NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Martinsville Night Race




The Bristol race in the dirt did not disappoint. It lived up to pre-race hype, despite the rain that forced the race to be re-scheduled to Monday. In the end, Joey Logano won and in doing so kept the streak of different winners to start the season alive making the 2021 season the fifth different year in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-2021) to start with seven different drivers in Victory Lane. Will Saturday night's Cup race in Martinsville feature an eighth different winner? 

 

There are seven drivers with pretty impressive short-track histories looking for their first win this season who sure hope so: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, and 2020 series champion Chase Elliott just so happen to be former Martinsville winners.

 

This Week's Pick Strategy:
Think short-track greats and focus final picks on the front row of the line-up. Although the starting position is the most prolific spot on the grid when it comes to race winners here at the Paper Clip, 25.8% have come from the first row. Hmm. What do you know? That would be Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin.


Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Brad Keselowski - 5
Chase Elliott - 4
All with 3 - Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney

By Track
Brad Keselowski - 10
Both with 7 - Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.
Both with 6 - Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney
Both with 5 - Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick

Last Year's Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Top 12 Driver Ratings at Martinsville

Denny Hamlin........................... 105.0

Kyle Busch............................... 102.7

Brad Keselowski......................... 99.8

Ryan Blaney............................... 98.5

Joey Logano.............................. 97.3

Chase Elliott............................... 95.3

Kevin Harvick............................. 93.8

Martin Truex Jr........................... 84.4

Ryan Newman............................ 83.8

Kurt Busch................................. 82.0

William Byron............................. 74.9

Kyle Larson................................ 73.6

Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2020 races (32 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway.
SOURCE: NASCAR Media


The Likely Suspects: Look for these short-track elites to run well at Martinsville: Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, and Ryan Newman.

My No-Brainer Pick:  Denny Hamlin
 
My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, and Bubba Wallace.

Second-Look Driver: Ryan Blaney is this week's second-look driver. Ryan is coming off a respectable eighth-place finish at Bristol. His average finish of 10.7 at Martinsville is third best, He has five Top 5s and six Top 10s.
 
Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most prolific starting spot in the field at Martinsville, producing more wins than any other starting position (21 victories - a winning percentage of 14.6%). 
  • 36 of the 144 (25.8%) 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.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 25. 
  •  Denny Hamlin leads the NASCAR Cup Series among active drivers in wins at Martinsville Speedway with five victories (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2015). 
  •  Thirteen NASCAR Cup drivers earned consecutive wins at Martinsville. Martin Truex Jr. was the most recent driver to do so. (Oct. 2019; June 2020). 
  •  Denny Hamlin (2006, 2009, 2018) and Kyle Busch (2012, 2017, 2018) lead all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville with three runner-up finishes each.
  •  Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with 16 top fives at Martinsville, followed by Denny Hamlin with 15 top-five finishes.
  •  Denny Hamlin leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in top 10s at Martinsville with 21; followed by Kevin Harvick with 19. 
  •  Denny Hamlin (30 starts) leads the series among active drivers in average finishing position at Martinsville Speedway with a 9.933; followed by Brad Keselowski with a 10.182 average finish (22 starts).
  •  Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the series in laps led at Martinsville with 1,608 (11%) in 30 starts.

Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 7:30 p.m. ET on race day Saturday, April 10th.


Enjoy the race!
________

Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 15 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at frcs.pro. formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.
 
When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat, or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Martinsville Night Race NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Martinsville Night Race Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, April 09, 2021 Rating: 5

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