DraftKings NASCAR: First Data 500
DraftKings NASCAR: First Data 500

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

First Data 500

Location: Martinsville, Va.
Course: Martinsville Speedway
Format: 0.5-mile oval
Laps: 500

Race Preview

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series championship picture contains the final eight drivers after last week's elimination race at Kansas Speedway. Chase Elliott captured his second win of the round and third of his career after overcoming the weekend's dominant Ford-powered machines. Points are reset for the final eight contenders, and the next three races will determine the four eligible to battle for the championship trophy at Homestead. This week's race features a return to short-track racing at Martinsville Speedway before closing the round with visits to Texas and Phoenix. The tight and flat paper clip-shaped oval will be a vital chance for the eight contenders to get a quick start to the round, hopefully booking their place in Miami with a win. Clint Bowyer took the victory at the track in the spring, leading 215 of the 500 laps. Kyle Busch won the fall race at the circuit last season with 184 laps led. Martin Truex Jr. has never won there, and he's arguably the one of the three favorites most in need of a turnaround in results. However, he'll have to overcome the seven other drivers fighting to exit this week's race on solid footing to advance to the finale.

Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway

Number of previous races: 139
Winners from pole: 21
Winners from top-5 starters: 72
Winners from top-10 starters: 100
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 82.223 mph

Last 10 Martinsville Winners

2018 spring - Clint Bowyer
2017 fall - Kyle Busch
2017 spring - Brad Keselowski
2016 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2016 spring - Kyle Busch
2015 fall - Jeff Gordon
2015 spring - Denny Hamlin
2014 fall - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2014 spring - Kurt Busch
2013 fall - Jeff Gordon

Martinsville Speedway is a flat, half-mile oval where side-by-side racing and traffic are standard nearly every lap. The long 500-lap distance gives fantasy owners the chance to get a driver who can stay out front in the lead for a significant time, and that driver will likely come from the top 10 qualifiers. In the 139-race history of the track, just seven times has a winner started deeper than 21st. Nearly 75 percent of races at the circuit have been won by someone starting in the top 10, and more than 53 percent have started in the top five. Drivers and teams will want to set up their machines to hug the inside of the long turns and maximize launches on corner exit to propel themselves down the long straights to set up passes. Cautions can be frequent, which can ruin a team's pit strategy quickly but gives others chances to rebound or make a quick recovery. In order to maximize those strategies, drivers will have to avoid mistakes on pit road and capitalize on restarts. Track position will be an important factor on Sunday, and fantasy players should focus on drivers showing quick pace in Friday's practice and qualifying sessions.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,500
Kyle Busch - $11,900
Kyle Larson - $11,500

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,200
Clint Bowyer - $9,800
Joey Logano - $9,500
Chase Elliott - $9,200
Kurt Busch - $9,00

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Ryan Blaney - $8,900
Erik Jones - $8,700
Denny Hamlin - $8,500
Aric Almirola - $8,300

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $7,400
Ryan Newman - $7,100
Regan Smith - $6,600
William Byron - $6,400

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,200
Clint Bowyer - $9,800
Joey Logano - $9,500
Austin Dillon - $7,400
Ryan Newman - $7,100
Chris Buescher - $5,900

It's hard to bet against Ford this week after the pace they showed at Kansas despite Kyle Busch being on pole. All three of the top Fords in this lineup were among the fastest cars on track Saturday. Clint Bowyer will be going for the sweep at the track after winning in March, and the safer lineup option this week pairs him with the Penske Racing machines of Keselowski and Logano. Despite just two track wins among the three, they make for a formidable lineup this week. Logano is the only driver of the three not having soley top-10 finishes in his three most recent Martinsville races, but he does enter the weekend with four consecutive top-10 finishes. Dillon should be a good consideration this week due to his two Martinsville top-10s despite finishing 30th there in the spring. He finished 11th last week at Kansas and was sixth at the last short track race just a few weeks back at Richmond. Newman offers fantasy rosters a confident top-20 finish. He has only failed to deliver that once in the last nine Martinsville races, and five of those races resulted in top-15s, too. His average finish from the last five races before this weekend is 16.6, including last week's 15th-place finish at Kansas. Buescher wraps up this lineup as another driver who is scratching the surfaces of regular top-20 finishes. He has two in the five most recent races and has an average Martinsville finish of 18.8 from the last three.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,900
Ryan Blaney - $8,900
Denny Hamlin - $8,500
Jimmie Johnson - $8,100
Matt Kenseth - $6,900
Bubba Wallace - $5,700

Teammates Busch and Hamlin head up the higher-risk lineup option for Martinsville, and are excellent choices given the pace they showed on Saturday. The pair has seven wins between them and three of the last seven. Toyota wasn't on par with the pace of the Fords in Kansas, and Joe Gibbs Racing will be leading the charge to regain that ground. Backing up the pair is Blaney's Ford. Blaney recovered from a two-race skid to score a top-10 finish last week and led 145 laps before finishing third at Martinsville early in the season. Johnson had just his second finish outside of the top 20 in the last five races last week in Kansas. The team has been making strides but will need better race pace than they showed in qualifying. Martinsville is one of Johnson's best tracks and he should be able to outperform his 15th-place result there from March. The part-time former champion over at Roush Fenway Racing also could be an interesting play this week. Kenseth has never won at Martinsville, but he only finished outside of the top 10 twice in his nine most recent races there. His 12th-place finish at the Brickyard could bode well for his chances this week. Finishing off the selection is Wallace. Bubba is a consistent threat to finish in the top 20 and has even picked up the odd top-10, too. He was 19th at Martinsville earlier this year, and that would be good value for fantasy players this week as he starts at the back following a crash in qualifying.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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