Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – I don’t know what happened to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Martinsville but last year he finished 10th both races. That’s shocking because he’s been so bad here and in the past I’ve called him “A Caution Waiting To Happen.” Last fall he legitimately ran well and when the checkered flag waved he finished 10th. Over the last 100 laps he consistently ran within a few deviations of 10th. In spring 2017 when the checkered flag waved he finished 10th. Also in the race it should be noted he spun on lap 70 which dropped him a lap down. What makes his good finish even more shocking is that in the four races prior to that he had a 37.75 average finish. His results in those events were 40th, 32nd, 39th and 40th. Although Stenhouse Jr. was successful in 2017 I really think you need to pick him at your own risk. Personally I would just view him as a high-teens driver and then get out the good luck charms.
AJ Allmendinger – Martinsville is a great track for AJ Allmendinger and ranks as one of his best. Outside of road courses he doesn’t have a better track on the schedule. Since 2014 he’s only twice finished lower than 11th, and both of those results deserves an asterisk mark. Since 2014 minus the two races he’s had problems he has an 8.2 average finish and an 11.5 average running position. What I don’t like about Allmendinger is his 2018 on track performance. This year minus the Daytona 500 his average finish is 25.5. Last fall at Martinsville, Allmendinger had a troubled race. On lap 88 while he was in 22nd he had contact with Patrick that damaged his car and brought out the caution. A little bit later when his team tried to repair his car he didn’t beat the repair clock and it marked the end of his race leading to his 40th place result. Last spring Allmendinger started in 30th but raced his way up to a 6th place finish. In 2016 he had a great season and was one of just four drivers who swept the top ten. In fall 2016 he finished 10th. In spring 2016 he had a great car and at the end of the race he was moving drivers like Johnson and Keselowski out of the way. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 2nd, earned the 6th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position.
Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman has four starts on his resume at Martinsville, but I wouldn’t consider any of them relevant. He was in uncompetitive equipment in the past and he last raced here in 2015. In his most recent race in fall 2015 he had his best result and finished 22nd. Since there’s a lot of unknowns at Martinsville with him I would view him as a mid-teens driver at best. He’s in good equipment and I’m sure he’s putting in overtime leading up to the race on simulators so you never know.