The NASCAR Sprint Cup series moves to Martinsville Speedway for the 33rd race of the 2012 season, the Tums Fast Relief 500. NASCAR Fantasy expert Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, October 28, 2012; 2 p.m./et.
Weather: Showers with a high around 54; wind out of the NNW at 10 mph. There is a 30% chance of precipitation.
The Track: The Half Mile Paperclip
Martinsville Speedway is a half mile paperclip shaped track with intermediate 12 degree banking on the turns. It is a smaller version of New Hampshire Motor Speedway so teams often use the same car and a similar setup at both tracks. Drivers that are successful at NHMS often run well at Martinsville.
Key to Race: LOOK OUT FOR THE HENDRICK BOYS
Hendrick Motorsports and Denny Hamlin have dominated Martinsville lately. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Denny Hamlin have combined to win 12 of the last 16 races at the track. If it isn't a member of this foursome taking the checkers we will be surprised.
45 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has 12 top 10 finishes in 15 career starts at Martinsville. He won three of the past six races at the track and is our favorite to win on Sunday.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has won five of the past 12 races at Martinsville. We expect the No. 48 team could be headed back to Victory Lane to claim yet another one of Martinsville’s Grandfather Clocks.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin are the only drivers not named Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon to win a race at Martinsville since 2004. Smoke will eat a ton of the track’s famous red hot dogs and have the No. 14 near the front most of this weekend.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has seven career wins atMartinsville. He will crack the top five and could win with a little luck.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has averaged a 13th place finish at M’ville during his career. We like his chances to improve on his average this trip to Virginia.
6 to 10
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has managed to avoid trouble atMartinsvilleduring his career. He should continue to avoid the frequent accidents and crack the top 10.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman won the spring race at M’ville and has qualified inside the top 10 in 15 of his 20 Cup starts at the track. His strong qualifying skills will help Newman start in the front and stay there.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards cracked the top 10 in five of the last eight races at Martinsville. He should be the top Roush-Fenway driver this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has cracked the top 11 in eight of his last 11 starts at Martinsville. We like his chances on Sunday.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: A-Dub ran strong at M’ville this spring and has been driving well lately. He is an option in all leagues.
11 to 20
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior is back behind the wheel of the No. 88 after missing the past two races with concussion symptoms. He has finished in the top seven in 13 of his 25 career starts at Martinsville, but his head injury bumps him from our top 10.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch has had plenty of past success at short-tracks, but his lack of patience bumps him from our top 10.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. ran well at Martinsville in three of the last five races. He is a decent third driver and a great fourth driver in most leagues.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has just three top five finishes in 25 Cup starts at Martinsville. He isn’t a tremendous option this weekend.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has been very good at M’ville during his career. He is worth using in most leagues.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has been great on short-tracks during his career. This is a good opportunity to use the Terrific Tasmanian.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has finished inside the top 16 in seven of his 11 career starts at Martinsville. This is a rare weekend that we recommend the No. 42 car.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has finished in the top 10 in 11 of his 19 career
Martinsville starts. This is a good weekend to use the No. 1 car.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has led just 18 laps in 16 career starts at Martinsville he isn't a great choice this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has just two top 10 finishes in 19 career starts at Martinsville. There are far better weekends to use The Biff.
21 to 30
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has averaged a 16th place finish at Martinsville during his career. He should finish a little worse than his average this weekend.
No. 55 Brian Vickers: Vickers has been a top 20 driver at Martinsville during his career. He is a nice play to round-out your roster.
No. 51 AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger has only six top 30 finishes in 10 career starts at Martinsville. Even with his second place finish at the track this spring we don’t like him nearly as much in the No. 51 car. This isn’t the best weekend to use him.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 21st place finish at Martinsville during his career. We love him as a sleeper this week.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has averaged a 23rd place finish at Martinsville during his career. He is definitely worth using in the deepest leagues.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte is always a threat at Martinsville. Plug him into the No. 5 spot in your roster.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has cracked the top 27 in 10 of his 11 career starts at Martinsville. He will do it again this weekend.
No. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch has really struggled at Martinsville lately. There are much better weekends to use the No. 78 driver.
No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish Jr. has averaged a 28th place finish at M’ville in his career. He will finish right around his average this weekend.
No. 10 David Reutimann: Reutimann isn’t an option this weekend. There are far better choices.
No. 10 David Reutimann
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 91 Reed Sorenson
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 37 J.J. Yeley
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 26 Josh Wise
No. 33 TBD
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Tony Stewart
4. Jeff Gordon
1. Aric Almirola
2. Marcos Ambrose
Bust of the Week: