DraftKings NASCAR: STP 500

DraftKings NASCAR: STP 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

STP 500

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

Race Preview

Kyle Larson sealed the deal with a win last weekend at Auto Club Speedway. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver now has a firm grip on a playoff spot and the points lead to go along with it. We've seen a number of drivers this season, like Larson, who have demonstrated considerable race pace but have yet to close the deal on a full race distance. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott are three names that come to mind. Their fortunes may turn this week at Martinsville Speedway, however. This is the first true short-track race of the season and will force the teams to focus more on handling and rhythm than they have the past few weeks. The series has yet to produce a repeat winner this season, which means five drivers will have a chance to be the first to accomplish it this week. Larson may be the favorite with four top-two finishes from the first five races, but there is a stable full of hungry drivers behind him who have yet to visit Victory Lane this season. One of them is nine-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson. The defending champion won the last time the series visited the small Virginia oval, but he only has one top-10 finish so far this year. However, Martinsville is a venue where anything is possible.

Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway

Number of previous races: 136
Winners from pole: 21
Winners from top-5 starters: 71
Winners from top-10 starters: 98
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 82.223 mph

Last 10 Martinsville Winners

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
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2012 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2012 spring - Ryan Newman

The long straights and tight flat turns of Martinsville Speedway put a premium on brakes. Drivers try to hug the curb at corner apex and return to the throttle as early as possible. If that's done well it sets up drivers for passing maneuvers heading into the next turn by either out dragging a car off of the turn exit or by out breaking into the next corner. While the short track means aerodynamics won't be as important, not abusing tires and brakes will be the focus as drivers search for grip. Everyone will be fighting to get to the inside of the track as quickly as possible on restarts and that means track position could be the difference between victory and defeat. Larson won last week by electing to change tires under a late caution, but that may not be the winning call this week. Slower cars out front at the tight track can be difficult to pass, and that means the right call on when to pit and remaining mistake free on pit road will likely be deal breakers on Sunday. Practice and qualifying will also be paramount this week. Only three races have been won by someone starting 15th or worse at this track in the last 13 events.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $10,600
Kyle Busch - $10,300
Joey Logano - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kevin Harvick - $9,800
Denny Hamlin - $9,700
Brad Keselowski - $9,500
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,400
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,600

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Jamie McMurray - $8,100
Clint Bowyer - $8,000
Ryan Blaney - $7,700
Ryan Newman - $7,400

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Erik Jones - $7,600
Austin Dillon - $7,00
Danica Patrick - $6,100
Chris Buescher - $5,200
Reed Sorenson - $4,900


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,100
Kevin Harvick - $9,800
Jamie McMurray - $8,100
Clint Bowyer - $8,000
Ryan Newman - $7,400
David Ragan - $6,000

Logano got his good form right back on track in California after he crashed in Phoenix. His fifth-place finish last week was his fourth top-10 of the season, and he has been a monster at Martinsville. He has never won at the short track, but it may be only a matter of time until he does. He led more than 20 laps in all of the last six races at the venue. Harvick only has one top-five so far this season, but there's no need to worry. He will come on strongly, and he often runs well at Martinsville. He won this race in 2011 and has led more than 260 laps in the last four races at the track. McMurray is off to a much improved start. He has only finished worse than 15th once this season and he scored a top-10 Martinsville finish last fall when he was not as strong as he will be this week. He offers fantasy rosters some upside potential versus his price this week. Perhaps one of the happiest drivers on the circuit is Bowyer. His results are vastly improved since he moved into the No. 14, and that resurgence is perfect timing for this week's race. He has finished in the top 10 at this track in more than half of his starts. Newman, the 2012 Martinsville winner, also offers fantasy players a bargain this week. He scored three top-10 finishes from the last four races here. Ragan is probably the biggest risk in this lineup, so watch how he ranks in practice and qualifying. Fantasy owners should target him to land a top-20 this week based on his past results at the circuit.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Jimmie Johnson - $10,600
Kyle Busch - $10,300
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,600
Kasey Kahne - $7,300
Austin Dillon - $7,000
Danica Patrick - $6,100

Drivers in the higher-risk lineup for Martinsville were chosen based on their lack of closing the deal so far in 2017. While both Johnson and Kyle Busch haven't assumed their normal positions in the standings, they both represent chances worth taking at Martinsville. Johnson is a nine-time winner at the track, and all Busch has lacked so far this year is a little good luck. Both should be leading laps on Sunday. Earnhardt is another driver settling back into the groove. He has just one top-15 so far this season but has three top-fives from his last five races at this track. His teammate Kahne also appears to have taken a stride forward this year. He has one top-five and two top-10s so far this season and finished 11th or better in three of his last four visits to Martinsville. Dillon has been relatively quiet this season, but teammate Newman is already in the win column. Dillon finished 11th last week in a confidence boosting race, which could translate to a top-10 this week. He finished fourth in this race last season. Stewart Haas Racing's Patrick has failed to live up to the high bar set by her teammates, but she has been strong at times at this track. She finished 16th in this race last season and seventh the year before that. Fantasy players should monitor her throughout the weekend, but anything less than a top-20 would be a disappointment.

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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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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