This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
Cook Out 250
Location: Martinsville, Va.
Course: Martinsville Speedway
Format: 0.53-mile oval
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to action after a week off in Friday night's Cook Out 250. Harrison Burton won Xfinity's return to Martinsville last season. It was the first time the series visited the short, paper-clip shaped oval since 2006 when Kevin Harvick won. Burton led a race-high 81 of 250 laps on his way to victory last fall, and he'll start this week's race from pole, too. AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson all led 20 laps or more that race, but it was Burton who took the second stage and race victories. This will be the first short-track visit of the season for the drivers and 2021's most recent winner, Justin Allgaier, will join Burton on the front row.
Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway
- Number of races: 35
- Winners from pole: 6
- Winners from top-5 starters: 17
- Winners from top-10 starters: 27
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 1
- Fastest race: 79.607 mph
Previous 10 Martinsville Winners
2020 - Harrison Burton
2006 - Kevin Harvick
1994 fall - Kenny Wallace
1994 spring - Terry Labonte
1993 fall - Chuck Bown
1993 spring - Ward Burton
1992 fall - Bobby Labonte
1992 spring - Kenny Wallace
1991 fall - Harry Gant
1991 spring - Jimmy Hensley
Track position and equipment management are two key factors in racing for the win at Martinsville. The inside line is the place to be, and brakes take a beating on corner entry. Drivers make passes by tapping a car from behind and forcing them out of the bottom lane or out-braking them into corner entry. Teams will work to set up cars to turn to the inside line of the corner and give drivers the grip to return to the gas as soon as possible to launch down the straights. Maximizing mechanical grip will be the aim for setups and chassis adjustments throughout the race distance. Like any short track, though, track position may be even more important. Drivers unable to move through traffic will look for opportunities to pit off sequence or gamble on tires in favor of a spot at the front for any restarts, but the short lap means the window to go off strategy is largely dictated by cautions and not entirely up to the teams themselves.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Gragson may be the fastest driver in the series not to have a win yet this season. He has encountered bad luck consistently, but a week off might be the tonic he needs to get his 2021 breakthrough. Gragson led 23 laps and finished third at Martinsville last season. He starts eighth on Friday and will be one to watch. Justin Haley has had a fantastic season so far. He is seventh in the championship standings and has four top-10 finishes. He finished 12th at Martinsville last season and will start fifth this Friday. Riley Herbst was another top-10 finisher at Martinsville last year. He started that race in 24th and had to race his way through the field. He has a seventh-place spot to start this week, which could make him a stronger contender. Jeb Burton finished fourth in that same race. He started the day eighth and will start this week's race in 13th. He should be capable of a top-10 finish this week and might even outperform his top-five from last season. Jeremy Clements scored a top-15 finish at this track last year and will start 11th this week. He is ninth in the championship standings and has three top-10 finishes so far this season. Alex Labbe has the 22nd starting position for this week's race and will want to improve upon his 27th-place finish last season and add more top-20 or better finishes to his 2021 results.
Last year's visit to Martinsville saw Allmendinger lead 68 laps before a flat tire left him with a 26th-place finish. That result was not representative of his pace and he will start third this week. He already has a win under his belt this season and will be looking for retribution from last year's flat tire. Harrison Burton was the benefactor of Allmendinger's flat tire and went on to win that race. He starts from pole this season and will be gunning for his first win of the year. Michael Annett finished eighth in this race last season. He starts inside the top 10 this week, which gives him an ideal spot from which to mount a challenge for another top-10 this week. Myatt Snider won at Homestead this season and will also start inside the top 10 again this week. He started 22nd and finished 23rd in this race last season, which is why he appears to have some potential this week despite carrying some risk. Four top-20 finishes gives Tommy Joe Martins some momentum heading into this week's Martinsville visit. He finished 16th at Martinsville last season and will start 17th Friday. Jeffrey Earnhardt brings three consecutive 19th-place finishes into this week's race. He starts 18th and is positioned well to score another top-20 Friday night.