The Round of 8 in the MENCS Playoffs start this week at Martinsville Speedway in the First Data 500. There are only 4 races left in the season so there is no reason to save allocations now. If a driver looks fast in practice and qualifies up front, you need to use him. Do not try to get cute and save your picks for one of the 3 remaining races.
Kyle Busch (1): I have one allocation left with Busch and I have been saving it for this race. Busch has been incredibly consistent at Martinsville and he is the favorite to be the first driver to clinch a spot in the championship race at Homestead. Busch has finished 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 1st and 5th in his last six races at Martinsville. He has also led 837 laps in these races. Busch finished 2nd in the March race at Martinsville. He starts from the pole Sunday and has a fast car. Busch should be taking home his 3rd Grandfather Clock Sunday.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Brad Keselowski 3) Martin Truex Jr. 4) Denny Hamlin 5) Kevin Harvick 6) Joey Logano 7) Kyle Larson 8) Jimmie Johnson
Clint Bowyer (1): Bowyer won the spring race at Martinsville and he will have a good chance to win again Sunday. Bowyer has a 3.6 average finishing position at Martinsville in his three races with Stewart-Haas Racing. He is still alive in the playoffs and his best chance of getting to Homestead is by winning Sunday. I have one allocation left with Bowyer and I have been saving it for this track. Martinsville ranks as the 2nd-best track for Bowyer so this is a great week to use him.
Aric Almirola (3): Almirola keeps flying under the radar. He was the 2nd best driver in the last round of the playoffs (behind Chase Elliott) and he is showing no signs of slowing down. I planned on using Elliott in this spot but the No. 9 team struggled in practice and qualifying. I will save the No. 9 for when I know he is fast. Almirola starts 5th Sunday. I will take a chance with him.
* I would use Kurt Busch or Ryan Blaney over Aric Almirola if I had more than one allocation with them.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Clint Bowyer 2) Ryan Blaney 3) Kurt Busch 4) Aric Almirola 5) Chase Elliott 6) Erik Jones 7) A.J. Allmendinger 8) Ryan Newman 9) Daniel Suarez 10) Jamie McMurray
William Byron (1): I will burn my last allocation with Byron this week. The No. 24 team said Jeff Gordon worked with Chase Elliott and Byron in the simulator this week. Byron told MRN radio, “I learned a lot from Jeff and I am a lot more prepared for the race this week than I was in my first race at Martinsville.” Byron qualified 12th and he should be able to run in the top 15 Sunday.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Alex Bowman) William Byron 3) Chris Buescher 4) Michael McDowell 5) Regan Smith
Good luck this week!
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