Chris Buescher – Chris Buescher has some dark horse potential at Martinsville. He ran well last spring, and his teammate AJ Allmendinger has thrived here. This year his team JTG Daugherty Racing has an engineering alliance with Hendrick Motorsports and that certainly shouldn’t hurt his chances of coming home with a good result. Last fall at Martinsville, Buescher didn’t have a great performance. He finished 21st and had a 25th place average running position. Last spring Buescher snuck in an 11th place finish. Additionally he had an 18th place average running position and earned the 20th best driver rating. He closed out strong and was at his best at the end. In his other three Martinsville races which carry no fantasy relevance because of his equipment he finished 24th or worse. On Sunday at Martinsville I would look for Buecsher to likely finish around the high-teens to low-twenties.
Daniel Suarez – Now that Daniel Suarez has a year under his belt I would view him as a sleeper heading into Martinsville. His track record isn’t that great (23.5 average finish), but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he challenges for a top ten. Last fall at Martinsville Suarez had a respectable performance. In the race he started 15th, finished 15th and had a 15th place average running position. I will note he did spend time running in the top ten late in the race. With 20 laps to go in that event before the late cautions started he was running in 14th. Last spring at Martinsville I would void his performance and pretend it never happened. He’s a much better driver now than he was in early 2017. In that event he started in the back, got lapped early, and then later wrecked. Since I view him as a much improved driver I have no fantasy takeaways from that race. On Sunday I would view him as a low-double digit to mid-teens performer who has a good chance of sneaking in a top ten.
Kyle Larson – Martinsville is a weak spot on the schedule for Kyle Larson. He’s down on his confidence here and if you’re in an allocation league I would absolutely avoid him. He’s shown promise at Martinsville in the past, but overall it just isn’t a good idea to pick him. That said I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he challenges for a top ten. Last year at Martinsville Larson didn’t have a good season. Last fall he wasn’t competitive and when the race reached its conclusion he finished 37th after wrecking. At the time of his wreck he was running in 23rd. Last spring he had an OK car. In the race he started on the pole, led the first 23 laps, had an 11th place average running position, earned the 11th best driver rating but finished 17th. I will note his finish is misleading. With 5 laps to go he had some sort of electrical issue that was dropping him back in the field. With just 28 laps to go he was in 9th. In fall 2016 he had a respectable showing. At one point he passed Truex Jr. for the lead and then paced the field for 6 laps. After he did that early in the race, he looked like a solid performer for the remainder of the event. When the race reached its conclusion he had an 11th place average running position and finished 14th. In April 2016 Larson was very competitive and was a solid top five performer. He finished 3rd, earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position.
Ty Dillon – Ty Dillon doesn’t have a good race at Martinsville on his resume. That said I also don’t think he has a lot of upside and probably his ceiling is a high-teens finish. Last fall at Martinsville on lap 35 he was involved in a minor accident that inflicted some front damage to his car. At the time of that incident he was running in the mid-twenties. After that he never ran remotely well. When the checkered flag waved he finished 30th and had a 34th place average running position. In spring 2017 when he made his Martinsville debut there was nothing to brag about. He was a low-twenties driver and nothing more. In the race he finished 22nd, had a 23rd place average running position and earned the 26th best driver rating.
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 and had a 20th place average running position. 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.
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.
Michael McDowell – Micheal McDowell should be viewed as a high-teens to mid-twenties driver at Martinsville. Over his last four races here he’s finished between 18th to 26th. I think another finish around that range should be more than expected. Additionally over the last four races he has a 21.8 average finish and a 24.8 average running position. Last fall McDowell finished 19th and had a 25th place average running position. Last spring he didn’t run well. He finished 26th and had a 28th place average running position. In 2016 he had a better season and had results of 18th and 24th.
Darrell Wallace Jr. – Like most young drivers there’s a ton of unknowns revolving around Darrell Wallace Jr at Martinsville. One thing is for certain and its that Martinsville is a tough track for rookies. Wallace does have a few starts under his belt here in the Truck Series, but its been a while. In 2014 when he last raced here in Kyle Busch’s Truck he had results of 1st and 2nd for the season. In both of those races he started on the pole. I don’t think that really translates into much though when you consider he was in superior equipment and that certainly won’t be the case this time around. On Sunday I would view him as a high-teens driver and then hope for the best.
William Byron – William Byron is a tremendously talented driver, that said Martinsville is a place where you might want to have him on the bench. It’s a tough track for rookies and and young drivers have historically had tough time. That said if you’re in an allocation league I would avoid picking him. In 2016 at Martinsville in the Truck Series Byron had a successful year. That season he finished 3rd in the spring and 8th in the fall. This weekend I would view him as a mid-teens driver and then hope for the best.