The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville for the Xfinity 500 after Kyle Larson‘s win at Homestead. Let’s dive into the track information NASCAR DFS players need to know, what to expect at this weekend’s race, and early NASCAR fantasy advice.
NASCAR DFS: Xfinity 500
Martinsville Speedway Information
- Track: Martinsville Speedway
- Location: Ridgeway, Virginia
- Length: 0.5 miles (asphalt)
- Banking: 12 degrees in the turns
- Best corollary tracks: Richmond, New Hampshire, Phoenix (based more on length than anything else)
- Dominator Points:
- DraftKings: 125 – laps led, 225 – fastest laps
- FanDuel: 50 – laps led
- Past winners: William Byron (2022), Alex Bowman (2021-B), Martin Truex Jr. (2021-A)
- Betting favorite: Chase Elliott +650
- Entry List: 36 drivers, including J.J. Yeley (15), A.J. Allmendinger (16), Noah Gragson (48), Landon Cassill (77)
- Weather: High of 64 degrees, showers
- Watch: NBC, NBCSports.com
- Listen: MRN (MRN, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/XM Channel 90)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Saturday, October 29
- 12:00 p.m.: Practice
- 12:45 p.m.: Qualifying
- Sunday, October 30
- 2:00 p.m.: Green flag (130/260/500 laps)
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In Saturday’s practice session, it was clear from the start that there were going to be two contenders on Sunday: Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick. Both of the high-rim drivers were laying down fast practice speeds and seeing little drop-off, compared to the field, in tire wear relative to the field. After passing William Byron, following the first caution and restart of the day, Larson took the lead while Reddick dropped like a rock and eventually found himself a lap down and buried in the field. Larson, on the other hand, was unreachable with his speed and a wall of dirty air he was leaving in his wake.
The only hiccup in Larson’s day was an ill-timed caution when Ryan Blaney spun on the access road, leaving the pit road, while Larson was attempting to make his pit stop. This exchange handed the lead to Martin Truex Jr. and put Larson in a position where he had to chase the leader for the first time since the opening green flag. A final yellow flag for Tyler Reddick’s late wreck bunched the field back together, and coincidentally put Truex at the tail end of the lead lap after missing his pit stall/getting spun by Larson and having to do his pit stop in reverse. After the green flag waved Larson sailed off once again and locked the Hendrick 5 into the owner’s championship — a consolation prize after missing the third round of the playoffs with his 35th-place finish at the Charlotte Roval.
Via Larson’s victory, no one else joined Joey Logano with a punched ticket to the championship race in Phoenix. Thus, three spots will be up for grabs this Sunday at Martinsville, and if the Xfinity 500 plays out like last year’s iteration, it could be all three spots awarded via points. As they stand now, Ross Chastain has a 19-point cushion going into Sunday while Chase Elliott has just an 11-point lead over the cut-off line. Joining Logano, Chastain, and Elliott on the “in” side of the playoffs is Byron, just 5 points ahead of Denny Hamlin. After Hamlin, the point spreads start to grow to the point of needing a victory as the previously mentioned drivers should all be in line to add stage points to their totals. Blaney sits 18 points below the cut-off while Christopher Bell has a 33-point gap to Byron and Chase Briscoe is down 44 points.
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The final race in the third round of the playoffs heads to the historic half-mile at Martinsville for the Xfinity 500 to decide the championship four at Phoenix. When the Cup Series previously raced at Martinsville in the Spring, the Blue Emu 400 ended up being everything fans and DFS players feared it would be. At quasi-similar tracks like Phoenix and Richmond the week before, the racing was eerily similar to the 2019 high-horsepower/high-downforce package where passing was tough and the leader created a nearly impenetrable wall of dirty air behind them. Take a track shorter than either Phoenix or Richmond, with less room for passing, and this event could mirror those 2019 Martinsville races where Brad Keselowski and Truex ran away with the events. Furthermore, this race was being held in the evening on a cool night where grip would be as bountiful as chocolate in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The ingredients were all sitting there for a lap turner dominated by the drivers out front. That’s precisely what the cook served after 400 laps as Byron went to Victory Lane.
From the pole, Elliott led 185 laps mimicking Blaney’s efforts at Phoenix and Richmond when he too started on the pole and was unpassable thanks to dirty air. Eventually, Elliott would give way to Bryon starting fifth, who had won two nights previous to this race in the Trucks Series and led 212 laps himself. In all, just six total laps of 400 weren’t led by these two. With no rule changes to adjust this racing and a very cool and cloudy day in the forecast for this upcoming Sunday, it’s expected that this Sunday’s race at Martinsville reflects the race from this Spring. Yes, a potentially boring race but that does lineup one clear thing for DFS. The dominator selection process should focus on drivers starting up front, two to three, who showed speed in practice. The proverbial “hair in the ointment” could be in the impotence placed on certain drivers due to the “do or die” nature of this race combined with Martinsville’s nature for wrecks as drivers put chrome horns to fellow drivers in the corners. On the other hand, in this past Spring’s race, the caution flag was thrown just twice for on-track incidents. If passing really is that tough once more, even getting to the back end of a fellow competitor could be tough.
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