Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Fantasy Nascar Preview (Mville)

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Fantasy Nascar Preview -

1-JMac: Martinsville has been a tough place for JMac over the past couple seasons. In 3 of his last 4 races here, he has finished 23rd or worse. In 6 of his last 10 races overall here, he has finished 16th or better. With 5 of those 6 races ending in the top 10. His last top 10 finish was back in 2016 though. He finished 8th in fall 2016. Prior to finishing 29th in last fall's race, he has finished 3 of his last 4 fall's races in the top 10. The lone non-top 10 finish was 16th place back in 2014. Jamie Mac haven't finished worse than 17th since the 2011 season in the fall-time, where he finished 35th. He has been a lot better in the fall races than the spring races.

2-Brad Keselowski: Keselowski is easily one of the best drivers in the series at Martinsville. Since 2015, he has been simply a machine. In his last 6 races at MVille, he has posted 5 top 5 finishes. Over his last four races, he has compiled 3.0 average finish with 5.8 average running position and 120.7 driver rating. Those are only second-best to Kyle Busch. Nobody has been on Kyle Busch's level, but Keselowski has been as close as anyone else. In 8 of his last 11 races overall, he has finished in the top 6. Since entering the top level in 2012, he has only posted 3 finishes outside of the top 10. Problem is? His three bad finishes all has ended outside of the top 30. When he finishes out races, he usually contends for the win and finishes up front. When he doesn't, he will probably be a very regretful fantasy option. He's boom or bust, folks. But history says he is a lot more boom than bust. The risk isn't really that high. In fact, he is one of the safest options in the filed to choose.

3-Austin Dillon: Dillon isn't exactly the kind of driver that you would expect to find the success he has at Martinsville, but his numbers are quite good over his career. In 7 of his 8 career starts, he has finished in 18th or better. Over his last 4 races (2 seasons) at MVille, he has compiled 9.8 average finish with 14.3 average running position and 83.3 driver rating. Dillon has performed well during that 4-race span as you can tell. During that span, he has posted 3 top 13 finishes in 4 races. His lone non-top 13 finish was of 17th place back in fall 2016.

4-Kevin Harvick: Week in and week out, he is one of the fastest drivers in the series by far. He has been a good performer at Martinsville over the years, but he never quite get the finishes that he deserve though. Over the last 4 races at this track, he has compiled 15.5 average finish with 12.5 average running position and 88.6 driver rating. In 3 of his last 6 races, he has finished 8th or better. His other three races ended in 17th or 20th. In 5 of his last 9 races overall, he has finished 8th or better. Harvick is one of those drivers that you expect to perform consistently and to contend for the win. Regardless of what his track record says. He will from time to time have those bad finishes, but the speed of the No.4 car is undeniable this season. If he isn't contending for a win, then I would be shocked. He has ran very well here in the past. Very well!

9-Chase Elliott: Heading into the season, I thought Elliott's first win would come on one of three tracks: Phoenix (he finished 3rd - few weeks ago), Michigan or this weekend's race at Martinsville. Last fall's race at Martinsville, he was just a few laps from going to victory. He crash late in the event, which led to a feud with JGR driver Denny Hamlin. He was strong in that event. He compiled 4.0 average running position with 106.6 driver rating and spent 98% of the race in the top 15. His 4.0 average running position was ranked 3rd-best only behind Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. I have to believe his 27th place finish affected that stat, too. In last spring's race, he was strong again. Very strong as he was a top 5 driver for the entire race and led 20 laps. In that event, he held 3.0 average running position and 122.1 driver rating. He started 2nd for the event and pretty much was a top 3 all race long. He was impressive at Martinsville in 2017 and may just go to victory this time around. It is only matter of time now! 

11-Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has always been very good at Martinsville and that haven't changed, either. For his career, he holds 10.0 average finish in 24 career starts. He is a five-time winner at this place, but four of his wins came between 2008 and 2010. That the time period where he owned this place. Since, his numbers have came back down to earth though. Still, pretty good though. In 5 of his last 8 races at Martinsville, he has finished 8th or better. Bad news? 3 of his last 4 spring races at Martinsville has ended in 19th or worse. His most recent win has came in the spring time though. That was back in 2015. In his last two spring races, he has finished 39th and 30th. This is his chance to turn things around and get a quality finish this weekend.

12-Ryan Blaney: Blaney is not a great driver here at Martinsville, in fact I would advise avoiding him here altogether. He had a great finish of 8th place back in last fall's race. That is his only career top 10 finish though. Prior to that, he has no finishes better than 19th place. Of course, he only made three career starts. Still, Blaney isn't the type of driver that I would expect him to exceed at Martinsville, at least this early in his career. I think it may be difficult for him to repeat his success from last fall. I wouldn't be shocked, if he did. Considering he is a pretty talented driver, but I am not expecting it either though. 

17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Stenhouse Jr is not a very good driver here at Martinsville. This has been long considered one of Ricky's worst tracks on the schedule. However, he finished 10th twice last season. That was very shocking since, from 2013 to 2016, he posted just one finish better than 25th. His 6 other races previously were 31st or worst. His best career finish up to end of 2016 was 15th in 2014. I am not sure if last season's success was a fluke or a sign of things to come for Ricky and the 17 team. I am gonna proabbly play the wait and see card and hope for the best. If he looks legit, then I say take the gamble with him. If not, there are plenty of other underrated drivers to look at. Ricky will have better days ahead, I am sure. Personally, I am not expecting him to back up his top 10 finishes from 2017!

18-Kyle Busch: Rowdy is the man here at Martinsville. Nobody is on his level when you look at the numbers overall. He is a stud at this track. Over his last 4 races here, he has compiled 2.3 average finish with 3.0 average running position and 134.6 driver rating. All three of those stats ranked no.1 and by a pretty large margin, too. He has nearly nearly 600 more laps than any other driver in the series in the past two seasons as well. In 7 of his last 10 races here, he has finished in the top 5. Including 5 straight top 5 finishes in his last 5 races at this place. In his last four races at this track, he has led over 180 laps three times. Busch is simply owning this place lately and I am not sure if anyone can step up. Kyle Busch is my early pick to win this weekend!

19-Daniel Suarez: A lot of young drivers will struggle at a place like Martinsville. That is just how it is, this is a tough place to master. No shocker that Daniel struggled in his first career start back in April. He wasn't very good and finished 32nd, 11 laps down. In his second career start, he was much better and finished 15th. Biggest take away? He completed all of the laps and finished 15th. That is the best thing you can do as a young driver. Get experience and avoid any issues. With more track time, I fully expect Daniel to improve and keep getting better. For this weekend, I would say that he is the low teen to middle teen range most likely. Pretty much what we been seeing out of him on a weekly basis in 2018. I don't think this will be one of those races where he exceed his expectations. If anything, he might finish worse than usual. I say his upside is the top 15 for the weekend, he isn't someone that screams ''potential''. At least not in this stage of his career.

20-Erik Jones: In 2017, Jones had mix final results. In the spring's race, he ran decent enough and finished 12th. He held 15.0 average running position with 75.6 driver rating. He spent just under half of the race in the top 15. So yeah, he ran respectable enough to say that he earned that 12th place finish. In the fall's race, he didn't get as a good of a finish. He ended up with 26th place finish, after compiling 19.0 average running position and completing just 33% of the laps in the top 15 for the event. His numbers weren't significant worse than the spring race. But yes, they were worse in the end. Whatever way you want to slice, he was nothing special at Martinsville. I would probably put him in the same range as Daniel Suarez honestly.

22-Joey Logano: Logano is a very good driver here at Martinsville overall and a lot of time underrated. Even in last fall's race, where he finished 24th, he was still strong. He posted a driver rating above 100 and led 59 laps on his way to a disappointing 24th place finish. 5 of his last 8 races overall, he has finished in the top 9. Prior to finishing 24th in last fall's race, he had three straight finishes of 11th or better. In his last 4 races at this track, he has compiled 12.0 average finish with 9.3 average running position and 100.1 driver rating. Logano is off to a solid start to the season, too. I think Penske is lacking a little speed to SHR and JGR, so a place like Martinsville could help off-set that.

31-Ryan Newman: Newman will be his consistent usual self and probably contend for a finish somewhere in the low teens. That is Newman for you! Over the last four races here, he has compiled 12.0 average finish with 14.3 average running position and 82.1 driver rating. His in-race performance and final finishing position are almost on point with one another. In 3 of his last 5 races, Newman has finished in the top 10 at Martinsville. Newman won't lead any laps or contend for a top 5 finish, but he knows a thing or two how to get around this place. And it only take a few cars to have issues and he has a legit shot at finishing in the top 10. He is really one of those safe drivers that you can pretty much depend for a solid finish regardless. Not much to hate about an experienced driver like Newman.

41-Kurt Busch: Kurt's numbers at Martinsville aren't that good and he has never been that good here. He is two-time winner, but he is pretty much all or nothing here. In 35 career starts, he has posted 12 top 15 finishes. Yes, 12 top 15 finishes in 35 career starts. That is well below 50% of the time. Since his last win in 2014, he haven't been very good. In 5 of his last 7 races here, he has finished 22nd or worse. You don't have to dig far to see that Kurt has had a lot of problems at this racetrack. However, he is off to a great start this season as SHR as a whole has been strong in pretty much every race. It is hard to overlook the success of SHR in 2018, but at the same time it is hard to overlook his lack of success at Martinsville. We are gonna find out which trend will hold true soon enough.

42-Kyle Larson: Kyle Larson had his breakthrough performance back in spring 2016 at Martinsville. That reamins his sole good performance of his career at Martinsville. In fall 2016, he was on the boarder line of another top 10 finish. But he was running 11th late in the event and smashed the wall. He finished 14th in that race. In spring 2017, he started on the pole. He looked good early on, both of the CGR cars did. But they eventually tapered off as the race went on. Larson would finished 17th in that race. Then last fall's race, he did not finish the event and finished 17th. Other than the 2016 season, Larson does not have a finish better than 17th since becoming a full-time driver at the top level. History says that Larson shouldn't be trusted to repeat his 2016 success.

48-Jimmie Johnson: Johnson use to be a great driver here at Martinsville and has more wins than any active driver, but that was then and this is now. Johnson is not the same driver he was a few years ago. And he isn't driver for the best team in Nascar at the moment, either. I think that is another factor in the Johnson's equation. His numbers over the last four races aren't bad by any means overall. In his last four races, he has compiled 9.3 average finish with 9.5 average running position and 101.6 driver rating. He won here in fall 2016 and finished 9th earlier in the spring race. In 2017 (last season), he compiled 13.5 average finish with 11.0 average running position and 93.5 driver rating. Not bad at all, but obviously not quite on the Jimmie Johnson's standards that we are use to here. If Johnson gonna go to victory lane or challenge for a top 5 in the foreseeable future, I would imagine that it will be here.

78-Martin Truex Jr: Truex Jr usually only get the respect he deserves on the intermediate tracks and I think that is such bullshit. He is a guy that can contend for wins on any type of track. His recent numbers at Martinsville will back that up. His last four races at this track, he has compiled 10.8 average finish with 7.5 average running position and 100.9 driver rating. Only two driver has a better average running position and only three drivers has a better driver rating. That's elite company right there over the past two seasons. Since 2015 (6 races), he has posted 4 top 7 finishes in 6 races. He is legit driver here at Martinsville and he has ran very well all season long. There is no reason to not think that he won't contend for another top 5 finish on Sunday!

88-Alex Bowman: Bowman does not have a lot of experience here at Martinsville, so it will be interesting how well he does this weekend. There is no real comparable track to Martinsville, so it will make it difficult to say how well the 88 car does this weekend. I would have to say somewhere between 14th-20th seems likely. If he doesn't do well, you can expect a finish in the low-20s. Personally, I wouldn't expect anything better than the middle to high teens out of him. I am not really that confident in Alex Bowman. I think he will be a lot better in the fall race than the spring time.

***All stats are from and

Twitter - @JeffNathans18