Well, time sure flies when you finish a race on Wednesday and then have another one on Sunday, eh? Up next is the 35th race of the 2020 Cup Series season, the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Martinsville is a half-mile flat track that doesn’t really compare super well to anywhere else on the schedule, but you can throw in Phoenix, Richmond, and New Hampshire when looking at comps this week. All four are flat tracks that are a mile or less in length. Tire-wise, Goodyear is bringing the same tire combination that the teams used here back in June, and these two races are the only time those specific tires have been used this season. Martin Truex, Jr. won the June race this year and also won this particular event last season. Brad Keselowski will start on the pole on Sunday and you can click here for the Xfinity 500 starting lineup.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for the Martinsville Xfinity 500
Joey Logano ($12,000) – All eyes will be on the front row starters of Brad Keselowski ($11,600) and Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,700) come Sunday afternoon–and rightfully so, as those two have led nearly 1,400 laps combined here at Martinsville over the last seven races and each has went to victory lane twice during that span as well. But don’t count out Joey Logano. Yeah, he’s already locked into the Championship race at Phoenix, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to go out and just ride around this weekend. As far as why I like Logano? Well, let’s just look at some numbers. Green Flag Speed on flat tracks this year? The best. Average running position on flat tracks this year? The best. Average finish on flat tracks this year? The best. Need I say more? Logano starts 7th on Sunday, so he has place differential potential as well in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, and don’t forget that the #22 Ford led the most laps the last time we raced here at “The Paperclip.”
Ryan Blaney ($11,200) – I’ve been saying all season long that Penske Racing has an advantage on the flat tracks this season, and holding strong with that mentality was the main reason why I had a huge DFS day at the last flat track we visited (Richmond). There’s no reason to think these Fords won’t be super fast once again here at Martinsville on Sunday. As far as Ryan Blaney goes, it’s kind of a shame he got knocked out of the Playoffs so early this year because this #12 team is now running just like we expected they would. Over the last five Cup Series races overall, Young Ryan Blaney has finished 7th or better four times, and here at Martinsville specifically Blaney has came home 8th or better in five of his last six starts. He starts 10th for Sunday’s Xfinity 500 but has top 5 potential. He’s a great value at just $11,200 in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) – Somehow, some way, we’ve gotten to the point where Jimmie Johnson is somewhat of a risky Fantasy NASCAR pick at Martinsville. I never thought I’d see the day. This is the guy that has won nine races at “The Paperclip,” owns an average finish of 9.3, and has led nearly 3,000 laps. But, his track record here recently suggests that he may have lost his touch at this track; in the last 12 Martinsville races, Johnson has just one top 5 finish and three top 10s. Still, Jimmie had a great car here back in June and even led 70 laps while finishing 3rd and 1st in the two Stages (after starting back in 21st). This weekend the #48 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 27th and that makes JJ a lock in place differential Fantasy NASCAR leagues (at least in my mind).
Clint Bowyer ($9,700) – After Texas, you just have to feel bad for Clint Bowyer. He had a car that could win one more race before he retires and the #14 pit crew somehow made the mistake of not getting it full of fuel, which ruined their entire day. But who knows, maybe they’ll bring a similar hot rod here at Martinsville on Sunday? Surprisingly, Clint only has one victory here at “The Paperclip” (back in 2018) but he’s a really solid flat track racer and has finished 7th or better in four of his seven Martinsville starts since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. This season on the shorter flat tracks Bowyer has an average running position of 10.8, and that’s good enough for 6th-best in the series. Starting 16th on Sunday, Clint has place differential potential and could pull off a top 10 finish as well, making him a solid value play in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Bubba Wallace ($7,000) – I really wanted to fit Chris Buescher ($7,700) into my lineup, but didn’t have the cap space to do so with those first four guys. But Bubba Wallace should be a fine place differential play on Sunday assuming his equipment holds up. The good news is that Martinsville is a track where driver talent can make a bad car better, and we’ve certainly seen that with Bubba here before; over the last three races at “The Paperclip,” Wallace has finished 17th, 13th, and, most recently, 11th. He also came home 5th in Stage 1 and 6th in Stage 2 here back in June. The #43 Chevrolet will start from back in 32nd here on Sunday so a top 20 finish would be a great Slingshot points day for Bubba Wallace. He has an average result of 19.8 on the shorter flat tracks this season.