The short track attack continues this weekend under the lights at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1).
The Next-Gen car seems to have thrown some drivers for a loop. Drivers are now shifting at the half-mile bullring, and less brake pressure is needed compared to the Next Gen’s predecessor, the Gen-6 car.
As a result, some top names struggled, while other surprise names are starting toward the front.
I think we’re in for quite a bit of uncertainty as to how the racing will all play out. As such, it’ll likely pay to find the right pivot plays in tournaments this weekend.
All my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running my simulations of the race.
Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Chase Elliott ($11,200)
Going with tonight’s pole-sitter in cash games is a very easy call.
Elliott was the fastest in practice both over the short run and the long run. Martinsville is an exceptionally strong track for him. He’s had a driver rating over 97 in all but one of his incident-free starts at the paperclip after his rookie season.
Don’t overthink this one. Play the best car, with the best pit stall, in the best starting position in your cash game lineups.
Ryan Blaney ($10,900)
Blaney has been the fastest all year, and Martinsville is one of his better tracks.
His 12th place qualifying effort wasn’t the best, but that gives him a little extra place differential potential as both added safety and upside.
What I really like about Blaney is how consistent he was over the long run. When moving from 15-lap to 30-lap average, he only lost 0.02 seconds! That should pay off if we get a longer run at some point in the final stage.
Ty Dillon ($5500)
Martinsville is a good track for the younger Dillon brother, and it showed in practice.
He was 24th over five consecutive laps and 26th over 10 consecutive laps. If he has that kind of speed tonight and stays out of trouble while other cars have issues, he could certainly gain 15 or more spots of place differential.
Only once in eight career starts has Dillon finished worse than 24th. Look for that trend to continue if he avoids trouble.
Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
William Byron ($9500)
Byron has yet to crack the $10k barrier in DFS, but he definitely will at some point. In the meantime, let’s take the salary discount for a guy who has dominator potential this weekend.
Although Byron has yet to lead more than nine laps in a race at Martinsville, the time is coming. He has an average finish of 4.8 over his last four incident-free Martinsville starts.
In addition, Byron has been the third-fastest car in average green flag speed all year. Last weekend at Richmond, another short flat track, Byron led 122 laps en route to a third-place finish.
Harrison Burton ($5600)
I think people will look toward Ty Dillon, who is cheaper, has a strong track history, and starts farther back, and ignore Burton by comparison.
However, Burton is a Martinsville winner in the XFINITY Series. He led an average of 45 laps over three races.
What I really like about Burton is his lap times didn’t fall off much between his five and 10-lap average. Even though he was slower than drivers starting ahead of him like Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, and Ross Chastain, the trajectory of his lap times were likely to cross over theirs and become faster after about 15 to 20 laps.
My projections put him in the optimal lineup 18.6% of the time, but he’s only projected to be in about 16% of lineups.
Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 Paul Menard Pick of the Week
The Paul Menard Pick of the Week returns after a one-week hiatus.
This driver projects to be the most under-utilized driver relative to his odds of ending up in the optimal lineup on a relative basis.
That driver is none other than this year’s Daytona 500 champion, Austin Cindric ($7300).
Cindric’s lap times all the way from five consecutive to 30 consecutive laps were nearly identical to teammate Joey Logano’s times. In fact, Cindric was actually faster over a single lap and had a faster overall average lap speed.
This Next-Gen car may also benefit a driver like Cindric, who comes from a sports car background. That’s because drivers are now shifting gears at Martinsville, which didn’t use to be the case. Additionally, drivers need less brake pressure than in the past, which has thrown some top drivers like Denny Hamlin for a loop.
Cindric projects to be in less than 15% of lineups, but I like using him in 20-25% of your lineups.
He works very well in a balanced approach but also as a super contrarian middle-priced driver in a more stars and scrubs lineup.