon has actually been a decent DFS play at Martinsville thanks to his knack for piling up place differential points. He has finished with a differential of +12 or better in six of his last eight starts here, gaining at least 15 spots four times. Dillon gained 18 spots and finished 11th in the spring race earlier this year, and if he has a poor qualifying effort again this weekend, he should be a great value at this price.
Ty Dillon ($5,000)
Dillon has been running better in recent weeks, posting a 17.6 average finish over the last 10 races. He also has a 16.7 average finish in his last three starts at Martinsville, gaining an average of 9.0 spots in those races. Dillon has gained at least eight spots in all three starts, gaining nine spots and finishing 13th back in the spring. He should be one of the safer sources of significant cap relief.