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

Kevin Harvick's dominant streak of race wins ended last week in California through a mistake he made while trying to draft Kyle Larson. The stand-out driver so far in 2018 beat himself, and in doing so ended his shot at winning four races in a row. That brain lapse opened the door for Martin Truex Jr. to sweep the 400-mile even from pole to checkered flag. He won every stage on his way to Toyota's first win of the season. A challenge could have been waged from Kyle Busch, but a mistake while adjusting his car's handling on the final pit stop sent him skidding backward through the field and left him grasping for whatever he could salvage, which ended up being third. That was his third consecutive top-five finish, but he will remember it as another lost victory. The tables turn this week as the series heads back east and leaves the big and fast ovals behind for the tight confines and high curbs of Martinsville Speedway. Mechanical grip and hard-nosed racing make the difference at this rough track, where Busch is most recent driver to visit Victory Lane.

Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway

Number of previous races: 138
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 Speedway Winners

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
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson

Martinsville Speedway has hosted 138 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series races. It is well-known by the teams and drivers, but can take an eternity to master. It is a unique paperclip shape with flat turns and high curbs on the inside. The cars resemble a side-by-side conveyor belt as they get strung out across the circuit, and making your way through traffic efficiently is an absolute necessity to have a shot at the win. The race typically starts with the bottom as the preferred line, and it could take some time for cars in the outer groove to lay down enough rubber to provide sufficient grip to complete passes on the outside. Rocketing out of the tight turns and leaving braking for the next as late as physically possible is every driver's goal. Four fresh tires will be the preference for every stop, but two-tire strategy could be an option depending on where caution periods fall in relation to the pit window. Drivers will have to be careful not to abuse their equipment, too. Overheated brakes can force slower lap times, or even cause tire failure. Qualifying is extremely important given the traffic, so fantasy owners must pay particular attention to starting position this week.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $11,600
Kyle Busch - $11,000
Brad Keselowski - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Chase Elliott - $9,900
Joey Logano - $9,500
Denny Hamlin - $9,400
Jimmie Johnson - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Aric Almirola - $8,900
Ryan Blaney - $8,700
Erik Jones - $8,100
Ryan Newman - $7,900

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Jamie McMurray - $7,100
Paul Menard - $6,800
Trevor Bayne - $6,000
Landon Cassill - $4,500

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,100
Joey Logano - $9,500
Aric Almirola - $8,900
Ryan Newman - $7,900
Jamie McMurray - $7,100
Trevor Bayne - $6,000

The Penske Racing teammates lead off the lower-risk lineup for Martinsville Speedway. The organization is hitting their stride after placing all three cars in the top 10 last week, and both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have been better than Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick at this track recently. Keselowski won this race last year and led more than 100 laps in both stops at the track last season. For his part, Logano led 59 laps here in the fall, has eight consecutive top-five starts, and led at least one lap in each of those efforts. This could be a good week for Penske. Aric Almirola is proving to be a valuable fantasy option in 2018 with consistent finishes right around the top 10. He finished 12th last week and was 18th in both Martinsville races last season. Ryan Newman remains in playoff contention in the standings even after stumbling last week. At Martinsville he should be back as a threat, though. He won this race in 2012, and has three top-10s in the last five Martinsville races. Last week was a better week for Jamie McMurray. He returned to a top-20 finish and even led a lap. That was a confidence booster. He crashed out of this race last season after starting sixth, but also has three top-10 finishes at the track from the last six starts. Trevor Bayne is our final selection in the lower-risk lineup on the basis of his ability to score top-20 finishes. He hasn't found consistency yet this season, but offers a better finish potential than A.J. Allmendinger or Ty Dillon, who would be alternate selections, at this point in the season.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,000
Denny Hamlin - $9,400
Jimmie Johnson - $9,100
Clint Bowyer - $8,300
Alex Bowman - $7,400
Landon Cassill - $4,500

It feels like Kyle Busch is on the verge of scoring his first Cup series win of the season, and that is why he leads the higher-risk lineup this week. He has two wins in his Martinsville career and led more than 180 laps in both trips to the circuit last season. Teammate Denny Hamlin's five career Martinsville wins make him an excellent selection this week as well. He led laps in his last three starts at the track, and has two top-10 finishes from those tries. Last week's California finish was a step forward for Jimmie Johnson, which could put him in good position to continue improving this week. He has an astonishing nine career victories at this track along with 24 top-10s from 32 starts. Another value play this week is Clint Bowyer. He has been turning in nice finishes so far this season, and had excellent races at Martinsville last season. Two top-10 finishes in the two trips here last year imply he could be in store for another top finish this week. Alex Bowman has quietly put himself in the hunt for a playoff spot and is currently 16th in the standings. He finished 13th in the last two races, and is turning into a consistent top-15 runner for fantasy players. Landon Cassill is taking over for Jeffrey Earnhardt for the next two races at StarCom Racing, which should help the team move a few positions forward. Earnhardt was usually relegated to finishes outside of the top 30, whereas Cassill offers the potential to move into the top 25.

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 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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