DraftKings NASCAR: First Data 500

DraftKings NASCAR: First Data 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

First Data 500

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

Race Preview

The final elimination round of the playoffs has arrived. Over the next three races the championship battle will be reduced to the final four drivers who will race to earn the championship title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Eight drivers remain in the battle for the 2017 honor, and some surprises are still in the hunt. Kyle Busch successfully lifted himself out of danger, while Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth slipped. Martin Truex Jr. continued his impressive run of success with a hard-fought race that earned him his seventh victory of the season and second in the round of 12. Pressure on the championship contenders only increases as the playoffs progress, and the short track of Martinsville Speedway is where each of them will be aiming for the strongest possible start this Sunday. The spring race saw Brad Keselowski take the victory over Kyle Busch. The pair combined to lead 390 of the 500 laps that afternoon. Chase Elliott, who remains in the championship fight, finished third. This week's race will have an extra sense of urgency for those drivers along with the other five in the championship fight as they work to book their place among the final four.

Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway

Number of previous races: 137
Winners from pole: 21
Winners from top-5 starters: 72
Winners from top-10 starters: 99
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 82.223 mph

Last 10 Martinsville Winners

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
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2012 fall - Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR drivers go short-track racing one more time in 2017 at Martinsville Speedway. The flat circuit has a paperclip shape with almost no banking to help the cars through the corners. Drivers typically aim to hug the high inside curbs as they look to make the two straights as long as possible, out-braking competitors into each of the turns. The nature of the track places a premium on power off of the corners as well as track position. Fresh tires may help drivers move through traffic quickly, but traffic is so plentiful that older tires can often be enough to maintain a top position over a short run. The typical green-flag run at the track is about 31 laps, though. Three of the championship contenders filled the podium there in the spring race, and all eight are eager to claim a spot in Miami as quickly as possible. In order to do that they will have to be mindful of brakes and tires as they fight for every position. The flat circuit can bite teams that are too aggressive with chassis setup and tire pressures, while saving enough brakes to be able to make moves forward in the closing laps could make the winning difference between a ticket to Miami and facing an anxious wait until next week.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $11,200
Kyle Busch - $11,000
Kevin Harvick - $10,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Brad Keselowski - $9,600
Chase Eliott - $9,400
Denny Hamlin - $9,200

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Erik Jones - $8,600
Kurt Busch - $8,300
Ryan Blaney - $8,200
Ryan Newman - $7,400

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Chris Buescher - $6,800
Trevor Bayne - $6,400
Aric Almirola - $5,900
Landon Cassill - $5,500


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,000
Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Chase Elliott - $9,400
Denny Hamlin - $9,200
Aric Almirola - $5,900
Gray Gaulding - $4,600

Martinsville's lower-risk lineup features four of the eight remaining playoff contenders. Busch is the most expensive of the bunch, but he comes with a 2016 win at the track and 274 laps led in a runner-up finish earlier this year. Jimmie Johnson's nine circuit victories are among his impressive statistics. He barely squeaked into this round of eliminations, but Martinsville is one of his best tracks. He led 92 laps in his victory in this race last season. The last seed for the eight playoff contenders is Elliott, but he's likely to climb higher this week. He led 20 laps before finishing third at the track in the spring. Hamlin is a relative bargain at this price point. He has five Martinsville wins and led more than 70 combined laps in the last two races here. Almirola offers fantasy owners a reliable top-20 finisher at Martinsville. He only finished lower than that twice in the last 10 races at the circuit, and top-15s are a common occurrence for him at the venue. While the prior choices don't leave much room for selecting the last driver in the lineup, Gaulding isn't a terrible option. He has raced twice at the circuit and moved forward eight spots from his starting position in this season's spring edition.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $11,200
Brad Keselowski - $9,600
Matt Kenseth - $9,300
Ryan Newman - $7,400
Daniel Suarez - $7,200
Cole Whitt - $5,100

The man who dominated the round of 12 is the most expensive of the higher-risk options this week. Truex has never won at this track but he has led at least 20 laps in four of his last five races here. He led 42 laps en route to a 16th-place finish earlier this year. Keselowski is the only other driver to win one of the round of 12 races. He is also the latest Martinsville winner. He led 116 circuits there earlier this season in his first career victory at the track. Kenseth likely still will be working to move past the disaster at Kansas that left him out of the championship fight. He still has plenty to offer the series but is searching for a ride for 2018. He finished ninth at Martinsville earlier this year and led more than 200 combined laps at the track in the two races prior to that. Newman may not be a driver who jumps to the top of fantasy owners minds this week but he only has failed to score a top-10 at the track once in the last four races. The rookie Suarez is another who may not be at the top of your mind, but he has shown improvement at nearly every track on the back half of the season and has three top-10s from the last five races. Lastly, Whitt could be the best value of the drivers priced below $6,000. He has only finished worse than 30th once at Martinsville and that was his first time at the track. He has three top-25 performances here in the last four races. He could be a valuable option at the lower-end of the price range.

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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