The Setup – Xfinity 500
By Tyler Miller

This weekend, NASCAR heads to Martinsville Speedway for the Xfinity 500. This 500 lap race is the penultimate race for the season and the cut off race to determine the four drivers who will race for a championship next Sunday at Phoenix. With 500 laps being run, there is an increased pressure for DFS players to pick the driver who will lead the most laps (and have the most fastest laps run on Draft Kings). Earlier this year, Joey Logano led 234 laps and finished 4th. Even though Truex led 132 laps and won the race, Logano scored more points on Fan Duel. A lineup that used both Logano and Truex would have been nearly unbeatable, regardless of who else they would have used. While Logano won a race earlier this round at Kansas Speedway, Truex finds himself in a must win situation on Sunday. Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski is starting from the pole with Truex alongside. Choosing the right drivers at the top of the sheet who can lead triple-digit laps and contend for the win will be key. Let’s get started.

Race Distance: 500 laps, Stage 1 ends on lap 130, Stage 2 ends on lap 260.
Lineup Lock 2:00 pm eastern Sunday
Spring Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (Started 5th)
Spring Pole Sitter: Ryan Blaney (Finished 2nd)
Last year’s winner: (Spring/Fall) Brad Keselowski (Started 3rd)/ Martin Truex Jr. (Started 3rd)
Last year’s pole sitter: Joey Logano (Finished 19th)/ Denny Hamlin (Finished 4th)

Prior race winners:
2018 Fall: Joey Logano (10th)
2018 Spring: Clint Bowyer (9th)
2017 Fall: Kyle Busch (14th)
2017 Spring: Brad Keselowski (4th)

Texas Recap:
What went right?

Overall, Texas was a letdown, but there were some bright spots to take note of. Harvick had an early issue that impacted his performance throughout the 500 mile race but he was highly owned so that didn’t kill our lineup. Kyle Busch won the race, Hamlin was ok but not what we were looking for, Bowman was solid with a top 5 finish and leading some laps, and LaJoie performed to expectation. Ryan Preece ended up being a really good play. I didn’t write him up last week but I used him as my 6th driver on Draft Kings and it helped me to cash (while I lost on Fan Duel). Nearly all of the chalk missed which kept things interesting throughout the race (well, not really because Fan Duel didn’t have live scoring). Overall, as I mentioned, it was a letdown.

What went wrong?
Matt Kenseth was a complete disaster, for the second straight week. Erik Jones failed to meet expectations once again, Jimmie Johnson had engine trouble, and Joey Logano did not turn out to be the strong pivot away from Harvick like I had hoped he would be.
My Fan Duel lineup ended up as: Harvick, LaJoie, Kenseth, Hamlin, Kyle Busch scoring 262.4 and failing to cash.
My Draft Kings lineup ended up as: Harvick, Hamlin, Kyle Busch, LaJoie, Kenseth, and Preece which scored 221 and broke even.

What Vegas thinks (Opening lines via MGM)
Vegas apparently thinks Truex has a good shot to win his way into the championship four at Phoenix. Truex, Hamlin, and Keselowski as the top plays makes a lot of sense. I wish I could fit all three of them in a lineup. My longshot play would be Alex Bowman at 20-1. If you can get odds on Bowman to finish top 3 or top 5 I would probably play that as well.

Martin Truex Jr. 7-2
Denny Hamlin 11-2
Brad Keselowski 11-2
Kyle Busch 8-1
Chase Elliott 9-1
Joey Logano 9-1
Ryan Blaney 9-1
Kevin Harvick 10-1
Alex Bowman 20-1

Driver Ratings at Martinsville:
1. Jimmie Johnson 109.9
2. Denny Hamlin 105.3
3. Kyle Busch 102.8
4. Brad Keselowski 99.6
5. Joey Logano 96.5
6. Ryan Blaney 96.3
7. Kevin Harvick 94.4
8. Clint Bowyer 91.3
9. Chase Elliott 90.3
10. Matt Kenseth 86.8
11. Ryan Newman 84.1
12. Martin Truex Jr. 83.5
13. Kurt Busch 81.1
14. William Byron 75.2
15. Tyler Reddick 75.0

Average Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson 9.298
2. Denny Hamlin 9.669
3. Ryan Blaney 10.255
4. Kyle Busch 10.815
5. Joey Logano 11.262
6. Brad Keselowski 11.342
7. Kevin Harvick 12.506
8. Tyler Reddick 13.184
9. Clint Bowyer 13.401
10. Chase Elliott 14.103
11. Matt Kenseth 14.579
12. Ryan Newman 15.212
13. Kurt Busch 16.071
14. Martin Truex Jr. 16.528
15. William Byron 17.679

Laps Led
1. Jimmie Johnson 2761 (17.8% of laps run)
2. Denny Hamlin 1566 (10.8)
3. Kyle Busch 1424 (9.5)
4. Joey Logano 1064 (9.2)
5. Brad Keselowski 888 (8.4)
6. Martin Truex Jr. 858 (5.9)
7. Matt Kenseth 602 (4.3)
8. Clint Bowyer 572 (3.9
9. Kevin Harvick 481 (3.1)
10. Chase Elliott 193 (3.9)
11. Ryan Blaney 179 (4.0)
12. Kurt Busch 158 (1.0)
13. Ryan Newman 138 (0.9)

Spring Top 10:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Ryan Blaney
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Joey Logano
5. Chase Elliott
6. Alex Bowman
7. Matt DiBenedetto
8. William Byron
9. Kurt Busch
10. Jimmie Johnson

2019 Fall Top 10:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. William Byron
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Ryan Blaney
6. Kurt Busch
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Joey Logano
9. Kyle Larson
10. Ryan Newman

2019 Spring Top 10:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Chase Elliott
3. Kyle Busch
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Clint Bowyer
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Aric Almirola
10. Daniel Suarez

2018 Fall Top 10:
1. Joey Logano
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Kyle Busch
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Kurt Busch
7. Chase Elliott
8. Ryan Newman
9. Daniel Suarez
10. Kevin Harvick

Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500/11,800) Truex is the top play and my pick to lead laps and win the race. Truex has won the last two races at Martinsville, though his driver rating and average running position is not where you would usually see a race favorite. Remember, Truex drove inferior equipment for the first half of his career (DEI and MWR) which skews his career stats at any track. In his last 8 races at Martinsville, Truex has 2 wins, 5 top 5s and 7 top 10s. He has also led 596 laps in his last two races at Martinsville.

Brad Keselowski ($13,000/11,400) I really like using Brad Keselowski this weekend at Martinsville. I think he will be lower owned than most of the other top plays because he is starting 1st and a lot of people will build lineups around Truex and Hamlin. Keselowski has been solid at Martinsville for his entire career: 4th in driver rating, 6th in average running position, and 5th in laps led. Keselowski is ok in points but if Truex, Elliott, Bowman, or Kurt Busch win the race he would stand to be the odd man out of the championship four. I like Keselowski to lead laps early and run towards the front for the entire race. Keselowski has top 5s in 8 of his last 9 races at Martinsville including two wins. The only race where he didn’t finish top 5, he finished 10th. He has also led laps in 6 of his last 7 races at Martinsville including a dominating performance in the spring of 2019 where he led 446 laps and won the race.

Chase Elliott ($12,300/10,400) Chase Elliott is my third favorite driver for Martinsville on Sunday. On Fan Duel I think it makes a lot of sense to use Elliott with Truex and Keselowski, I don’t think you can make that happen on Draft Kings. Elliott is 25 points below the cut line coming into the race so this is nearing must-win territory depending on how many stage points Elliott scores during the course of the race. Elliott’s career numbers at Martinsville are skewed because he ran poorly in the first race of his cup career at Martinsville back in 2015 finishing 38th and he had issues last fall and finished 36th. Otherwise, Elliott has been strong, scoring top 10s in 5 of his last 7 races including 3 top 5s.

Alex Bowman ($10,300/8,700) I like using Bowman as a pivot from Elliott or really any of my top 3 guys at Martinsville. Bowman has been rock solid in the playoffs with top 10s in 6 of 8 races including 3 top 5s. Bowman is in the same position as Chase Elliott, 25 points below the cut line which makes this nearly a must win scenario. Starting 3rd, Bowman could run up front most of the day and finish top 5 which would make him a solid play in DFS, particularly on Draft Kings where he is much cheaper than other drivers with top 5 potential. You won’t see much by way of differential points and I doubt he will lead many laps, so the ceiling is limited for Bowman.

Jimmie Johnson ($9,700/9,300) Starting 27th, Jimmie Johnson is going to be popular on Sunday. Johnson has had an incredible career at Martinsville and this will be his last race as a full-time driver at the track. In 37 career races at Martinsville, Johnson has 9 wins, 2,932 laps led, 19 top 5s and 25 top 10 finishes. Johnson had a stretch between the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2009 where he won 5 out of 6 races, including 3 in a row. My issue with Johnson is that he has had 1 top 10 in his last 7 races at Martinsville. His 10th place finish came earlier this year when drivers like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick all had bad days and finished behind him. I think Johnson has top 15 potential for Sunday but this is a riskier play than people think. I think there are good odds that he could be stuck in the 20s for most of the race, maybe even fall a lap down if Truex or Keselowski get out to a big lead.

Bubba Wallace ($7,000/7,200) I think Bubba Wallace is the better play (than Johnson) for differential points on Sunday. Wallace is starting this race 32nd and the team should have a solid notebook to go off of from earlier in the year when he finished 11th at Martinsville. Wallace is on a run of 3 straight top 20 finishes at Martinsville. Anything inside the top 20 makes Wallace a good play on Sunday, something top 12 or top 15 would make him a great play.

Corey LaJoie ($4,000/5,500) If you are going to build around 3 top tier drivers on Sunday you are going to need some cheap value that you can trust. Out of all the <$5k drivers on Fan Duel, I trust Corey LaJoie the most. LaJoie is starting 26th, so there will be limited differential potential, but I think he can run in the mid-20s for most of the race within 1 or 2 laps of the leaders. If he can stay out of trouble, I could see him getting on the lead lap late and making a run to the 18-22nd position. JJ Yeley ($3,000/5,100) This is probably a DK only play, but if you need a second low cost value play then I would go with JJ Yeley. Don’t expect him to lead laps and contend for a top 10 like he did in the Xfinity race on Saturday, but from the 38th starting position there is very little risk by using Yeley who should attempt to run the entire race. Yeley finished 31st, 7 laps down in the spring. I would expect a performance similar to that on Sunday and if there are multiple crashes with drivers knocked out early, Yeley could see a finish in the 20s which would make him an outstanding play. I also prefer Yeley on DK because DK doesn’t award points for laps run, so even if he has an issue and gets knocked out of the race at half-way, he won’t kill your lineup like he would on Fan Duel but not running the entire race.

I like building around Truex, Keselowski and Elliott on Fan Duel; Truex, Keselowski, and Bowman on Draft Kings. I think Bubba Wallace is probably a must play. Don’t be afraid to mix it up in single entry or limited entry tournaments with Johnson and Bowman, I would even include Logano and Hamlin in my player pool when building multiple lineups.

Good luck!

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