Wasn’t that a great qualifying session at California last week followed by an exciting race? In the last round none of the drivers got a time as none of them completed their lap on time. So far this year the racing and qualifying have stunk it up in my opinion. I wonder how far NASCAR is going to let it go before they lose a bunch of their fan base? Do we really want to waste our time watching when there are only two cars within nine-seconds of the winner?
After three weeks out west the series heads back east to the Martinsville Speedway
for the running of the STP 500. Martinsville is the shortest track on the circuit and this is the shortest race of the season. This is a very flat track and qualifying is very important here because this is how teams select their pit stalls. With this track being so short there are pit stalls all the way around the track. When the race starts those at the back of the pack will be almost a half a lap behind and they can get lapped in a hurry. If you have a problem during the race and have to pit under green you are going to lose multiple laps and will fight the rest of the day to get them back.
Kyle is my pick to win the race this week at Martinsville. He finished second in this race last season and won the fall race in 2017. He has started in the top five in the last seven races he started here and has led 937 laps in those seven races. He is one of the most consistent drivers at this track lately.
Denny is another driver who usually runs well at this track. In his last nine starts here he has led laps in every race except one. He finished second here last fall and has six top ten finishes in his last nine starts. He is a good group B driver to have on your roster this week.
Jimmie leads all active drivers with nine wins and has led 2863 laps here in his career. That is almost twice as many as any other active driver. However, he has struggled a bit here lately with only two top ten finishes in his last nine starts. One of those was a win back in the fall of the 2016 season. I think Jimmie has a better chance of running well on the short tracks than the intermediate tracks at this point of the season.
Brad is on a streak of six straight top ten finishes at Martinsville and five of those have been top five finishes including his lone win at this track in April of the 2017 season. This team has looked sharp in every race so far this season. I think he should be on your team once again this week.
Joey won the race here last fall and has an impressive streak of starting in the top ten here twelve straight races including four poles. The Penske teams are by far the most consistent across the board so far this year. Another stat for Joey at this track is that he has led laps in nine of his last ten starts. He will probably do it all again.
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin is another driver who is streaking at Martinsville. In his last eight races here, Martin has started in the top three six times, finished in the top ten six times and led laps in six of those races. He is still looking for his first short track win in his career and has been very consistent all season.
Clint won this race last season and has been better on the short tracks than the intermediate tracks in his career. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing Clint has finished in the top ten in three of his four races at this track. I think he rebounds from a rough week in California and is a contender in this week’s race.
This is not one of Kevin’s best tracks to run on. In thirty-five starts he has one win, and five top five finishes. Although he might not get a lot of top five finishes here, he does get a lot of top ten finishes with seventeen of them in his thirty-five starts. I just think there are better tracks to use his starts at.
Chase Elliott: Chase has gotten better and better here in his short career. He has finished in the top ten in three of his last four starts at this track. I think the short tracks offer better chances for the Hendrick teams to win races at this point of the season as it doesn’t seem like they have a handle on the new aero package yet.
Ryan Blaney: Ryan led 145 laps in this race last year and came away with a third place finish. This team has had good short run speed this season, but haven’t been able to maintain it like his teammates have. This will all come with better communication and a better understanding of the new aero package. This race will be totally different and I look for Ryan to run with the leaders most of the day.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kyle Busch
- Joey Logano
Driver Group Game Group B
- Denny Hamlin
- Clint Bowyer
- Jimmie Johnson
- Ryan Newman
Driver Group Game Group C
- Ty Dillon
- Chris Buescher
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse: Ryan Newman
Stay Away From: William Byron
Big 18: Denny Hamlin