We’re five races in to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have yet to find victory lane…just as everyone expected, right? The good news, for them, is that these two organizations have been the best here at Martinsville for quite some time. The bad news is that the competition looks to have definitely caught up to the Gibbs and Hendrick cars at this track.
Thanks to rain on Friday, qualifying was cancelled and the field was set by owners points. Kyle Larson is on the pole for Sunday’s STP 500 and the full starting lineup can be found by clicking here. There were two practice sessions held on Saturday and you can find the speeds for those by clicking here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour. Please keep in mind that NASCAR had a bunch of technical difficulties with their ten-lap averages, and as of this post, neither of them were correct. Therefore, our in-depth notes are more important than ever, and those can be found here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Ranking For The Martinsville STP 500
1. Joey Logano – Starts 5th – DraftKings Price: $10,100 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low-to-Medium Risk**
Joey Logano has an awful paint scheme on his #22 Ford this weekend but I’ll let that slide if he gets me the fantasy points I need. Like his teammate, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano has yet to win at Martinsville Speedway, but he’s knocked on the door a couple of times. He’s actually led the most laps here over the last four races (357) and part of that is due to the fact that Joey has qualified on the front row in each of the last five Martinsville races. He won’t start that high this weekend thanks to qualifying getting rained out, but 5th isn’t too terrible, either. Aside from the disappointing finish at Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, Logano has been a Fantasy NASCAR stud this season and that should continue here on Sunday. Speed-wise the #22 Ford was 4th-fastest in Practice #2 and had the 6th-best lap in Happy Hour. As far as ten-lap average goes, Joey ranked 3rd in that final session but seemed to be the fastest as the cars went later on into the run (30+ laps). Logano hasn’t posted a finish better than 9th in the last three Martinsville races but that should change this weekend.
2. Kyle Busch – Starts 10th – DraftKings Price: $10,300 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Joe Gibbs Racing may not have any wins thus far in 2017, but Kyle Busch could very easily change that this weekend. The #18 Toyota has been the fastest car out of the Gibbs organization all season long, and that is once again the case here at Martinsville. Kyle probably would have challenged for the pole if qualifying didn’t get rained out on Sunday, but it did so he will have to start back in 10th. Not a big disadvantage but it’s still going to take some patience out of Rowdy. Practice-wise, Busch was 8th on the overall speed chart in Practice #2 on Saturday morning and wound up 2nd-fastest with the best ten-lap average during Happy Hour later that day. He also had the best 15- and 20-lap averages in that final session. Looking at recent races here at “The Paperclip,” Rowdy absolutely dominated this race last season en route to his first victory at the track, and he is currently on a three-race streak of top 5s here at Martinsville. Look for him to make it four in a row here on Sunday.
3. Brad Keselowski – Starts 4th – DraftKings Price: $9,500 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Brad Keselowski has never won here at Martinsville Speedway but that is going to change soon, as he does have two 2nd-place finishes to his credit over the last two years here, as well as six results of 6th or better in the last nine races. This weekend, Keselowski will start from the 2nd row when the STP 500 goes green and he should be among the front runners all day long. Simply watching Practice #2 on Saturday morning, you could tell that the Blue Deuce was one of the strongest cars on the track, so it wasn’t all that surprising that Kez laid down the fastest lap in that session. In Happy Hour, he ranked 4th on the overall speed chart and 4th in ten-lap average as well. After last weekend’s rebound top 5 finish at Fontana, Keselowski now has four straight top 5 finishes in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup action, which is the best run of his career. Will he be able to extend that on Sunday? Absolutely.