For the first time in 2019, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will visit a short track. Martinsville Speedway will host Sunday’s STP 500, and while the flat, paperclip-shaped oval is the smallest and slowest track on the schedule, it usually ends up producing some of the most exciting racing as aerodynamics often take a back seat to bumping and banging.
Flat tracks already tend to favor some drivers more than others, and a short track like Martinsville can further tip the scales. From Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip to Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Rusty Wallace, certain drivers have been able to enjoy dominant stretches here and pile up a ton of wins.
Today, drivers like Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are among the current kings of Martinsville, and I won’t be shy about anchoring my lineups with these dominant drivers. Of course, big names aren’t the only drivers who run well here. A driver like Clint Bowyer, who is a Top 10 contender most weeks, is a legitimate threat for the win at Martinsville. Other drivers enjoy boosts in their ceilings, as well.
Granted, I won’t be discounting what I have observed on the track so far this season, but I will lean a little more heavily on past results at Martinsville than I will on results in 2019. If you are tired of all the talk about the new rules packages and changes, this is the race for you.
1. Kyle Busch, #18 M&M’s, Joe Gibbs Racing
Busch has been the best driver in the series in 2019, and he’s also been the best driver at Martinsville for a while now. He has reeled off seven straight Top 5 finishes at the short track, winning twice and leading at least 100 laps four times in that span. He’s my top pick in all formats this weekend.
2. Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite/Discount Tires, Team Penske
He has a hot streak of his own at Martinsville, and Keselowski has cracked the Top 10 in his last six starts here. More importantly, he has five Top 5s in that stretch, picking up a win and lead 40-plus laps three times.
3. Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske
Logano has been the model of consistency at Martinsville, tying for the series lead with seven Top 10s in the last 10 races at the track. He also led 309 laps in a win here last fall. Even if you don’t start him in the race, you may want to use him for qualifying points. Logano has a 2.9 average starting position and four poles in the last 10 races here.
4. Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing
Martinsville has always been a great stop for Hamlin, and his five wins, 13 Top 5s and 19 Top 10s are all his most at any track. He has four Top 3 finishes in the last eight races here, including a win. Hamlin also led 111 laps in the spring race a year ago before finishing second in the fall event. He’s a Top 5 fantasy option this weekend.
5. Martin Truex, Jr., #19 Bass Pro Shops, Joe Gibbs Racing
While he might not be known as a short track ace, Truex has finished fourth or better in each of the last three races at Martinsville, and he has led some laps in six of the last eight races here. I wouldn’t ignore him this weekend, especially in the Fantasy Live format.