Thursday, March 22, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Short-track racing & that pink hot dog at Martinsville

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Brad Keselowski- 4
All with 3 - Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer  

By Track
Brad Keselowski- 7
All with 6 - Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Clint Bowyer
All with 5 - Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick   

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Rained Out 
2016 & 2015 Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

The Likely Suspects:
 Martinsville is home to some great short-track racing and seriously pink hot dogs. I will be focusing on these drivers this week: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney.
My Two Cents: For this week's final picks, focus on drivers with open-wheel experience. Road racers perform particularly well at short tracks. My no-brainer pick this week is Brad Keselowski. My next picks are Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Dillon. I will complete my team with Chris Buescher and Cole Whitt. 

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Chris Buescher

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Aric Almirola. Although Aric has only one top five and three top 10s in 18 races at Martinsville, he has had a spectacular start to the 2018 season. He is currently 10th in the driver standings. Earlier in his career, he raced open-wheel modifieds, which should serve him well this week. Last week's second-look driver Erik Jones finished in seventh place at Auto Club Speedway after starting in the fourth position.

Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most successful starting spot in the field at Martinsville, producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. 
  • 99 of the 138 (71.7%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 24. 
  • Jimmie Johnson leads the series among active drivers with nine wins at Martinsville; followed by Denny Hamlin with five. Only seven active drivers have won at Martinsville. 
  • Joey Logano leads the series among active drivers with the most poles at Martinsville with four – 2015 sweep, Spring 2016 and Fall 2017. 
  • Joey Logano (18 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with an 8.667. 
  • Jimmie Johnson (32 starts) leads the series among active drivers in average finish at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.687; followed by Denny Hamlin 10.0 (24 starts). 
  • Joey Logano (8.7), Chase Elliott (9.4), Ryan Blaney (9.5), Ryan Newman (9.6), and Denny Hamlin (9.6) each have an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10. 
  • Jimmie Johnson can become the third driver in series history to record 10 or more wins at more than one track with a win this weekend.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 2:59 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 24, and pick your starters by 2 p.m. EST on race day, Sunday, March 25.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.


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