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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series just wrapped up a three-race West Coast swing, and the teams head to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for the first of three short track events over the next four races.
Martinsville is the smallest and slowest of NASCAR's short tracks, but its flat corners, paperclip shape, and treacherous pit road help make races here some of the most entertaining of the year.
When it comes to DFS NASCAR, Sunday's STP 500 will require a shift in philosophy. It is always important to maximize the points you earn in the dominator categories, but it is a must for short track events. There are 500 laps on tap this weekend, which means you will never find more points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
Last weekend at Auto Club, there were around 50 points available for laps led, and just under 100 points available for fastest laps run, give or take caution laps and overtime. This weekend, those point totals balloon to roughly 125 for laps led and 250 for fastest laps run.
Throw in the fact that is common for one driver to lead 200-plus laps in a race at Martinsville, and you have to roster the dominant driver if you want to win any of the top prizes. If you miss out on that driver, you just can't make up the points through finishing position or place differential.
With that in mind, I recommend loading up on multiple drivers who have a chance to score a bunch of points in the dominator categories, even if it means punting a couple of roster spots with cheaper options.
Johnson's numbers at Martinsville are in a class by themselves. In 30 starts, he has a 7.3 average finish, nine wins and 24 Top 10s. He also leads all drivers in laps led and fastest laps run here, and his 2,838 laps led are 1,475 more than any other active driver. Johnson led 92 laps and won at Martinsville last fall, and despite a slow start to 2017, he needs to be lineups this weekend.
He is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and Busch dominated the field last spring, leading 352 of the 500 laps. Among active drivers, Busch ranks third in laps led and fourth in fastest laps run at the track, and he has finished in the Top 5 in his last three starts here.
Starting up front tends to be a benefit at Martinsville, and Logano has qualified third or better in his last six starts here. He has used the track position to lead a combined 456 laps in that span, leading 20-plus laps in every race and leading 100-plus laps twice. If his success in qualifying continues, expect him to do some damage in the dominator categories.