It wouldn’t be NASCAR if we didn’t have a wacky scenario half the time. Last weekend it was a third of the field not being able to qualify. This weekend? Snow. Luckily, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was able to get a couple of practice sessions in on Saturday, but Mother Nature had different plans for qualifying, and the starting lineup for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway was set by owners points. Unfortunately, NASCAR went with a “condensed” schedule this weekend and didn’t qualify on Friday when it was 50 degrees and clear.
The full starting lineup for Sunday’s race can be found by clicking here. And as mentioned before, there were two practice sessions on Saturday, and you can find the practice speeds here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour. Be sure to read our in-depth practice notes as well for each of those sessions: Practice #1 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Martinsville
1. Kyle Busch – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $11,000
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
I had Kyle Busch winning at Fontana last weekend and that didn’t happen, but maybe I was just a week early. “Rowdy” is the best racer here at Martinsville Speedway right now, and his stats over the last four races here are just ridiculous: 813 laps led, an average driver rating of 134.6, two wins, and a worst finish of 5th. Yeah, pretty good, right? Surprisingly enough, those are Kyle Busch’s only two victories here at “The Paperclip” but he’s posted top 5 finishes in over half of his 25 career starts here and has an average finish of 13.1–good enough for 4th-best among active drivers. He was 3rd-fastest in Practice #1 on Saturday morning and then ended up 4th-fastest in Happy Hour. Rowdy had the 2nd-best ten-lap average in each of those sessions and should be up front all day on Sunday. Kyle hasn’t finished worse than 3rd since Atlanta and that’s not going to change this weekend.
2. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $10,700
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Here’s an interesting statistic for you: Martin Truex, Jr. has never won at a short track. That’s going to change soon, though. This #78 team made some huge advancements with their short track packages last season, and as far as Martinsville goes, Martin posted a career-best finish of 2nd here last fall. In addition to that, Truex has led at least 23 laps in four of the last six races here at Martinsville, including 147 laps led from the pole in the fall 2016 race. This weekend, the #78 team is coming off of a dominating effort in California and look to have another great (not just good) car here in Virginia; Truex ranked P1 in both overall lap and ten-lap average during Practice #1 on Saturday morning, and then ranked 3rd in ten-lap average with the fastest overall lap in Happy Hour. He seemed a little concerned about how good the car is on the long runs, but Martin was the exact same way at Fontana last weekend and we all know how that played out.
3. Brad Keselowski – Starts 4th – DraftKings Price: $10,100
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
It’s pretty easy to overlook how good of a 2018 season Brad Keselowski is having thus far; after finishing 2nd at Atlanta, BK posted a 6th-place result at Las Vegas, then gambled at Phoenix and it didn’t work, so he ended up finishing 15th. The #2 team rebounded at Fontana last week, though, with a 4th-place finish, and the Blue Deuce should be a top 5 car once again here at Martinsville on Sunday. Keselowski has just one victory here at “The Paperclip,” but that win came in this race one year ago, and he followed that up with a 4th-place finish in the fall race. Overall, Kez has four straight top 5 finishes here at Martinsville, and has wound up inside that mark in five of the last six. Keselowski has also led at least 100 laps in three of the last five races here. This weekend, the #2 Ford had top 2 speed in both practice sessions on Saturday and then ended up with the best ten-lap average in Happy Hour. Keselowski is a definite STP 500 contender on Sunday.