Short-track racing returns to NASCAR this weekend when the Cup Series visits Martinsville Speedway. The flat, paperclip-shaped, half-mile oval is the smallest and slowest track on the schedule, but if you are hoping to win money at DraftKings playing NASCAR DFS, you have to nail your picks.
Saturday night's Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 is scheduled for 500 laps, which means we have a ton of points up for grabs in the laps led and fastest laps run categories. History says that a couple of drivers will likely lead 100+ laps Saturday, and we could even see one driver lead 200+ laps.
You can't be afraid to pay up to anchor your lineups with a couple of strong dominators. Yes, balance is nice, but it is hard to offset that many dominator points with a solid finish, and few spots gained. It is going to be a top-heavy week of lineup construction.
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,000)
Truex has recently been locked in at Martinsville, leading at least 129 laps and logging at least 58 fastest laps in the last three races here. He won two of those starts and had a shot at a three-peat until a loose wheel sent him to pit road with less than 30 laps to go last fall. He is the most proven source of dominator points.
Chase Elliott ($11,400)
He has three top-5s in his last four Martinsville starts, recording at least 27 fastest laps in every race in that span and topping 80 fastest laps twice. Elliott picked up the win in dominant fashion in the fall race a year ago, leading a race-high 236 laps and leading all drivers with 110 fastest laps. Starting in the top 5, he is a prime candidate to pile up dominator points again Saturday night.
Joey Logano ($10,100)
Logano has five top-10s in his last six starts at Martinsville, including finishes of fourth and third last year. He led 234 laps and logged 61 fastest laps in the June race, and he led 309 laps in a win in the fall of 2018. Rolling off from the pole, he could be headed for that type of dominant performance this weekend.
Kyle Larson ($11,700)
His Martinsville record isn't great, but we have already seen what Larson is capable of now that he is driving for Hendrick Motorsports, and HMS has been excellent at Martinsville. He has led a series-high 379 laps in 2021 and starting 19th, he has the place differential category working in his favor. Larson should be headed to a strong point total, with or without dominator points.
Brad Keselowski ($11,000)
If you are looking for a reliable option to plug into a cash lineup, Keselowski checks all the boxes. He starts 10th and is riding a streak of 10 straight top-10s at Martinsville, posting a 3.8 average finish and winning twice during that span. Keselowski has cracked the top 5 in his last five Martinsville starts, finishing third and fourth in the two races last season.
Alex Bowman ($9,200)
Bowman took advantage of that Hendrick Motorsports speed at Martinsville last season, logging a pair of sixth-place finishes in the two races. HMS has been fast again in 2021, and Bowman will roll off from the 20th spot with top-10 upside. I think he makes a run at 50 fantasy points this weekend.
Kurt Busch ($8,900)
He has quietly become one of the more reliable options at Martinsville in recent years, reeling off six straight finishes of 12th or better. He has three straight top-10s here, and he has finished sixth or better in three of his last five starts. Busch starts 21st Saturday night, putting him in a perfect position to use the place differential category to post a big point total.
Aric Almirola ($8,100)
I'll be the first to admit that Almirola has had some miserable luck in 2021. Still, starting way back in 31st, he is a relatively low-risk option with some upside. He has four top-15s, including a couple of top-10s, in six starts at Martinsville with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he only needs a mid-pack finish to post a strong score.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800)
Dillon has made enough dirt racing starts, including several Truck Series starts at Eldora, that he shouldn't be a fish out of water this weekend. More importantly, he starts dead last, so no matter how chaotic things get, you know Dillon won't lose points in the place differential category. He's a safe source of cap relief.
Denny Hamlin ($10,400)
His overall numbers at Martinsville rank among the best in NASCAR history. After Hamlin struggled a bit here last June, he was a contender for the win for much of the fall race. Starting on the front, he has a great chance to pick up win No. 6 at Martinsville while leading plenty of laps. I like him as a cheaper pivot to Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott.
Ryan Blaney ($10,100)
Blaney has made six starts at Martinsville for Team Penske, and he has finished in the top 5 in five of them, including four straight. Last year, he was the runner-up in both Martinsville races, leading 30+ laps in both events. Blaney will start inside the top 5 Saturday night, and he is my favorite contrarian dominator this weekend.
Christopher Bell ($8,400)
He only has two Martinsville starts under his belt, but he picked up a top-15 in the fall race after struggling in his track debut. We have already seen Bell take a sizeable leap in his second season, and the move to Joe Gibbs Racing has certainly raised his ceiling. Set to start 23rd, he could be headed for a career day and a strong score at DraftKings. I love him as a pivot to Alex Bowman and Aric Almirola.
Bubba Wallace ($7,300)
Wallace is still looking for a breakout performance for 23XI Racing, but he could be a sneaky DFS option this weekend. He starts back in 25th, and he has finished 21st or better in his last four Martinsville, logging a couple of top-15s. Wallace also owns a couple of wins at this track in the Truck Series. I like him as an alternative to Matt DiBenedetto.
Ryan Preece ($5,600)
If you are looking to free up some cap space Saturday, Preece could be worth a roll of the dice. He starts 17th, so he has some room to work with when it comes to place differential points. More importantly, Preece has cracked the top 20 in three of his four Martinsville starts. I think he can at least finish around where he starts and provide 25 or so fantasy points.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.