FOX Fantasy Picks: STP 500 at Martinsville
Well, two weeks in a row our FOX Fantasy Picks have had a rough outing. Following the strange day-into-night that was the Food City 500 Bristol Motor Speedway, a string of tire issues and late-race strategy led to yet another bust of a day at Auto Club Speedway.
It’s time to put the poor finishes behind us and look forward to Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Whenever the Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville, the Hendrick Motorsports cars are tough to beat. Particularly Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. The two have a combined 16 of Hendrick’s 21 wins on the 0.526-mile speedway.
This weekend, Hendrick Motorsports marks the 30th anniversary of the team’s first win with Geoffrey Bodine on April 29, 1984 at Martinsville. The Hendrick drivers have been known to show up big on special occasions, so expect them to be in contention for the win on Sunday.
Remember, these are simply suggestions, so pick your team wisely and best of luck. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to sign up for FOX Fantasy Auto Racing, create your team and start playing today!
Captain: Jeff Gordon
Martinsville stats: 8 wins; 27 top 5s; 34 top 10s; 7 poles; Average finish: 6.8
Jeff Gordon took home the grandfather clock trophy the last time the Sprint Cup Series battled on the Virginia short track, and he might just be poised to earn another this weekend.
The veteran’s stats at Martinsville are staggering to say the least. In 42 starts, Gordon has completed 99.4 percent of all possible laps (20,769 of 20,890 — that’s all but 121 laps), with 3,593 laps led at the paper-clip track.
If that wasn’t enough to add him to your roster, consider that in the last 22 races at Martinsville, Gordon has finished outside the top 5 only five times, and outside the top 15 just once.
In short, when it comes to Martinsville, Gordon flat out gets it done. If he’s not on your fantasy roster, he should be.
Driver #2: Jimmie Johnson
Martinsville stats: 8 wins; 17 top 5s; 21 top 10s; 3 poles; Average finish: 5.3
Perhaps Gordon’s biggest challenge on Sunday will be his Hendrick teammate in the No. 48 Chevrolet. Despite finishing 35th in his first Martinsville race, Johnson has finished 12th or better in each of the next 23 starts.
With eight wins – two of which came in the last three races – at Martinsville, Johnson tops the charts in terms of best average finish. Much like Gordon, Johnson completes laps and runs at the front of the field nearly every race, with 99.6 percent of laps completed in 24 starts.
Johnson and the No. 48 team is still searching for their first victory of the 2013 season, and it could very well come Sunday in Martinsville.
Driver #3: Denny Hamlin
Martinsville stats: 4 wins; 9 top 5s; 13 top 10s; 3 poles; Average finish: 8.1
Much like the Hendrick teammates, Denny Hamlin is always a threat when the Sprint Cup Series heads to the paper-clip track that is Martinsville Speedway.
With four wins to his name, including three-in-a-row from 2009-2010, Hamlin also has motivation on his side heading into Sunday’s race.
Hamlin was forced to miss last weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway after a piece of metal caused double vision and pain. The metal has been removed from his eye, Hamlin is clear to race this weekend, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is eager to show he hasn’t missed a beat.
Driver #4: Clint Bowyer
Martinsville stats: 0 wins; 4 top 5s; 10 top 10s; 0 poles; Average finish: 12.6
Clint Bowyer’s 16 starts at Martinsville Speedway have produced a variety of results, but as of late the Michael Waltrip Racing driver has been spot on.
In the four Martinsville races with MWR, Bowyer has three top 5s and four top 10s, with an average finish second only to Jimmie Johnson.
The 2014 season has not gotten off to the start Bowyer hoped, as he has failed to finish better than 13th in the first five races. The MWR driver has shown in the past he is not afraid to get aggressive going for the win late in the race.
If he can survive the majority of the race and be within striking distance at the end, Bowyer could very well earn his first winner sticker of the year.
Driver #5: Jamie McMurray
Martinsville stats: 0 wins; 1 top 5; 12 top 10s; 1 pole; Average finish: 16.2
While Jamie McMurray’s stats at Martinsville Speedway don’t exactly jump off the page, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver has run strong on the short track in the past.
Despite three finishes of 17th or worse, McMurray has four finishes of 11th or better in the last seven Martinsville events.
In addition, the CGR team has been revitalized with the addition of rookie sensation Kyle Larson. With perhaps a boost in the team’s overall chemistry and motivation, McMurray has two top 10s already the season. Aside from the wreck and 38th-place finish at Bristol, the No. 1 team has finished 15th or better so far this season.
Look for that trend to continue Sunday at Martinsville. While it is unlikely McMurray will top the Hendrick teammates or take down Hamlin, he should have a solid fantasy day if he can keep the car out of trouble throughout the day.
As always, these are simply suggestions, so do your research, pick wisely and best of luck. If you put more faith in the Las Vegas odds, check out this week’s ‘Let it Ride’ segment from NASCAR Race Hub: