After a well-earned week off, the season continues with the NASCAR Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500. This week’s race is a Saturday night special under the lights at one of the most historic tracks on the circuit. Drivers will race for 500 laps around the Martinsville Speedway short track. Races on this track date back to 1949 when Red Byron took home the first checkered flag here in his ‘49 Oldsmobile.
This week, NASCAR has returned to its qualifying formula to set the field. The formula takes into account owner standings, finishing position in the previous race, car owner’s finish in the previous race, as well as the rank of the driver’s fastest lap in the previous race. Based on the number crunching, Joey Logano, who won last week’s Bristol dirt race, is on the pole.
DraftKings contests for NASCAR depend on two factors; dominator points, and place differential. Drivers accumulate dominator points by leading laps as well as posting the fastest laps during the race. Place differential points come as a result of a driver finishing in front (or behind) of their starting position. To be successful, you will need to strike a balance between the two. Of course, it helps to have the winning driver. That said, sometimes in cash games, you can hang on to the money line if you have a driver with a sizable differential.
Here are some suggestions based on these two designations. They are meant to mix and match and do not suggest a full lineup. These are merely drivers to consider when constructing your rosters. I always suggest you do some more research of your own on top of what I offer. Let’s make this a profitable season and above all, let’s have some fun.
NASCAR Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 DraftKings Picks
#19 – Martin Truex Jr. ($12,000); Starting Position 7th
Two out of the last three checkered flags from the Martinsville Speedway Cup races belong to Martin Truex Jr. In the Fall 2019 race, he truly dominated the race by leading 464 out of the 500 total laps around the paper clip. He started from the third position that day. The Spring 2020 race saw him take the green flag in fifth. On lap 369, he passed Brad Keselowski for the lead and never relinquished it, crossing the finish line in first. He led a total 132 laps and turned in 58 of the fastest laps of the day.
Martin Truex Jr. wins the truck race and keeps the momentum going as he wins the opening stage of the Cup race on the Bristol dirt. pic.twitter.com/aISHPe9Vrn
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) March 29, 2021
Before the Bristol dirt experiment, Truex was enjoying a streak of four top-10 finishes dating back to Homestead. His Joe Gibbs, Bass Pro Shop, Toyota Camry has been fast so far this season. This is evident by the 233 laps he’s led to go along with him posting 161 of the fastest laps. It should not take him long to work his way up to the front. He’s proven that once he gets there, he can stay there. Truex Jr. should be a staple in cash games and you should have some exposure to him in tournaments.
#22 – Joey Logano ($10,000); Starting Position 1st
Looking back at Logano’s history at Martinsville will tell you to go light on your overall Logano shares this week. That does not mean that it’s wise for you to fade him completely. He has been in victory lane here taking home his first Martinsville checkered flag in the 2018 fall race. In last season’s offering of the NASCAR Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, he led 243 laps. He added 61 fastest laps to his day ending his run with more than 120 points finishing fourth. In the race he won, he led 309 laps with 51 of the fastest laps of the day.
Miss NASCAR Overtime yesterday?
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 30, 2021
The powers that be at NASCAR may have done the rest of the field a disservice by awarding Joey Lognao the pole. Should he find clean air on the first lap, he might be difficult to pass for a very long time. Teams will likely have to use the competition caution and everyone thereafter to out pit Lagano. Beating him on the track will be a tough task. He and his Penske Pennzoil Ford Mustang already have four top-10 finishes including their impressive win last week on the Bristol dirt.
#9 – Chase Elliot ($11,400); Starting Position 5th
The reigning NASCAR champion was the last driver to take home a checkered flag from the Martinsville Speedway. Chase Elliot won the fall 2020 run on the paper clip. For just under half of the race, Elliot led the pack. In fact, for 236 laps, the #9 paced the field. On top of that, he remained one of the fastest cars on the track. He proved it by clocking 110 laps faster than any of his competitors. Short-track racing at Martinsville does not scare him either. In his brief 11 race history at the Speedway, he owns six top-10 finishes with four of those inside the top-5.
He’ll look to turn around some tough luck to start the 2021 season. After a promising second-place finish at the Daytona 500, Elliot has only managed to muster one other top-5 finish in Phoenix. This week, his Chevy Camaro rolls off from the fifth position. By rostering him, you are hoping for muscle memory to kick in and for him to return to fall form. Last season he won starting eighth. He has a three-position head start from that this weekend. Elliot is a suitable tournament pivot in your NASCAR Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 DraftKings multi-entry contests.
#1 – Kurt Busch ($8,900); Starting Position 21st
Whatever the light switch was that flipped for Kurt Busch in 2018, it’s safe to assume he wants to leave it be. As a whole, his 21-year history at Martinsville has been an overwhelming tidal wave of double-digit finishes. Most of them were drastically outside of the top-15. It’s a wonder how he managed to win even two of them along the way. Three years ago though, that trend took a sharp turn upward. In six races since the start of the 2018 season, Busch has four top-10 finishes. The other two were not that far outside as he finished 11th in the Spring of 2018 and 12th in the next Spring race. His best finish in that span was his fifth-place finish the last time out on this track.
Busch has yet to put it all together this season. He has managed two solid outings in the first seven races. On the road course at Daytona, he moved up from his 17th starting position to cross the finish line in fourth place. The following week at Homestead, he managed an eighth-place finish. The only downside there was his losing three spots from where he started. You are not selecting Busch to gain you any lap points, so here, you want to see a top-10 run. He should be considered an adequate climber for your NASCAR Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 DraftKings lineup.
#21 – Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800); Starting Position 22nd
Momentum is truly on Matt DiBenedetto’s side at Martinsville. He is coming off a 2020 season that saw his best two career finishes on the paper clip. In the Spring running, roared from his 19th starting position to log a seventh-place finish. That fall, he turned a 12th place start into a tenth place outing. It’s clear that his Wood Brothers Ford Mustang loves this track. That love is mutual as the Glenn Wood Tower graces the grandstands off of Turn 1.
— Flyin18T Motorsports (@Flyin18T) April 8, 2021
DiBenedetto has been sniffing the top-10 for the last month. He has an average finish of 13.5 over his last four races. Last week on the dirt at Bristol, he managed to hang on for a 13th place finish losing only one spot from his 12th place start. This week is another short track, minus the soil. Hopefully, with a little more traction, he can improve upon his previous finish and finally crack the top-10 for the second time this season. His job might be a little tougher as he’ll be without his regular crew chief Greg Erwin. Even still, he should still have enough race in him for a good showing on Saturday night.