Fantasy NASCAR Picks for Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2012

Fantasy NASCAR Picks for Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

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    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will move from the spacious two-mile racetrack in Fontana to the narrow flat half-mile racetrack at Martinsville Speedway.

    The rain shortened race at Fontana was good for my team. I started Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, and David Reutimann in the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game. The lineup was good enough for 276-points (1,413 total points for the season) and moved me back up to the top 99 percent of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing players.

    For the NASCAR Fantasy Live game, I started Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, and Brendan Gaughan. I did not fare as well in the Fantasy Live game.

    Hamlin decided to pit on the last caution causing him to lose 11 positions, Johnson had an oil leak that dropped him to No. 10, Kenseth had a penalty on pit road, and Gaughan had a drive train problem on lap one that ended his race. The lineup scored only 124 points and 1,055 total points for the season. Currently I am ranked 4,981 overall in the nascar.com Fantasy Live standings.

    It will be much easier to pick the good drivers at Martinsville.

    The drivers are either reel good at this track or real bad. When you look at the average finish of each driver in the field it is not hard to see who is good and who is bad.

    Here are my picks for the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game and NASCAR Fantasy Live played on nascar.com…..

Yahoo Group A Drivers

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    This is one of the rare weeks in the NASCAR season where the teams have two practices on Friday and qualify on Saturday. Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing lineups must be selected by Saturday morning. This will allow fantasy NASCAR players the opportunity to watch the drivers in practice before selecting their team.

    I am providing my selections for the race in this column. After practice on Friday I will determine my final selections. Visit my Fantasy NASCAR Tips page on facebook Friday night to see which drivers I am starting for the race. You can also see 11 other experts’ picks for the race.

    There are many drivers in Group A who have had a lot of success at this track.

    Two drivers really stand out at Martinsville: Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson (I will go into detail about their success in my picks below).

    Other drivers who have been good at Martinsville include: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.

    Harvick won the spring race at Martinsville last year. In his 21 career races at the track, Harvick has 10 top-10 finishes, three top-5 finishes, and one win.

    Gordon used to be the best driver at Martinsville. In his career Gordon has 31 top-10 finishes, 25 top-5 finishes, won seven poles, and won seven races. He is still a good choice, but I think there are better choices.

    Busch has recently learned how to get around the fast paper clip racetrack. In the last three races at Martinsville Busch finished No. 3, No. 4 and No. 27. He also led 277-laps. If you want to pick a driver some of your competitors may not have on their team, Busch is a good choice.

    Stewart won the last race at Martinsville. He did not have the best car in the field but drove the wheels off his car to bring it to Victory Lane. Stewart is a good pick this week but I suggest saving him for the intermediate racetracks. Until someone proves they can beat him on an intermediate racetrack, he is the driver to have.

    Here are my selections for the Yahoo Group A:

    Denny Hamlin

    Martinsville is Hamlin’s best track. Hamlin has won three of the past five races at Martinsville. He is now teamed up with the Crew Chief who won the last race at the track, Darian Grub.

    Hamlin has led at least 40-laps in each of the past six races at Martinsville. Since Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing awards bonus points for leading laps, Hamlin is almost guaranteed at least 10 bonus points in the race.

    Hamlin is the driver who should be on every roster this week in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing.

    Jimmie Johnson

    Johnson finally found his golden horseshoe last week. Just when his car was ready to blow up the rain started to fall. Johnson is one of the most dominant drivers at Martinsville. With luck on his side as well, Johnson may be unbeatable on Sunday.

    If Johnson wins this week he will match his teammate Gordon with seven Grandfather clocks in his trophy case. The difference between the two drivers is it took Gordon 33-races to win seven Grandfather clocks at Martinsville. This will be Johnson’s 21-race at Martinsville.

    Other good picks: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart.

Yahoo Group B Drivers

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    Selecting the right drivers from Group B will be the key to moving your fantasy team to the top of your league standings. I have my eye on a handful of drivers this week. After practice on Friday it will be very easy to select the best four for your team. (Do not forget to check out my picks Friday night on my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page)

    Here are my selections for Yahoo Group B:

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. will definitely win the race on Sunday. April fools!

    It might be a stretch to pick Earnhardt to win any race but he will be one of the drivers to beat.

    Earnhardt has been very good at Martinsville. In his last four races at Martinsville, Earnhardt has an average finish of 8.25 with 107-laps led. Unless Earnhardt has a complete meltdown in practice I plan to have him on my team this week.

    Ryan Newman

    I hate to burn up all of my starts with Newman so quickly but I think he may win the pole (would earn 10 bonus points) and should race up front on Sunday.

    My strategy is to have Newman on my team and hope he wins the pole and find another driver on my team who performed well in practice to use in the race. This would give me the bonus points for the pole and I will not have to use Newman on my team.

    Joey Logano

    All of the Joe Gibbs drivers are strong at Martinsville. This may be Logano’s best racetrack.

    In his last four races at Martinsville, Logano has an average finish of 9.75. That is the fourth best out of any driver in the field on Sunday.

    Logano is one of the drivers I will be watching in practice on Friday. If he lives up to expectations he will definitely be one of the drivers on my team.

    Jeff Burton

    Jeff Burton is a Virginia native and Martinsville is his home racetrack. Burton usually performs well in front of his home fans.

    In his 35 career starts at Martinsville, Burton has 16 top-10 finishes, 10 top-five finishes, led 940-laps, and won one race. Although I do not think Burton will win the race on Sunday, I do think he can finish in the top-10.

    Other good picks: Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, and A.J. Allmendinger

Yahoo Group C Drivers

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    Last week it was very difficult to find a good driver in Group C. This week there are only two logical choices to go with: Brian Vickers and Aric Almirola.

    Brian Vickers

    As of right now Vickers is scheduled to race five races for Michael Waltrip Racing. In his first race in the No. 55 car Vickers finished No. 5. It is a good idea to use Vickers on your team whenever he is driving the No. 55 car.

    Last year Vickers almost wrecked the entire field in the fall race at Martinsville. The way he drove in that race may be responsible for the lack of interest in his talents behind the wheel. I think that race is behind him and he will be out to prove that last year’s race was just a bad day.

    In the last four races at Martinsville, Vickers has the highest average finish out of any of the drivers in Group C. He will finish in the top-20 on Sunday.

    Aric Almirola

    Martinsville is not Almirola’s best racetrack. In his last four races at Martinsville his average finish is No. 31. So why should you pick him on your team?

    Other than Vickers, Almirola will have the best car out of any of the drivers in Group C. He has improved upon his career averages at most of the racetracks this year. This week his will improve upon his No. 34 career average finish at Martinsville.

    Other good picks: David Ragan, Casey Mears, and Bobby Lobante

Fantasy Live Picks (nascar.com)

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    Last week’s team: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, and Brendan Gaughan

    What a disaster last week was for me in the Fantasy Live game. I want to apologize to anyone who used my picks. I had no idea each member of my team would run into some type of problem at Fontana.

    Everyone has a bad week. I do not plan to make it a habit.

    This is another race with 500 laps. Since the Fantasy Live game awards .5 points for every lap led, my strategy will be to load my team with drivers I think will lead many laps and take two drivers who will come from the back and finish up front.

    Unlike the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game, Fantasy Live allows players to change their drivers up to the start of the race. I will give my selections for my team now, but I suggest looking at where each driver qualifies in the race before setting your team. My updated selections will be on my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on facebook Saturday evening.

    Here are my picks for NASCAR Fantasy Live:

    Denny Hamlin $25.25

    Denny Hamlin is almost a lock to lead 100 laps. If he is able to do so your team would receive 50 bonus points. That could be the push your team needs to move to the top of the standings.

    Hamlin has only finished outside the top-10 at Martinsville once in his last 11 races.

    Hamlin is the one driver I think every team should have this week.

    Jimmie Johnson $25.00  

    If Hamlin is not leading the race there is a good chance that Jimmie Johnson will be.

    In his last four races at Martinsville, Johnson has an average finish 6.75 with 126-laps led.

    Johnson has a streak of 19 races in a row at Martinsville of finishing the race No. 11 or better. He is the closest thing to a guaranteed top-10 as there is in the race.

    Jeff Gordon $23.50

    Jeff Gordon is one of the selections I think will start in the middle of the pack and work his way forward. That has been his track record so far this year.

    Unfortunately he also has a track record of having mistakes on pit road or wrecking once he gets up front. I am hoping that some of Johnson’s luck rubs off on Gordon this week.

    He cannot be this bad with such good cars all season long, can he?

    Jamie McMurray $15  

    This is my sleeper pick for the week.

    Most people do not know that Martinsville is one of McMurray’s best racetracks.

    In his 18 career starts at Martinsville, McMurray has 10 top-10 finishes, one top-five finish, led 117-laps, and won one pole. Not too bad for a driver only costing $15.

    Aric Almirola $10

    Last week I made a big mistake and sold Aric Almirola for Brendan Gaughan. Almirola’s price went up $2 so now I have to pay the extra money to have him back on my team.

    This is my first year playing Fantasy Live and sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

    Almirola is my second driver who I think will start in the middle of the pack and work his way forward. He may not score me a lot of points but his price will allow me to stack my team with drivers who will.

    Total budget: $98.75

    Good luck this week!

    If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @HuskerMagic.

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    Chad’s Fantasy NASCAR Picks