The NASCAR Cup Series raced at Martinsville in June. It was a historical race because it was the first time the series competed under the lights at Martinsville. The races at the paper-clip shaped track tend to be easy to predict because it is a rhythm racetrack. Drivers are either really good or simply in the way at Martinsville. The cream rose to the top with Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer all having good runs. These drivers are typically the best at the track. It was surprising to see Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch struggle in the race.
The 10 drivers who looked the best in the race: Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Darrell Wallace Jr., Corey LaJoie (Sleeper pick)
Race Review: Blue-Emu Pain Relief 500 (June 2020)
Stage / Race Results
|1. Joey Logano||1. Jimmie Johnson||1. Martin Truex Jr.|
|2. Clint Bowyer||2. Ryan Blaney||2. Ryan Blaney|
|3. Jimmie Johnson||3. Joey Logano||3. Brad Keselowski|
|4. Martin Truex Jr.||4. Alex Bowman||4. Joey Logano|
|5. Darrell Wallace Jr.||5. Kevin Harvick||5. Chase Elliott|
|6. Chase Elliott||6. Darrell Wallace Jr.||6. Alex Bowman|
|7. Kurt Busch||7. William Byron||7. Matt DiBenedetto|
|8. Kevin Harvick||8. Chase Elliott||8. William Byron|
|9. Matt DiBenedetto||9. Kurt Busch||9. Kurt Busch|
|10. William Byron||10. Tyler Reddick||10. Jimmie Johnson|
– Martin Truex Jr. has dominated the last two races at Martinsville. He started 3rd, won both Stages, led 464 of the 500 laps and went to Victory Lane in the October race last year. He started 5th but it took him half of the race to get his car right in June. Truex took the lead from Brad Keselowski on lap 370 and it was all over after that. Truex led 132 laps and went to Victory Lane for the second consecutive time at Martinsville.
– Denny Hamlin has 5 trips to Victory Lane at Martinsville (second-most in the Cup Series). He entered the race in June as one of the favorites because of how well he was running in the 2020 season and his past performance at this track. Hamlin finished 2nd, 5th and 4th in the last two years at Martinsville. The No. 11 car really struggled in June. He started 12th, did not score any Stage points, went a lap down after 100 laps and finished 24th. The team said they simply brought the wrong setup to the track. They “should” be better this week.
– Kyle Busch was in the same boat as Denny Hamlin. Busch entered the race in June at Martinsville with two wins at the track. He finished 8 of his last 9 races at the track in the top 5. He should have been a lock for top-10 finish in June. That was not the case. Busch started 7th and immediately fell back in the field. He went a lap down half-way through the race. Busch did not score any Stage points and finished 19th. He has not led any laps at Martinsville in the last four races. His average finishing position in his last two races at Martinsville is 16.5.
– Erik Jones is the third-worst track for Jones. He spent a lot of time running into other drivers and the wall in June at Martinsville. Jones started 13th and quickly fell back in the field. He did not score any Stage points and finished 3-laps down in 20th place. Jones has finished 20th, 20th, 30th and 26th in his last four races at Martinsville.
– Christopher Bell took his rookie lumps at Martinsville in June. This is a tough track for rookies and it is even tougher without any practice. Bell started 32nd and he did not improve much in the race. His average running position was 29th and he finished 28th.
– Ryan Blaney has been one of the best drivers at Martinsville of the last two seasons. That should not surprise anyone because Team Penske Racing has dominated the recent races at this track. Blaney finished 2nd, 4th and 5th in his last 3 races at Martinsville. Blaney started on the pole, led 34 laps, scored 9 Stage points and finished 2nd in the June race. He should be the best non-playoff driver in the race Sunday.
– Joey Logano has one win at Martinsville but he would have two if Matt Kenseth did not seek revenge on the No. 22 car in 2017. Logano had another great race at Martinsville in June. He started 3rd, won Stage 1, finished 3rd in Stage 2, led a race-high 234 laps and finished 3rd. Logano is already locked into the championship race at Phoenix so he will not be concerned with Stage points Sunday. Logano will be going after the checkered flag and trying not to make too many enemies in the race (that may be difficult for him to do).
– Brad Keselowski is the most consistent driver at Martinsville. He is almost a lock for a top-5 finish Sunday. Keselowski hs finished 3rd,3rd, 1st, 5th, 10th, 4th, 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 5th at Martinsville since 2015. He had a good race at the track in June. Keselowski started 6th, only led 5 laps, but he finished 3rd. The No. 2 car is going to be tough to beat Sunday.
– Matt DiBenedetto was horrible at Martinsville before the June race. An alliance with Team Penske Racing will help any drivers at this track and it sure helped DiBenedetto. He started 19th and quickly made his way to the top 10. DiBenedetto finished 9th in Stage 1 and 7th in the race. His car will have a good setup this week since he has the notes from Team Penske Racing. DiBenedetto is a good sleeper pick for you Fantasy NASCAR teams.
– Chase Elliott is one of the drivers who can compete with the Team Penske Racing cars at Martinsville. He has finished 5 of his last 7 races at Martinsville in the top 9. It should have been 6 of 7 but he was dumped by Denny Hamlin in the 2017 race. Elliott had a decent race at Martinsville in June. He started 11th, finished 6th in Stage 1, 8th in Stage 2, led 1 lap and finished 5th. His 5.02 average running position was 2nd best to Joey Logno’s 2.08 average running position.
– William Byron is a good sleeper pick at Martinsville. He stated 11th, finished 6th in both Stages, and finished 2nd in this race last year. The No. 24 car was fast again in June. Byron started 15th and quickly moved into the top 10. He finished 10th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2 and 8th in the race. Do not be surprised if Byron finished in the top 10 again Sunday.
– Alex Bowman has not had much success at Martinsville before the June race at the track. His average finishing position at the track was 24th heading into the race this year. He said he worked with Jimmie Johnson in the simulator and it really paid off. He was right. Bowman started 8th, had an 8.86 average running position (8th best) and finished 6th in the race. It was his best finish at Martinsville. Bowman should have a good chance to finish in the top 10 again Sunday.
– Jimmie Johnson said a few years ago, “I can driver Martinsville in a dump truck and still finish in the top 10.” He is probably right. Johnson has 9 Grandfather clocks in his collection. He had a really good race at Martinsville in June. Johnson started 21st and quickly made his way to the front. Johnson finished 3rd in Stage 1, won Stage 2, led 70 laps and finished 10th in the race. His 5.86 average running position was the 3rd best in the race.
– Kevin Harvick has been decent at Martinsville but he only has one win (2011) and he has not led a lap at the track since 2016 (no laps led in 8 races). His race at Martinsville was only “OK” in June. Harvick started 10th, finished 8th in Stage 1, 5th in Stage 2 and finished 15th in the race. Harvick is worth a gamble in DFS but there are better pick for your season-long teams.
– Clint Bowyer has a history of running well at Martinsville. He won at this track in 2018. The No. 14 car was fast in June but Bowyer had little to show for it. Bowyer started 4th and finished 2nd in Stage 1. He had a commitment cone violation in the final Stage and Bowyer lost his track position. He finished 17th in the race. Bowyer should have a good chance for a top-10 finish this week “if” he can avoid making mistakes.
– Aric Almirola started off good at Martinsville in June but it was all downhill after the first 100 laps. That should not surprise anyone because Martinsville is the 3rd worst track for Almirola. He started 2nd and beat Ryan Blaney at the start of the race and led the first 19 laps. Blaney had batteries problems half-way through the race. He had to go to the garage. The No. 10 car finished 33rd. He also finished 37th in this race last year.
– Cole Custer was just another rookie who had a tough time at Martinsville in June. He started 27th, did not score any Stage points and finished 29th. Custer had a 27.99 average running position in the race. He finished the race 6 laps down. It is tough to trust a rookie at this track without any practice.
– Matt Kenseth has a history of running well at Martinsville but that was not the case in June. Kenseth started 20th, did not score any Stage points or lead any laps. He finished the race in the 23rd position and scored -3 place differential points in DFS contests. Kenseth is racing right now like he cannot wait to get back to retirement. It is hard to trust the No. 42 car in this race.
– Kurt Busch has two wins at Martinsville and he will need another one if he wants to advance to the championship race at Phoenix. The No. 1 car was good at Martinsville in June. Busch started 9th, finished 7th in Stage 1, 9th in Stage 2 and 9th in the race. Busch may sacrifice some Stage points Sunday in order to start up front in the final Stage. He is a safe pick for a top-10 finish. I am just not sure he can win Sunday.
– Ryan Newman is known as one of the best drivers on the short, flat tracks. It is difficult to make passes on those tracks and Newman is one of the toughest drivers to pass in the race. He had another good race at Martinsville in June. Newman started 16th; score 4 place differential points and finished 12th. He will be a decent pick for your DFS contests again Sunday.
– Chris Buescher will be a good pivot from his teammate (Ryan Newman) in DFS contests. Buescher finished 13th at Martinsville in 2018, 12th in 2019 and 13th at the track in June. Buescher started 24th in the race and scored 11 place differential points. Buescher may be too risky for season-long games but he is worth a gamble in DFS.
– Austin Dillon got a flat tire on lap two. That put him 3 laps down early in the race. He also had a commitment cone violation penalty on lap 130. With 100 laps left he got sick from the fumes in the car and had to exit the car. Dillon finished 37th. Martinsville is the 4th worst track for Dillon. His average finishing position at the rack is 21.1.
– Tyler Reddick was the best rookie in the June race at Martinsville. He started 14th and was able to finish 10th in Stage 2. Reddick had a 13.02 average running position (13th best) and finished 16th in the race. He should have a decent chance for a top-15 finish Sunday.
– Bubba Wallace is actually pretty good at Martinsville. He has finished 11th, 13th and 17th in his last 3 trips to this track. Wallace had one of his best races of the season at Martinsville in June. He started 23rd and quickly made his way through the field. Wallace finished 5th in Stage 1, 6th in Stage 2 and 11th in the race. His 12.03 average running position was 12th best in the race. Not bad for Bubba.
– Corey LaJoie is a great sleeper pick this week. He finished 18th at Martinsville last year and he had another good race t the track in June. LaJoie started 25th and the No. 32 team used pit strategy to gain track position in Stage 2. LaJoie led 5 laps and finished 18th. He had a 17.12 average running position in the race.
– Michael McDowell has been hit or miss at Martinsville in his career. He was a hit at the track in June. McDowell started 29th and finished 14th. He really paid off for people who used him in DFS because he scored 15 place differential points. McDowell will be worth a spot in a few of your DFS contests again Sunday.
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