The NASCAR Cup Series has reached the final race of the Round of 8. It has been a tough season to navigate but it has not been too bad. The Fantasy Live picks have outscored 99.1% of the entries for the season and 99.2% of the entries for the playoffs. We need two more strong races to extend the streak of outscoring 99% of the entries to 12 consecutive seasons. The race at Martinsville can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.
STRATEGY FOR MARTINSVILLE
There are only two races left in the 2022 season. I am quickly running out of allocations with my top drivers and I am sure most of you are too. Do not panic. The people you are competing against in the Fantasy Live game are also running low on allocations with the top drivers.
The 2022 season has been so unpredictable that we need to play the known and do not worry about the unknown. What I mean by that is… We need to play the drivers who posted the fast laps in practice and qualified up front for the race Sunday. Do not worry about the race at Phoenix (the unknown). I am sure there will be drivers who we do not expect to be very good in the desert who will look good in practice next week. So simply play the best lineup you can this week and worry about Phoenix next week.
IMPORT RULES NOTE: Fantasy Live DOES NOT award Stage Points to the four drivers competing for the championship next week at Phoenix. It would be wise to use the playoff drivers this week and use the non-playoff drivers at Phoenix. This is an important glitch in the rules that your competitors my not know.
Here are the picks for the Xfinity 500 …
CHASE ELLIOTT (2): I have two allocations left with Elliott and I will likely use the No. 9 car in the last two races. Elliott has been a beast at Martinsville. He has led at least 185 laps in three of the last four races at Martinsville and averaged 18 Stage Points per race. The No. 9 car posted the third-fastest speed in practice and qualified second for the race. There is no reason to fade Elliott Sunday if you have any allocations left with the No. 9 car.
RYAN BLANEY (3): Blaney has been one of the best drivers at Martinsville since 2018. His average finishing position in his last seven races at the track is fifth. That is a lot of consistency over a long period of time. He started 12th, scored 11 Stage Points and finished fourth in April. The No. 12 car looks fast again this weekend. Blaney posted the second-fastest speed and qualified fourth for the race. He needs a lot of points or a win Sunday and the No. 12 car has the speed to get the job done.
DENNY HAMLIN (1): I have one allocation left with Hamlin and I will use it at his home track. Hamlin looked like garbage in the first race at Martinsville. Joe Gibbs Racing is going to put a lot of work into the No. 11 car to help Hamlin find the speed he needs to win the race Sunday. Hamlin posted the fastest speed in practice and qualified 11th for the race. He leads the Cup Series with five wins at Martinsville so I will give him a chance in my lineup Sunday.
KYLE LARSON (1): I wasn’t planning on using Larson this week because he said Martinsville is his worst track. He has not been too bad though. Larson finished fifth at Martinsville last year, missed the races in 2020 because he was suspended and he finished ninth in 2019. Larson posted the fourth-fastest speed in practice and he won the pole for the race. Track position is king at Martinsville, so I will take a chance with Larson who is still racing for the Owner’s Championship (Meaning he needs points).
CHASE BRISCOE (5): 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 be driving “Big Haas” this week. It is the car that Kevin Harvick took to Victory Lane at Richmond. Briscoe posted the eighth-fastest speed in practice and qualified third for the race. Briscoe finished ninth at Martinsville in April. He should finish in the top-10 again Sunday.
GARAGE DRIVER ARIC ALMIROLA (4): I am going to take a chance with the Garage Driver this week. Stewart-Haas Racing brought some fast cars to the track this weekend and Almirola is a short, flat track specialist. He finished sixth in this race last year and Almirola finished eighth at Martinsville in April. Almriola had the second fastest speed on the 15 and 20 lap average speed charts and the fast speed on the 25 lap average speed chart. The No. 10 car is just too fast to pass up so I will have Almirola in the Garage Sunday.
Fantasy Live has a new Bonus Picks section this year. Instead of selecting the winning team or manufacturer, we will earn 10 bonus points for selecting the driver who finishes the best in a Head-to-Head matchup. Here are my picks for the matchups…
KYLE LARSON vs. MARTIN TRUEX JR (My Pick: KYLE LARSON)
WILLIAM BYRON vs. DENNY HAMLIN (My pick is WILLIAM BYRON)
ROSS CHASTAIN vs. CHASE ELLIOTT (My pick is CHASE ELLIOTT)
CHRISTOPHER BELL vs. RYAN BLANEY (My pick is RYAN BLANEY)
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.
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