Friday, October 26, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: The Round of 8 at Martinsville

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Denny Hamlin - 5
Matt Kenseth - 4
All with 3 - Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski 

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

Recent Pole Winners: 
2017 Joey Logano
2016 Martin Truex Jr.
2015 Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects: Short-track racing at Martinsville has its own set of fantasy elites. My go-to drivers this week are: Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. And never, ever count out Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville.

My 2 Cents: A good bet for racing at the "Paper Clip" is Kyle Busch. My next choices are Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Chase Elliott. My final picks will be Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is AJ Allmendinger. In nine Cup races at Martinsville, Allmendinger has one top 5 and five top 10s. This could be a race where he runs very well and "auditions" for his next ride. Last week's second-look driver, Kyle Larson, finished third after starting in 27th with a backup car after he crashed his primary car in practice. Despite the performance from the back to the front, he failed to make the round of 8.

Points to Ponder:
  • Joey Logano (19 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with an 8.368. 
  • Joey Logano (8.4), Ryan Blaney (8.6), Denny Hamlin (9.4) and Ryan Newman (9.7) each have an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10.
  • Joey Logano leads the series among active drivers with the most poles at Martinsville with four – 2015 sweep, spring 2016 and fall 2017.  
  • 27 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have multiple poles at Martinsville, but only five are active – Joey Logano (four), Denny Hamlin (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Ryan Newman (three) and Jamie McMurray (two).
  • Jimmie Johnson leads the series among active drivers with nine wins at Martinsville, followed by Denny Hamlin with five. Eight active drivers have won at Martinsville.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 24 wins
  • The pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville, producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. 
  • About a quarter (36 of the 139) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the first starting position and 15 from the second starting position.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four runner-up finishes at Martinsville and 19 top fives. Close behind is Kyle Busch with three runner-up finishes and 14 top fives.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in top 10s at Martinsville with 24, and best average finish at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.909. He's followed by Denny Hamlin with 18 wins and an average finish of 10.08 in 25 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 27, and your final picks by 2:30 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, Oct. 28.

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

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