This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.
Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500
Location: Martinsville, Va.
Course: Martinsville Speedway
Format: 0.53-mile oval
Kevin Harvick ran away with his second victory of the season last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway on an afternoon that Martin Truex Jr. kicked off with two stage wins. This week the series returns to Martinsville Speedway for another short-track race. Truex is the most recent winner at the track, but it was Brad Keselowski who won in the spring and also claimed 2020's only short-track win so far this season.
Martinsville's flat turns and tight confines produce tight and aggressive racing. Drivers prefer to take the tightest line against the curbs, and getting caught on the outside line could mean losing multiple positions before squeezing back to the inside line. This week's Wednesday night event will be the first NASCAR Cup series under the lights at the exciting track. Short-track night races are some of the most entertaining races for fans and fantasy players alike. Making this night even more unique will be the lack of practice and qualifying, as drivers and teams are tasked with racing what they brought and slugging it out for an all-important race win.
Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway
- Number of races: 142
- Winners from pole: 21
- Winners from top-5 starters: 75
- Winners from top-10 starters: 104
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
- Fastest race: 82.223 mph
Previous 10 Martinsville Winners
2019 fall - Martin Truex Jr.
2019 spring - Brad Keselowski
2018 fall - Joey Logano
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
The sweeping flat configuration of Martinsville makes the inside groove the preferred line. The high cornering speeds have sometimes caused teams to push the limits and suffer failures that resulted in crashes. A cooler track at night means higher grip and less tire wear, though. How those limits will be stretched on Wednesday will be a learning exercise. One other factor that drivers and teams have to pay attention to at this track is breaks. Fans should see the glowing brake rotors better during the night as drivers push the equipment to its limits. Managing those two key areas of the car throughout the 500 laps Wednesday night will be paramount to delivering the best possible machine when racing for the win in the final miles. Using those components up too early will make for a rough and frustrating slog to the finish.
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)
Jimmie Johnson (DK $12,500, FD $10,200) has a high salary for a reason this week. The veteran driver has been quick enough to win races this season and will start Wednesday's race 21st. He has nine Martinsville wins but hasn't finished better than 12th there since 2016. His starting position and his current speed makes me think he could be a factor Wednesday night. Brad Keselowski (DK $9,500, FD $13,500) dominated the first visit to Martinsville last season and then went on to finish third there in the fall. With two wins so far this season, he should be in contention for the win this week, too. Clint Bowyer's (DK $8,600, FD $10,000) runner-up finish at Bristol in addition to his 2018 win at this track make him another excellent selection. He starts from the second row Wednesday night. Bristol was a rough afternoon for Ryan Newman (DK $6,800, FD $7,000) with the number of problems he had to overcome, but if he can clean up the mistakes, he should be well-placed Wednesday. He starts 16th and finished 10th here in the fall. Austin Dillon (DK $6,100, FD $7,300) is awaiting the birth of his first child, but if he has to bow out of Wednesday's driving duties, fantasy owners should feel confident selecting A.J. Allmendinger in his place. Chris Buescher's (DK $5,600, FD $6,500) results have trailed off since the start of the season, which makes him a good value this week. He was 12th at Martinsville last fall and 13th in the fall race the year before. A top-15 or top-10 finish won't be out of the question for him this week.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
After Martin Truex Jr. lead more than 400 laps at Martinsville on his way to winning last fall, it would be hard for fantasy owners to ignore him (DK $10,300, FD $14,000) this week. The veteran won both opening stages in Atlanta and now just needs to be leading that last lap. Joey Logano (DK $9,900, FD $12,000) was one of the quickest cars in on Bristol's short track and feels like he should have one more victory to his credit after being knocked out of the lead there. He led 309 laps in his Martinsville win in 2018. Ryan Blaney (DK $8,400, FD $11,500) has rediscovered the pace he showed prior to the pandemic and has three top-five Martinsville finishes in his last four tries. Also on an upswing in results is Bubba Wallace (DK $7,800, FD $5,000). He was 10th at Bristol and will start Wednesday's race 23rd. Tyler Reddick (DK $7,400, FD $8,200) will start 14th on Wednesday, and fantasy owners should be able to rely on him for consistent top-15 results. Wrapping up the higher-risk option is Cole Custer (DK $5,900, FD $6,000). He stumbled at Bristol but has been a consistent top-20 finisher otherwise. He starts 27th on Wednesday, which could offer a nice opportunity for finish differential points.