First bye week down, and I hope the next one stays away. We have a great stretch of tracks coming up with Martinsville, Richmond, and Talladega so this is about to be one of the best parts of the year. I am going to be at the Martinsville race this weekend and as always I’m super excited to see the great racing this track always produces.
I think that last week’s Bristol race will actually give us a good idea of who to be watching for Martinsville, despite it being on dirt. This is the closest thing to a short track setup we’ve seen out of these guys and it’ll probably be some of the same guys running upfront.
Favorite: Joey Logano
Joey conquered the dirt, and while that isn’t enough to go ahead and crown him at every short track, he also finished second at Pheonix which is a pseudo-short track. Logano has been running well at every kind of track, and currently finds himself second in the points running a 9.4 average finish.
Overall at Martinsville, Logano has been one of the best at the paper clip in the last few years. The short track speed is nothing new to his team, and with him coming off a short track win he seems to be the most likely candidate. Maybe someone will move Joey out of the way this time.
Dark Horse: Ryan Newman
At the beginning of the year, I never thought I’d pick Newman to be a contender for a win, not even at a superspeedway. I believed that Newman’s career was over and just like his on-track persona, he was going to be as stubborn as possible with retirement. This season he is showing he still has some left in the tank to give.
He is coming off his best finish of the year at Bristol with a 5th place finish and sports an average finish of 15th in his career at Martinsville. I think that this has a chance to be a shocker with Newman proving the doubters like me wrong.
- Joey Logano: $10,700
- Brad Keselowski: $11,000
- Martin Truex Jr.: $12,000
- Denny Hamlin: $10,400
- Ryan Blaney: $10,100
- Christopher Bell: $8,400
- Kurt Busch: $8,900
- Bubba Wallace: $7,300
- William Byron: $8,700
- Cole Custer: $7,000
- Ryan Newman: $6,800
- Ryan Preece: $5,600
- Chris Buescher: $6,400
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: $5,800
- Erik Jones: $6,600
I think that Penske cars are going to be the heavy favorite this weekend. Logano, Keselowski, and Blaney are all very good at Martinsville and they have run well at short tracks this season. I would try to build most of my lineups around them this weekend. With Truex and Hamlin running as well as they are this season this could also be a big Gibbs day as well.
For Hendrick, I would look to stay away from Kyle Larson this week. While this is the best equipment he has ever had at Martinsville, he still struggles mightily when we come here. His teammate Chase Elliott isn’t a bad play, but his success isn’t a guarantee; I’d expect him to at least come away with a top 15 though. Bowman should be cheap enough to be a good value because he always runs around the top 10 here. Byron is not someone I would make a priority as he has up and down success here.
As I said above, take a look at Ryan Newman because he has the potential to be a surprise. Another guy that might surprise is Bubba Wallace who has been having an off-year but Martinsville is quietly one of his better tracks. This might be the best place beside a superspeedway to play Wallace all year.
My super deep pick this week is Ryan Preece. I think that he and Stenhouse have the potential to put some great finishes together, but Preece could be a super dark horse surprise. He has been running exceptionally well this year and has a decent track record at Martinsville with 3 top 20’s in 4 starts. With this being the best that JTG Daugherty cars have looked in years I like the chances both these guys have at top 10’s.
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