1) Denny Hamlin (Starting – 8th)
Martinsville Bottom Line – Denny Hamlin will be tough to beat at Martinsville. He’s a super-elite performer at the paper clip, and he’s won here nearly a quarter of the time (23.8% win percentage). In incident free races he’s as good of a default fantasy pick as they come. He’s finished in the top five 52% percent of the time, and in the top ten 76% percent of the time. In all five races he’s finished outside the top ten you can put an asterisk mark next to the result. On Sunday look for Denny Hamlin to run up front and challenge for the win.
Martinsville Track History – Martinsville is a good track for Hamlin and is arguably his best. His average finish is 9.5 and he’s only higher in that statistic at Darlington. In recent races at Martinsville he’s performed at a very high level. This spring he had top five potential but finished an Asterisk Mark 39th. That misleading result can be chalked up to him wheel hopping on lap 211 while running in the top ten and then careening with the wall. When he was interviewed after his wreck he thought he had the fastest car on the track at the time of his trouble. Last fall Hamlin had a strong car and finished 3rd. That’s remarkable when you consider he got a speeding penalty in the first 100 laps, and a speeding penalty in the last 100 laps. In spring 2015 he had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. In that race he earned the best driver rating and led 91 laps. In fall 2014 he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position, finished 8th and led 68 laps.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,000
2) Kyle Busch (Starting – 9th)
Martinsville Bottom Line – Kyle Busch will be a favorite to win at Martinsville after the dominance he displayed this spring en route to victory lane. On Sunday I don’t think he’ll be that strong again, but he’s certainly a top five contender. Recently at Martinsville he’s been one of the stronger performers. Since fall 2012 he has the 3rd best driver rating, the second best average finish (7.6), the second best average running position (7.7) and has led the 2nd most laps (442). In four of those seven races he’s finished in the top five. In practice Kyle Busch showed good speed over long runs.
Martinsville Track History – This spring nobody was better than Kyle Busch. In the race he finished 1st, had the best driver rating by a wide margin, had a 2nd place average running position and led 352 laps. Last fall Kyle Busch spun but he battled his way back to a 5th place finish. Also in that race he earned the 7th best driver rating and had a 9th place average running position. In 2014 he finished 11th and 14th. In the two races prior to that he finished 2nd and 5th.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,700
Further Recommended Reading – Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Practice Notes/ Practice Speeds Center, Starting Lineup, Yahoo Start Page, DraftKings Start Page, PROS Rankings, Asterisk Mark Report
3) Joey Logano (Starting – 2nd)
Martinsville Bottom Line – Joey Logano is poised for a strong showing at Martinsville. He has momentum on his side and recently he’s been one of the strongest Martinsville performers. In practice Joey Logano had good short run speed and long run speed. On Sunday I would look for him to compete for a top five finish.
Martinsville Track History – Joey Logano is a border-line elite Martinsville performer. He’s been knocking on the door to victory lane in recent races and has been top five good in 4 of the last 5 events. This spring “performance wise” he had his worst recent Martinsville race and finished 11th. Early in the race he looked like garbage, in the second half he rallied back and finished 11th. Last fall Logano was the class of the field but was wrecked while leading. Before he wrecked he led 207 laps. In spring 2015 Logano had a great car and was a serious threat to win. He started on the pole, finished 3rd and led 108 laps. What makes that more impressive is that he spun. In 2014 at Martinsville he swept the top five with results of 4th and 5th.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $9,800