The MENCS competes at Martinsville Speedway this week in the STP 500. Allocations are very important in the Driver Group Game and the short tracks are great races to try and squeeze a start out of a driver you may not use as much this season. That will be my strategy Sunday.
Here are my picks for Martinsville…
Kyle Busch (9): Busch has dominated the last four races at this track and it has not even been close. Busch has led 813 laps and the next driver with the most laps led is Brad Keselowski with 224. Busch has not finished outside the top 5 at Martinsville since 2014. I am not too concerned with using allocations in Group A since there is so much talent to get us through 36 races. Busch is the safest pick in the field this week.
Group A Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Brad Keselowski 3) Martin Truex Jr. 4) Joey Logano 5) Denny Hamlin 6) Kyle Larson 7) Kevin Harvick 8) Jimmie Johnson
Clint Bowyer (9): Bowyer is off to one of the best starts of his career. I think he will continue to run well Sunday. Bowyer finished 3rd and 7th in his races at Martinsville last year. He is running a lot better in 2018, so I would not be surprised if Bowyer is the best pick in Group B this week. Martinsville is his 3rd-best track so this is a good week to use an allocation with Bowyer.
Ryan Newman (9): The No. 31 team unloaded with a lot of speed this week. Newman had the 5th fastest speed in final practice with the 4th-best 20-lap average speed. His car is very good on the long run. Newman is one of the hardest drivers to pass and this is on2 of the hardest tracks to make a pass at. If he gets to the front it will be very difficult to get around Newman Sunday.
Group B Rankings: 1) Clint Bowyer 2) Chase Elliott 3) Ryan Newman 4) Austin Dillon 5) Ryan Blaney 6) Aric Almirola 7) Jamie McMurray 8) Kurt Busch
Chris Buescher (9): I will take a chance with Buescher this week. Last year he qualified 33rd and finished 11th in this race. He said that his teammate (AJ Allmendinger) really helped him figure out how to make fast laps at this track. Buescher should be able to finish inside the top 20 Sunday.
None of the drivers in this group looked very good in practice, so I have no problem taking a chance with a driver I do not plan to use much this season.
Group C Rankings: 1) Alex Bowman 2) William Byron 3) Chris Buescher 3) Darrell Wallace Jr. 4) David Ragan 5) Michael McDowell
Good luck this week!
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