NASCAR Fantasy 2015: Goody's Headache Relief 500 Top Drivers and Sleeper Picks

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2015

Drivers take the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums QuikPak 500 auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Martinsville, Virginia, this week for the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. The race can be seen this Sunday at 1:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The best way to assemble a dominant DraftKings lineup is to select the perfect combination of top drivers and sleeper picks. A sleeper pick is any driver priced under $8,000 who has a legitimate chance of finishing in the top 10. Fantasy teams who can find the perfect sleeper picks to combine with the top drivers will be taking home the cash in their contest.

The Contender Round of the Chase ended with much controversy, but the eight drivers are set to see who will advance to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Fantasy players must consider the eight drivers left in the Chase (Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch) for their DraftKings contest this week. These drivers have more to race for than the rest of the field, and their teams will put all of their resources into getting these drivers to the front Sunday.

The Sprint Cup Series last competed in Martinsville last March. The race was dominated by Harvick, Logano and Denny Hamlin. The three drivers combined to lead 353 of the 500 laps. Hamlin was able to beat Keselowski to the checkered flag and win his fifth race at the track.

Here are the top 10 drivers with the highest point totals from the last race at Martinsville from ifantasyrace.com.

DraftKings Top 10 Drivers From the March Race at Martinsville
1Denny Hamlin120.25
2Kevin Harvick112.5
3Joey Logano86.5
4Brad Keselowski71
5Matt Kenseth58.75
6David Ragan57
7Danica Patrick51.5
8Kurt Busch50.75
9Aric Almirola49.75
10Clint Bowyer49.5

The best strategy for the race at Martinsville is to try and find the drivers who will lead laps. There are 500 laps in the race and 125 bonus points available for leading laps. The winner of the pole has averaged to lead 114 laps in the last five races at Martinsville. If the winner of the pole is also fast in the Happy Hour practice Saturday, that driver must be selected for your contest.

Top Drivers

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevy ($10,600)

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Harvick is a strong candidate to lead the most laps and find his way to Victory Lane Sunday. He has led 2,056 laps this season and has scored the most top-five finishes. Harvick also knows his way around the short tracks. He has two top-five finishes and three finishes in the top 10 on tracks shorter than one mile.

In the last race at Martinsville, Harvick qualified 17th and quickly made his way to the front. He led the most laps (154) but faded as the laps came to an end. Harvick has won at this track before and should be considered one of the favorites to win Sunday.  

Harvick is once again the highest priced driver in DraftKings contest this week. The question is: Should he be? Logano has won three consecutive races, while Harvick has had problems in the Contender Round of the Chase. Harvick is worth the price because of the number of laps he is capable of leading. The gap between Logano and Harvick is only $100, so Harvick is not overly priced this week.

Kevin Harvick Stats at Martinsville (28 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

Harvick will want to quiet his critics after all of the controversy surrounding him at Talladega. He did what he had to do to advance to the next round. Now Harvick has to prove he belongs as a member of the Eliminator Round of the Chase.

Joey Logano, Team Penske Racing, Ford ($10,500)

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

NASCAR fans have not seen a driver dominate the Chase like Logano has this year since Jimmie Johnson won four races in row at the end of the 2007 season. He is too hot right now to fade in daily fantasy sports.

Logano has been able to win at every type of track this season. He won two races on the Superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega), two races on the intermediate tracks (Charlotte and Kansas), one on the road course (Watkins Glen) and one race on the short track (Bristol). The type of track does not make a difference for the No. 22 team.

Logano won the pole and led the second-most laps in the last race at Martinsville. He also scored the third-most points in DraftKings contests. It would be a good idea to continue to use Logano until another driver proves they can outrun the No. 22 car.

Logano should be the highest-priced driver in DraftKings contests, and his salary should be over $11,000. He has outperformed every driver for the last month, but his price continues to be affordable. Logano should be the first driver that fantasy teams build their lineups around this week.

Joey Logano Stats at Martinsville (16 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

As well as Logano has run in the Chase, his team must realize that the points are reset to 4,000 and every driver starts the Eliminator Round with an equal chance of advancing to Homestead-Miami. This is good news for fantasy players because it means the No. 22 team will continue to give their best effort and try to win the race Sunday.


Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota ($10,200)

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

It is always a good idea to select drivers who are still alive in the Chase, but Hamlin is too good at Martinsville to pass up this week. He has the third-best driver ranking and the third-best average finish position in the last five races at the track. Hamlin will be looking for his sixth win at the track from his home state.

Hamlin drove a brilliant race in March at Martinsville. He qualified 15th, had the best driver rating and led 91 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Hamlin has an average finish position on 8.32 in his 19 races at the track. That places Martinsville as Hamlin’s fourth-best track on the schedule.  

It is hard to tell how Hamlin will run this week. His stats at Martinsville suggest he should be one of the best drivers in the field, and DraftKings has priced him accordingly. Hamlin could be testing for his two teammates (Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards) left in the Chase and not perform as well as expected. I doubt that happens, though. Hamlin will be worth his price this week.

Denny Hamlin Stats at Martinsville (19 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

Hamlin is another driver who will bring much motivation to the track this week. He was obviously upset with what happened at Talladega. I think Hamlin will want to prove he should have been in this round of the Chase by winning at Martinsville Sunday.

Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevy ($10,300)

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Gordon is the perfect pick for your DraftKings contest this week. He probably will not be highly owned, he has a lot to race for and his stats at Martinsville compare with any other driver in the sport.

Gordon has a series-best driver rating and a series-best average finish position at Martinsville. He has visited Victory Lane eight times in his career at the track. Gordon has finished 22 of the last 25 races at Martinsville in the top 10. He is the safest pick in the field this week.

DraftKings must agree that Gordon is one of the best choices for your contest this week. Usually Gordon is priced between $9,000 and $8,500, but this week his price shot up to $10,300. Gordon has a great chance to run up front Sunday and make him well worth his salary this week.

Jeff Gordon Stats at Martinsville (45 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

If Gordon wants to ride into the sunset after winning his fifth championship, he may need to win one of the next three races, and Martinsville will be his best chance. I expect Hendrick Motorsports to provide Gordon the best car they have in their garage and for his three eliminated teammates (Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne) to help him with the setup in his car.



Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota ($7,300)

Apr 11, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer (15) during the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Bowyer may be one of the most underrated drivers at Martinsville. He has never been to Victory Lane at the track, but he had the best car and has run up front on numerous occasions. Bowyer has the third-best average finishing position and the sixth-best driver rating at the track. This is the week to use Bowyer for your contest. 

Bowyer had one of the slowest cars in the practice sessions before the last race at Martinsville. He qualified 30th and carried the team to a 13th-place finish. The No. 15 team got stronger at the end of the race, and the information it learned will help it in the race Sunday.

Bowyer is severely underpriced this week. His stats at Martinsville suggest he should be one of the highest-priced drivers in the field this week, but his current results have kept his price low. Fantasy teams need to take advantage of his discount because he usually runs well at this track.

Clint Bowyer Stats at Martinsville (19 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

This has not been a very good season for Bowyer, but he has been able to run well. Bowyer has the third-best average finish position on tracks shorter than one mile. He has finished three of the five races in the top 10. Bowyer should easily finish in the top 10 again this week.

David Ragan, Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota ($5,800)

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 25:  David Ragan, driver of the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 25, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Get
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Ragan had his best race of the season in March at Martinsville. He was filling in for an injured Kyle Busch and piloted the No. 18 car to a top-five finish. Some people may stay away from Ragan this week because he will not be driving the same car this week, but Ragan was also able to finish in the top 10 with his Front Row Motorsports car last season.  

Ragan is another driver fantasy teams can select at a discounted price this week. Whenever you can get a driver who finished in the top five at a track earlier in the season for under $6,000, you have to select that driver for your contest. Ragan has a good chance for a top-15 finish, but there are 29 other drivers with a higher price than him.

David Ragan Stats at Martinsville (18 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

It would be nice to see the No. 55 team have another good run before the team calls it quits following the 2015 season. If this is going to happen, Martinsville in the perfect track for the team to finish in the top 10. Ragan will be able to bring his experience from Joe Gibbs Racing to help with the setup of the car. He is my No. 1 sleeper pick this week.

Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford ($5,800)

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 13:  Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Ge
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Almirola has been running well in the Chase races. He has finished four of the six races in the top 16 and finished the last two races on short tracks (Richmond and Dover) in the top five. I would not be surprised to see him have a great run again Sunday.  

I had to take a second look at Almirola’s price when I first looked at the prices for DraftKings this week. He has been one of the better competitors on the short tracks this season, and his price is only $5,800. Almirola's price is too good to pass up this week. He should be selected for every contest.

Aric Almirola Stats at Martinsville (13 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

The No. 43 team is not racing for a place in the Chase, but another top-five finish would go a long way for this team. It started off the season slowly and started to put together quality finishes at the end of the summer. It will be important that the team runs well in the last four races so it has momentum entering the 2016 Daytona 500.

AJ Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevy ($6,100)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 24:  AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in India
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Allmendinger is not the first name most people think of when it comes to top drivers at Martinsville. Drivers have compared this track to a road course because of the way they have to out-brake their competitors in the corners. Allmendinger is the best driver in the series on the road courses, and Martinsville is a perfect fit for his driving style.

Do not use the stats from the March race to determine whether to use Allmendinger this week. The stats are very misleading. He qualified 10th and finished last because of an engine issue. He was running inside the top 10 when he was sent to the garage. I doubt the same issues happen this week.

While the other drivers on the sleeper list come at a bargain price, Allmendinger is priced about where I expected him to be this week. Allmendinger will probably outperform his $6,100 salary, but his results this season have kept his price down. Allmendinger is a good fifth or sixth driver for your contest this week.

AJ Allmendinger Stats at Martinsville (14 Career Races)
WinsTop 5'sTop 10'sAvg StartAvg Finish

He has never won a race on an oval track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series but came very close to winning in 2012 at Martinsville. Allmendinger qualified 27th and raced his way through the field for a second-place finish. He should have another good race Sunday.

DraftKings Picks for Martinsville

Driver 1: Joey Logano ($10,500)

Driver 2: Kevin Harvick ($10,600)

Driver 3: Denny Hamlin ($10,200)

Driver 4: Ryan Newman ($7,100)

Driver 5: David Ragan ($5,800)

Driver 6: Aric Almirola ($5,800)

Advanced stats courtesy Racing-Reference.Info and Yahoo Racing Stats.

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