NASCAR Picks for Martinsville
Length: 0.526 miles
Location: Martinsville, Virginia
After a somewhat benign trip to Talladega last weekend, things should get back to normal this weekend when the Cup Series heads back to Martinsville Speedway. Granted, the paperclip-shaped track is the smallest and slowest on the schedule (so it poses some of its own unique challenges), but compared to restrictor-plate racing, Martinsville can seem like a walk in the park for drivers and fantasy owners. In fact, the track can be very kind to fantasy owners because several big names have been incredibly dominant at Martinsville, making several lineup decisions no brainers. On the flip side, fantasy owners that need to gain ground in their leagues could find it tough to do so this weekend. Yes, there are only four races remaining in the 2013 season, but sticking with the traditional Martinsville powers and living to fight another day may be the best strategy for all fantasy owners this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Johnson is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he is also going for a season sweep at the track after winning the spring race. Meanwhile, he is a eight-time winner at the track for his career, and he has only finished outside the top 10 in three of his 23 starts. Not to mention that in the last 20 races at the track, Johnson has a series-leading 3.7 average finish and has 16 top-five finishes during the stretch.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Although his last win at Martinsville came in 2005, Gordon has remained incredibly consistent at the track. He has a 5.0 average finish in the last 20 races at the track and has 18 top-10s during the stretch. For his career, Gordon has seven wins at Martinsville to go along with 33 top-10s in 41 starts.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Flat tracks like Martinsville used to give Busch a bit of a problem, but he has more than conquered those demons. In fact, he finished second at Martinsville last fall and fifth earlier this year, giving Busch four top-five finishes in his last six starts at the paperclip-shaped track. Expect Busch to have a car capable of winning this weekend.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Hendrick Motorsports has excelled at Martinsville over the years; and not surprisingly, Kahne has become an excellent option at the track since joining the organization. He finished third at Martinsville last fall, and earlier this year he logged a fourth-place finish. Like his teammates that top this week's rankings, Kahne deserves to be considered a top-five option for Sunday's race.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Joining Michael Waltrip Racing has transformed Bowyer from a solid Martinsville performer into a great one. He has finished in the top 10 in all three starts at the track with MWR, compiling a 5.7 average finish. Bowyer has also finished in the top five in his last two Martinsville starts, including a second-place run earlier this year. At this point, a trip to victory lane seems likely in the near future.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His 11.3 average finish is the fourth best among active drivers at Martinsville, and in seven starts at the track, he has never finished outside the top 20. More importantly, Keselowski has reeled off three straight top-10s at the short track, including back-to-back sixth-place finishes.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Martinsville has never been Kenseth's best track, but he has been able to put up solid results lately. He has five top-15s in his last six starts at Martinsville, including three straight. During the stretch, he has finished sixth or better twice. Kenseth isn't an ideal A-List option in Yahoo! leagues, but don't be surprised when he delivers a top-10 this weekend.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He certainly hasn't helped fantasy owners much in 2013, but Hamlin could deliver excellent results this weekend. After all, he is a four-time winner at Martinsville, and his 8.2 average finish at the track is the third best among active drivers. Fantasy owners willing to overlook his sub par season could be rewarded nicely this weekend if Hamlin lives up to his career numbers at Martinsville.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Harvick has been pretty consistent at Martinsville recently, reeling off nine top-15s in his last 12 starts at the track. He also has three top-five finishes in his last six Martinsville starts - including a win - so he offers some upside as well.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Since the start of the 2008 season, Junior has eight top-15s in 11 starts at Martinsville, including seven top-10 finishes. Perhaps more importantly, he has finished seventh or better four times in his last six starts at the track and has a pair of top-three finishes during the stretch.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Martinsville used to be one of Biffle's worst tracks, but he has turned a corner recently. He has reeled off four straight top-15 finishes at the track, including back-to-back top-10s. Biffle still isn't a top-five option by any means, but he should finish in order around the top 10.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He has always been one of the more reliable options at Martinsville; in the last 20 races at the track, he has posted a solid 11.8 average finish. Newman has also logged three finishes of 11th or better in his last four starts at the track, including a win in the spring of 2012. His victory may be a bit misleading as far as his upside is concerned, but Newman can certainly make a worthwhile addition to fantasy rosters at Martinsville.