The Cup Series will travel back to Martinsville Raceway for some hotdogs and to set the field for the Championship Four next week at Phoenix. If you love excitement, this is the race for you. The final race at Martinsville has a history of drivers getting dumped in the final laps and fist flying on pit road after the race. Joey Logano is the only driver who is locked into the championship race at Phoenix. Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe will be looking to join Logano in the championship race. It should be fun to watch. The Xfinity 500 can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.
STRATEGY FOR MARTINSVILLE
Running low with allocations with your top drivers? Don’t worry… everyone is in the same situation with only two races left in the season. Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman missing races have really made Group B tough to navigate. Do not panic because there are some drivers who you likely have some allocations left who had success in the first race at Martinsville.
Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney were the best drivers from Group A at Martinsville in April. These two drivers are the best choices for Group A but you can take a chance with Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin if you are out of allocations with Elliott and Blaney. Rowdy and Hamlin did not look great at Martinsville in April but they have historically been two of the best drivers at Martinsville.
The best drivers from Group B are Joey Logano, William Byron and Christopher Bell. I am out of allocations with Byron and Bell, but I would make sure they are in your lineup if you have any allocations left. I will roster Logano this week, but I want to save him for Phoenix if possible. Ross Chastain does not have a history of running well at Martinsville but he finished 5th in April and he has a lot to race for this week. Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe, Austin Dillon all looked really good at Martinsville in the spring. These are the three drivers you need to consider for Group B if you are out of allocations with Logano, Byron and Bell.
Group C is tough this week. The only driver who stands out is Austin Cindric and I am out of allocations with the No. 2 car. Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones have consistently run well this year, so these two drivers are in consideration. AJ Allmendinger looked good last week and he has a history of running well at Martinsville because he is so good at out-braking the competition into the corners. Noah Gragson will be in a fast car (he is filling in for Alex Bowman), but he does not have much experience at Martinsville.
Here are the picks for the Xfinity 500 …
DRIVER GROUP GAME LINEUP
GROUP A DRIVERS
CHASE ELLIOTT (1): Elliott has been the class of the field at Martinsville and if you have any allocations left with the No. 9 car, you need to have Elliott in your lineup. He won the pole and led 185 laps in April and he qualified second and led 289 laps in this race last year. Elliott has also won the last four Stages at Martinsville. NASCAR’s most popular driver will have a good chance to win Sunday.
RYAN BLANEY (5): Blaney will have a good chance to win if it is not Chase Elliott in Victory Lane. Blaney has a fifth-place average finishing position in his last seventh races at Martinsville. Blaney started 12th, scored 11 Stage Points and finished fourth at Martinsville in April. The No. 12 car has scored the fourth-most points in the Driver Group Game on the flat tracks this year. He is the second-best choice in Group A this week.
GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Chase Elliott 2) Ryan Blaney 3) Kyle Busch 4) Denny Hamlin 5) Martin Truex Jr. 6) Kevin Harvick 7) Kyle Larson
GROUP B DRIVERS
JOEY LOGANO (1): What should we do with Logano Sunday? Martinsville is one of his best tracks but he is almost a lock to run up front next week at Phoenix. Logano finished second at Martinsville in April. His average finishing position in his last six races at the track is fifth. I plan to have Logano on my team as an insurance policy. I will save Logano for Phoenix if any of my other drivers look good in practice and qualify up front. If they all suck, I will pull the trigger and use Logano Sunday.
ROSS CHASTAIN (1): Chastain does not have a history of running well at Martinsville but he had some success in April and he has a lot to race for Sunday. Chastain started 27th and used his aggressive driving style to finish fifth. I am a bit concerned with other drivers (Denny Hamlin) dumping Chastain Sunday, but if he looks good in practice and qualifies in the top-10, I will take my chances with Chastain at Martinsville.
CHASE BRISCOE (4): Briscoe will likely have to win the race to make it to the Championship Four. Stewart-Haas Racing looked really good at Martinsville in April. Briscoe will have the best car SHR has in their fleet this week and he will have full support from Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola to help him get his car dialed in for the race. Briscoe finished ninth at Martinsville in April. He should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
ARIC ALMIROLA (8): The last choice for Group B came down to Austin Dillon and Almirola. Dillon had the best car on the long-runs in April at Martinsville, but I do not trust the No. 3 team. Almirola is a flat track specialist. He qualified second, scored 10 Stage Points and finished eighth at Martinsville in April. Alimirola also finished sixth in this race last year. He is a great driver to use if you are out of allocations with the top drivers this week.
GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) William Byron 2) Joey Logano 3) Christopher Bell 4) Ross Chastain 5) Aric Almirola 6) Chase Briscoe 7) Austin Dillon 8) Brad Keselowski 9) Bubba Wallace 10) Chris Buescher
GROUP C DRIVERS
ERIK JONES (1): Jones has been one of the biggest surprises in the 2022 season. He has consistently exceeded expectations this year. I expect Jones will have another good race Sunday. He finished eighth in this race last year and he finished 13th at Martinsville in April. Jones should be the best driver to use if you are out of allocations with Austin Cindric.
AJ ALLMENDINGER (6): I was worried about using Allmendinger because I did not know if he could compete with the Cup Series regulars and then Allmendinger went out and finished third last week at Homestead. Allmendinger only finished 24th at Martinsville in April, but he is a lot better in the Gen-7 car than he was early in the season. Allmendinger finished seventh at Bristol and 16th at New Hampshire in his last two short-track races. I will take my chances with Allmendinger Sunday.
GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Austin Cindric 2) Erik Jones 3) AJ Allmendinger 4) Noah Gragson 5) Daniel Suarez
Good Luck This Week!
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