The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Saturday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville slate locks at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
1. Martin Truex Jr. ($11,500) — If a short, flat track is on the docket, then Truex is on the DFS menu. Truex was the predictable play last week based on historical data, and he would have won if the race did not come down to tires. Tire strategy won’t be a story this week. The fastest car should win, and the historical data again backs Truex.
2. Kyle Busch ($10,000) — Hamlin was doing everything right but couldn’t get a win. That changed last week at Richmond. Could that same storyline play out for Busch? Busch is running double-duty this weekend, so he’ll be ready to let it rip on Saturday night.
3. Chase Elliott ($11,200) — He won the fall 2020 Martinsville race and led the most laps in the 2021 Martinsville fall race (289). He recorded the eighth-most laps inside the top 5 at Richmond last week — historically, not his best track — and he earned the second-most top 5 laps at the short, flat track in Phoenix earlier this season.
4. Ryan Blaney ($10,900) — Before a penalty on the final put stop derailed his race, Blaney led 157 laps in the spring Martinsville race. Penske bought a similar setup to the fall race, but it fell flat. Blaney battled a bad race car for 500 laps and was able to finish 11th.
5. Denny Hamlin ($10,300) — The fall race was eventful. Hamlin had to drive through the field several times. He was leading with a handful of laps remaining, but Alex Bowman was faster. Hamlin gambled. To find extra speed, Hamlin moved up the track, but that opened him up to getting spun. Hamlin gambled that Bowman would not have the guts to make the move. Hamlin was wrong. Bowman moved Hamlin.
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6. William Byron ($9,500) — In the 2019 fall race, Byron finished second behind Martin Truex Jr. The racing package changed for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but Byron adapted. He scored two top-10 finishes in 2020 and two top-5 finishes in 2021. The next step in his development is to win.
7. Alex Bowman ($9,300) — Was his 2021 Martinsville win a backdoor win? No. None of his wins are. Bowman had a top-5 car all race and was faster than Denny Hamlin at the end. Hamlin chose to run a line that forced Bowman’s hand. Hamlin got spun, and Bowman won.
8. Kyle Larson ($10,600) — The Martinsville 2021 fall race was practically a test session. It meant nothing to the No. 5 team, so the race was completely treated as a learning experience to help Larson with one of the tracks where he has struggled the most.
9. Joey Logano ($9,700) — Across the board, the Penske cars struggled with the fall Martinsville setup. However, the only time that Martinsville was a true night race (June 2020), Logano scored the most fantasy points (128 DKFP) and finished fourth.
10. Kevin Harvick ($8,400) — At Phoenix, Harvick had race-winning speed, but he could not work through the top 5 because of the notorious resin racing line that limits passing. Richmond no longer lathers the track in artificial substances, and Harvick finished in second place.
11. Christopher Bell ($9,100) — Slowly, but surely, Bell is learning Martinsivlle. It takes young drivers years to figure out Martinsville. Last season, Bell ran inside the top 10 for 50% of the spring and fall race. He had the fourth-highest driver rating at Richmond last week.
12. Harrison Burton ($5,600) — Martinsville might be Burton’s best track. He won the 2020 Xfinity race and nearly won the 2021 Martinsville fall race. His quasi-Penske car earned a top-20 finish at Richmond last week.
13. Bubba Wallace ($6,400) — His first career win came at Martinsville in a KBM truck in 2013. He won again in 2014. This is a track where Bubba has looked comfortable. He’s earned a top-20 driver rating in each of the last five Martinsville races.
14. A.J. Allmendinger ($6,600) — This short, flat track suits Allmendinger. He’s been a contender in the Xfinity Series in good equipment, and he’s earned top-10 finishes in the Cup Series at Martinsville in sub-par equipment. His Kaulig Racing car isn’t great, but it’s worth more than this price tag.
15. Todd Gilliland ($5,200) — His 25th-place finish at Richmond was disappointing but only from the perspective that he is a legendary value play — referring to punts as Todds this early in the season is presumptuous. A Front Row Motorsports rookie has earned a top-25 finish in every non-plate race. That’s special. Also, he has a Martinsville Truck Series win, and should have two, but he got wrecked on the final lap last fall.
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