Martinsville Speedway always provides some great racing action, and this weekend will be no different as Round 3 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs gets going. There are a couple key items to finishing well here at “The Paperclip,” with one being having a good-handling race car, while the second is having good fortune on restarts. The preferred lane here is the inside lane, and if a car gets stuck on the outside after a restart, they can easily be freight-trained. This can be devastating late in the race.
Joey Logano is on the pole for today’s race at Martinsville. The full starting lineup can be found by clicking here. As far as practice goes, the speeds from those two sessions can be found here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour, and, as always, our in-depth practice notes can be found here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour. I also included ten-lap average practice ranks for my top 15 drivers below, just for quick reference.
Final Top 25 Rankings for the First Data 500
1. Chase Elliott – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $9,400 – Yahoo! B Group
***Practice #1 rank = 5th … Happy Hour rank = 10th***
Don’t be surprised if Chase Elliott challenges for his first career win today. It took him a few tries to get used to the racing here at Martinsville in the Cup Series, but the fact that Chase finished 3rd here back in April is something that this team can definitely build upon. Additionally, this #24 crew is firing on all cylinders right now, and their car was one of the most consistent (speed-wise) during the practice sessions on Saturday. Kyle Busch took the win from Elliott at Dover earlier this month, so it’d be quite funny if Chase returned the favor to the consensus favorite today.
2. Kyle Busch – Starts 14th – DraftKings Price: $11,000 – Yahoo! A Group
***Practice #1 rank = 1st … Happy Hour rank = 1st***
The #18 Toyota was the best car here in the spring race and the same is true this weekend. Now it all comes down to whether or not Kyle Busch will be able to put his car in victory lane today. In addition to being blazing fast in both practice sessions this weekend, Rowdy qualified 14th but should be able to lead a bunch of laps once he gets to the front. The #18 team also got to pick 7th for their pit stall this weekend, which is pretty good. Here at Martinsville, Kyle Busch is currently on a four-race streak of top 5 finishes, and he should make it five in a row today. He’s going to be one of the cars to beat.
3. Denny Hamlin – Starts 6th – DraftKings Price: $9,200 – Yahoo! A Group
***Practice #1 rank = 3rd … Happy Hour rank = 12th***
Due to this #11 team’s qualifying effort at Kansas last weekend, they get (presumably) the 4th-best stall at Martinsville this weekend, as if you needed another reason to like Denny Hamlin in Fantasy NASCAR this weekend. Martinsville is a great track for this guy, as five of his Cup Series wins have came at “The Paperclip,” most recently in 2015. Hamlin was noted as saying that they were “close” to being a race-winning car this weekend, and any time he’s somewhat optimistic about his chances, he has a damn good car to work with. Denny wasn’t as fast in Happy Hour on Saturday as he was in Practice #1, but that’s really my only concern with him today.