We are five weeks into the season and we have five different winners so far. I have come to the conclusion that I personally don’t care for stage racing. To me it doesn’t make the races any more exciting because you can’t really tell who is in the top ten at the time anyway because they aren’t showing that on TV. They show the leader go across the line and that is all. Also, I think it makes the points standings difficult to follow and it does nothing to make the end of races more exciting. The drivers do that themselves. One thing it does do though is keep the field a little tighter and put more people on the lead lap when you have a dominant car and no cautions, but I could do without it.
Congratulations to Kyle Larson who picked up his first win of the season this past weekend in California. Kyle has finished in the top two in four of the five races run so far this year. This week the series heads back east to the Martinsville Speedway for the running of the STP 500. Martinsville is the shortest track on the circuit with small pit stalls and no banking on the track. Qualifying will be at a premium to get the best pit selections which can win you the race here.
Kyle Busch: Kyle won this race last year and has finished in the top five here in his last four starts. He has also qualified in the top ten in nine of his last ten races here with the other start being eleventh. This bodes well at a track where pit selection is very important and those pit selections are based on where you qualify. I think this team will be the sixth different team to head to victory lane this season.
Denny Hamlin: With five wins here, twelve top five finishes and seventeen top ten finishes in twenty-two starts, Denny is no slouch at this track. He is one of the most consistent drivers here and will give Kyle all he can handle in this race. It would not be a surprise to see him qualify well and run up front all day this coming weekend. One way or another, I think we get a new winner this weekend.
Brad Keselowski: Brad is still looking for his first grandfather clock which is the trophy for winning a Martinsville race. However, he has finished in the top ten in eight of his fourteen starts including three top five finishes in his last four races here. This team overcame some more early adversity last weekend to come back and finish in the top five at California with a damaged car.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is the most consistent driver at this track of all the active drivers. This might be the place where he and Chad Knaus can get to victory lane for the first time this season. He has nine wins here and has nineteen top five and twenty-four top ten finishes in thirty starts. If you finish in the top ten in 80% of your races at any track you know what you are doing there. Tough to leave this guy off your roster this week.
Joey Logano: Joey is another driver looking for his first win at this track. However, he has led more laps here over the last four races than any other driver. He has also qualified first or second in his last five races here and as I said a couple of times already, qualifying is very important at this track. Look for Joey to have another great car coming into the weekend and we will have to wait and see if his team can keep up with the adjustments to their car to have a shot at the win late in the race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale runs well here on a consistent basis also. He won a race at Martinsville in the fall of 2014. Add to that eighteen top ten finishes in thirty-three career starts which means he has a top ten run in over half of his starts at this track. This team hasn’t run as well as they would like on the intermediate tracks so far this year and like teammate, Jimmie Johnson, this might be the type of track that is just what the doctor ordered to get them on track once again.
Kyle Larson: The hottest driver on the tour right now, Kyle will carry a lot of momentum into this weekend’s race. In his six starts here his best finish was a third place finish in this race last season. That is his only top ten finish in his six starts here. His average finishing position in his other five starts here is twenty-sixth. Doesn’t really give me a lot of confidence in him this week, but like Martin Truex showed us the past couple of seasons, the past doesn’t always tell us how a driver will run every week no matter what track they are on.
Clint Bowyer: Clint has gotten better and better every week. This is the type of track he really excels on and this could be the week he picks up his first win in a long time. I think this team will qualify well and run well the entire race this weekend and it won’t be a surprise to see him battling for the win late in the race this weekend at Martinsville.
Jamie McMurray: Jamie is still looking for his first win at this track and as a matter of fact, he has only finished in the top five here twice in twenty-eight starts here. Then again, he has finished in the top ten in fifteen of those races which tells me Jamie knows how to get around this track pretty well and if things fall in line for him he could surprise a lot of people by being in contention late in the race this weekend.
Matt Kenseth: Matt is another driver who has struggled with his finishing positions so far this season. His is not a matter of poor driving or poor equipment. He is struggling with bad luck, pure and simple. This might be the type of race this team needs to turn their fortunes around too. Matt is still looking for his first win at this track, but he has finished in the top six in five of his last seven starts here which tells me they have figured something out here and will probably continue to get better every time they come here.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Jamie McMurray
- Clint Bowyer
- Ryan Newman
- Austin Dillon
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Ty Dillon
- Daniel Suarez
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brad Keselowski
- Joey Logano
Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray
Stay Away From: Kurt Busch
Big 18: Jamie McMurray