The NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Martinsville Speedway for another short track race. The racing at Martinsville is typically pretty good, but drivers had a tough time making passes in the Gen-7 car last year. NASCAR is using the new aero package for short tracks this week, so hopefully the racing improves. The NOCO 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 pm ET on FS1.
STRATEGY FOR MARTINSVILLE
The Fantasy Live picks have been performing well for over a decade and this year is no different. The lineup struggled last week with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch finishing in the back, but Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe allowed the lineup to improve in the overall standings. The picks are now outscoring 98.9%. I will continue to do my best to get us to the top.
The Cup Series had their normal schedule this week. The teams had 20-minutes to dial in their cars Saturday, before they had to qualify for the race. Most of the drivers made some long runs in practice, so we do have some data to work with this week. I will factor in the practice speeds, but my picks will be based on starting position (track position is important at Martinsville) and the drivers track history at Martinsville.
Here is my starting lineup for the NOCO 400…
WILLIAM BYRON (6): It will be tough to pick against the Hendrick Motorsports drivers this week. Byron dominated the short, flat track races at Phoenix and Richmond earlier this season and he dominated this race at Martinsville last year when he led 212 laps, scored 18 Stage Points and went to Victory Lane. Byron has been the best driver in the Cup Series this season. There is no guarantee that his hot streak will continue all season, so I will use another allocation with the No. 24 car Sunday.
DENNY HAMLIN (9): Hamlin is always a good pick on the short, flat tracks in his home state of Virginia. He had one of the fastest cars in the race two weeks ago at Richmond and the No. 11 car should be fast again this week. Hamlin led 203 laps, scored 20 Stage Points and finished fifth in the last race at Martinsville. I would not be surprised if Hamlin had a similar race Sunday.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (10): It has been 52 races since Truex went to Victory Lane. He has only won four races out of the 80 races with James Small on top of the pit box. The good news is the races he has won were at Richmond, Phoenix and Martinsville (these are all short, flat tracks). If Truex is going to win, it will be on a short, flat track. Truex led 56 laps at Richmond two weeks ago. The No. 19 car should be fast again this weekend.
CHRISTOPHER BELL (8): Bell looked horrible in practice and then he went out and qualified 22nd. Is there reason to be concerned? Maybe a little, but I am not too worried about it. Bell posted the 12th fastest speed in practice last year and qualified 20th for the race. The No. 20 car then went out and led 150 laps, scored 11 Stage Points and went to Victory Lane. I trust crew chief Adam Stevens to dial in the No. 20 car for the race. If they don’t, I will put Bell in the Garage.
KEVIN HARVICK (6): Harvick was not on my radar heading into the week. He has been hit or miss at Martinsville in his career. I have a rule with the No. 4 car. When Harvick looks good in practice and qualifies well, use him in the race. Harvick posted the 5th fastest speed in practice and the No. 4 car posted the second fastest speed on the long runs. Harvick finished 5th at Phoenix and 5th at Richmond in the new short track aero package. I will take a chance with Harvick Sunday.
(GARAGE PICK) JOEY LOGANO (8): Logano only has one win at Martinsville (2018), but that does not mean he has not been good at the track. Logano has the best average finishing position in the last six races at Martinsville. Logano has finished 9 of his last 10 races at Martinsville in the top-10. He is a good insurance policy to have in the Garage Sunday.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.