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Denny Hamlin
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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

STP 500 Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver

Not including Daytona, which is more akin to a lottery than a predictable race, the average between where we predicted a driver would finish and where he actually finished this year has been 4.8 positions. Las Vegas (3.6) and Auto Club (4.3) have been to two most accurate venues.

Bear in mind that there are a lot of variable out of our control – such as Joey Logano’s cut tire in Atlanta Motor Speedway and last week’s blown engine for Clint Bowyer – but when driver doesn’t run into trouble, the Cheat Sheets have been incredibly accurate.

The trick for the fantasy owner is to decide whether the drivers listed below will be slightly better or worse than our prediction because small increments have meant the difference between winning and losing this year.


1. Kyle Busch
No matter how you look at the numbers. Busch deserves to be the top pick for Martinsville with recent wins this season, success on the track type, and at Martinsville specifically.

2. Brad Keselowski
For the past three years, Keselowski has been almost perfect at Martinsville with one victory, five top-fives, and a 10th.

3. Joey Logano
Logano's victory at Martinsville last fall was the sixth time he finished sixth or better in the last 10 races on this paperclip-shaped bullring. He has one other top-10 in that span.

4. Kevin Harvick
In his last 10 attempts on short, flat tracks, Harvick has a perfect record of top-10s with victories at Phoenix and New Hampshire tossed in for good measure.

5. Denny Hamlin
Now that Hamlin has a strong finish on one of the short, flat tracks (Phoenix), he needs to be watched closely at Martinsville. He's dominated there in the past.

6. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex has been getting progressively better at Martinsville and if not for contact in Turn 4 of the last lap last fall, he would have a victory to his credit.

7. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's victory in this race last year was one of six consecutive top-10s that he earned on short tracks. That streak ended at Martinsville in the fall, however, with a 21st.

8. Aric Almirola
Almirola has a lot of momentum on his side with four consecutive top-10s this season, but that will be put to the test this week. He has not earned a top 10 at Martinsville since 2014.

9. Chase Elliott
Hendrick Motorsports has traditionally been strong at Martinsville, but they seem to be going through a lull on most courses while they figure out the handling on the new Chevy.

10. Kurt Busch
No matter where the series goes, Busch has to be considered a contender this year as he continues to impress his new owner Chip Ganassi.

11. Ryan Blaney
Most of Blaney's efforts over the past two years on short, flat tracks have ended outside the top 10, so it is hard to believe he will sustain his current momentum.

12. Jimmie Johnson
If he shows any speed in practice whatsoever, Johnson should be one of the reserve drivers for this week given his historical record at Martinsville.

13. Ryan Newman
Short, flat tracks are drivers' courses and that should allow Newman to get a slightly better finish than the car has experienced on unrestricted, intermediate speedways.

14. Erik Jones
While he had a decent record on short, flat tracks during his rookie season, Jones has only one top-10 on this course type in the last two seasons.

15. Daniel Suarez
This could be a breakthrough week for Suarez. He scored three top-10s on short, flat tracks last year and had four such finishes as a rookie.

16. Kyle Larson
There is not really much of an outside line to run at Martinsville and that tends to slow Larson on the paperclip.

17. Austin Dillon
Dillon finished 30th in both of last year's Martinsville races, but he finished 18th or better in the five that preceded that. Two of those results were top-fives.

18. William Byron
Byron was 20th in this race last year, but he slipped to 39th in the fall after getting involved in an accident. A top-10 at Phoenix recently gives us a little added hope.

19. Alex Bowman
At the beginning of last year, Bowman was a solid value on short, flat tracks with six results of seventh through 18th. His last two Phoenix attempts were in the 30s.

20. Chris Buescher
Keep a close eye on Buescher this week. His 2019 results show marked improvement and he has four top-20s in his last five short, flat track races dating back to the Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire.

21. Ty Dillon
Depending on where Dillon starts, he could be a good value this week in games that offer place-differential points because he has consistently finished in the low-20s or better at Martinsville.

22. Paul Menard
Menard has been uneven at Martinsville during his career. In the best of circumstances, he is capable of scoring a top-10 - but he also has a fair share of 20-something results.

23. Daniel Hemric
Hemric has been the top rookie in most of the races this year, but in games that offer place-differential points he has been a questionable value with starts that fade quickly.

24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Three of Stenhouse's seven short, flat track races of 2018 ended in the 30s including a 37th in this race last year.

25. David Ragan
Ragan was a surprisingly good value last fall with an 18th to his credit at Martinsville. His previous three results all ended in the 20s, however.

26. Michael McDowell
The last six starts for McDowell at Martinsville have ended in a narrow range of results from 18th to 26th so look for him to wind up in that ballpark again.

27. Bubba Wallace
Wallace's two attempts at Martinsville last year ended in bitter disappointment and 34th-place finishes. He was better on the long short, flat tracks, however.

28. Matt DiBenedetto
The short, flat tracks have not been particularly kind to DiBenedetto and he has not yet performed up to expectations in the No. 95.

29. DJ Kennington
Kennington has made two previous starts at Martinsville with a moderately funded team and in both instances he finished among the top 30.

30. Matt Tifft
The best finish for this rookie was a 20th a couple of weeks ago at Phoenix. Martinsville behaves very similar even though it is half the size.

31. Ryan Preece
In the last four races on unrestricted tracks, Preece has alternated top-25s with results in the mid-30s so it's hard to know who is going to show up this week.

32. Ross Chastain
The results are not always eye-popping, but Chastain has been a consistently good value in salary cap games like Draft Kings.

33. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie has made four starts on short, flat tracks in the past two years. He's come close to cracking the top 25 twice, including his 26th two weeks ago in Phoenix.

34. Cody Ware
Ware's last two starts on short, flat tracks came at Phoenix with a 28th and 32nd. He should be watched for any sign of speed in Martinsville's prelims.

35. Landon Cassill
With the exception of a 26th last fall at Phoenix, Cassill's past two seasons on short, flat tracks ended in the mid- to high-30s.

36. Jeb Burton
It would be nice to think Burton could make a lot of noise on his home track, but in the second car of a moderately funded team, that is not likely.

 

Most Accurate Predictions This Year

Driver

Average Difference

Times Within 3

 

Denny Hamlin

2.2

4

Cody Ware

2.4

4

Austin Dillon

2.6

3

Ryan Newman

3.4

3

Kyle Busch

3.4

3

Landon Cassill

3.6

3

Matt Tifft

4.0

4

Jimmie Johnson

4.4

2

David Ragan

4.6

2

William Byron

4.8

2

Daniel Suarez

4.8

1

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.