And we’re back! I hope everyone had a great Easter holiday, but it’s time to get back to racing and first up is the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on Saturday night at Martinsville! This track is a half-mile short, flat track and we often see the same drivers finishing up front time and time again. Like most flat tracks, we know who is good here at Martinsville. Two great flat track racers are starting on the front row this weekend as well, as Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin will lead the field to the green on Saturday. You can click here to see the full 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.*
My Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for Saturday’s race at Martinsville can be found by clicking here! Also, if you enjoy the FREE NASCAR content on this site and everything it has to offer, consider supporting by donating here.
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Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Martinsville
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,500) – He may only have two career wins here at “The Paperclip” but Martin Truex, Jr. is probably the best driver at this track right now. Looking at the last three Martinsville races, Truex has a series-leading 747 laps led along with two wins, including this event one year ago. The exception during that time span? Last fall’s Playoff race, when a loose wheel derailed a nearly certain top 3 day for Truex. This Saturday night, MTJ will roll off 7th and has a legitimate chance to win this race. Remember, this #19 Toyota won at Phoenix earlier this year, which is the only other flat track we’ve raced at in 2021.
Brad Keselowski ($11,700) – This weekend, Brad Keselowski has the trifecta when it comes to what makes a really good Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest pick: place differential (he starts 10th), dominator potential (he’s led the 2nd-most laps at Martinsville over the last two years) and race-winning potential (he has the best average finish at Martinsville over the last two years). Looking at flat tracks in general last season, Keselowski had the 2nd-best average finish (3.7), the 3rd-best average running position (6.5), and led the 3rd-most laps (382). Currently, BK is on a five-race streak of top 5 finishes here at Martinsville and has finished inside that mark in nine of the last ten. The exception? A 10th-place finish in 2018. Yeah, he’s that good here.
Aric Almirola ($9,900) – It’s understandable if you would be hesitant to pick Aric Almirola considering how disappointing he has been this season, but if you ask me, I’m not too worried this week. Almirola is a solid flat track racer, and here at Martinsville specifically he has finished 11th or better in three of the last five races. Additionally, he’s ended up 18th or better in nine of the last twelve. This weekend, AA will roll off the grid from 31st, which obviously makes him a great place differential play in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. As long as Almirola doesn’t wreck on Saturday night, he should be able to move up from his starting position and have a modest points night for Slingshot fantasy players.
Kyle Busch ($11,100) – Don’t mind me…just sitting here (still) waiting on Kyle Busch to get back to his dominating form…going on over a year now… Okay I’ll stop. Anyway, looking at this season since the Daytona 500, Kyle Busch has grabbed top 5 finishes at Las Vegas and Atlanta, finished 10th at Homestead, and then finished 17th or worse in the other three races. The definition of inconsistent. This weekend at Martinsville, though, I think Rowdy could end up being a great fantasy pick. He’s had rough outings here at Martinsville lately, but this is still the same guy that has eight top 5s in the last eleven Martinsville races. Additionally, this #18 Toyota looked very strong at Phoenix earlier this year until Busch’s speeding penalty, and not that it means very much, but I liked the early speed we saw out of Rowdy at Bristol…
Christopher Bell ($9,100) – On Saturday night, this #20 Toyota will roll off the grid from 23rd, which means Christopher Bell has some decent place differential potential in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. But in addition to that, I believe CBell has legitimate top 10 finishing potential as well. Looking at his two starts here at Martinsville last season, Bell finished 28th and 15th, but don’t forget that that was with the Leavine Family Racing equipment. Obviously he has a better ride with his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota this year. What I really like about Bell, though, is how he looked at Phoenix this year, which is the only other flat track we’ve raced at (thus far). In that race, the #20 Toyota came home 9th at the end and had the 8th-best driver rating.
Bubba Wallace ($7,500) – I talked about Bubba Wallace in my Preview article for this race, and while I definitely really like him as a sleeper pick here at Martinsville on Saturday night, it’s difficult to fit Bubba into a Slingshot roster that I love, so I’m not sure he’s going to end up on my team this weekend. But anyway, most races here at Martinsville have had one or two “where’d he come from?” moments with Bubba Wallace. Over the last two years here, he’s finished between 11th and 21st in all four races, and in this event one year ago, Bubba ended up 5th and 6th in the two Stages. Looking back to Phoenix, Bubba ended up finishing 16th, and he has the same potential here at Martinsville this weekend (if not better).
“Race Winner” Pick = Denny Hamlin – My algorithm likes Martin Truex, Jr., Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski more than Denny Hamlin this week, but I just have this weird feeling in my gut that we could see the old Denny show up on Saturday night. Hamlin is a five-time winner at Martinsville Speedway and also has three 2nd-place finishes on his resumé. In total, he’s led 1,608 laps in 30 career starts here, which is more laps than any other active driver at this track. This season, Hamlin is off to a relatively quiet start, but he’s just clicking off top 5 after top 5. He also ranks 2nd in Green Flag Speed this year and 1st in average running position. He’s going to win eventually. Maybe it’ll be this weekend.