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STP 500: Power Rankings

Get ready to trade some rubber at Martinsville

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The rules I have implemented for myself are:

1.I will not pick a driver more than 10 times this season.

2.Due to #1 these are “Power Rankings” (in quotations) I’m looking for value here.

My general format for my power rankings:

•Top 2 picks will generally be the favorites, the ones who should be top 5 or top 10 finishes.

• #3 and #4 will be your riskier picks, could be top 5 or bottom 15.

• Pick #5 is the dark horse.

Race Information

Race: STP 500

Laps: 500

Date: March 25th

Venue: Martinsville Speedway

2017 Winner: Brad Keslowski (3:44:59)

Broadcast: Fox (Darrel Waltrip & Jeff Gordon)

Course: Martinsville Speedway. Located in Ridgeway, VA, this half mile track is the shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series. It was built in 1947 by H. Clay Earles and stands as one of the first oval tracks in NASCAR. It uses Concrete for the turns but sticks with Asphalt on the straightaways. The constant braking is tricky here so it’s best to have someone who knows what they are doing and has a record of success.

Power Rankings

Favorites

1) Kyle Busch (2nd selection this year). Since his 25th finish (wreck) at Daytona, Kyle has been a top 7 finisher in every race this year. Add to that his track record here: 2nd in 2017 and winner in 2016 and he’s a favorite to come away with the win at Martinsville.

2) Denny Hamlin (3rd selection this year). He is tied among active drivers for the most wins here with 3 (Jimmie Johnson is the other) he has had all of one race where he finished outside the top 6 this year.

High Risk/Reward

3) Austin Dillon (1st selection this year). After his win at Daytona, his last 4 races have all landed 10th or worse. He has a good record at the STP 500 with a 5th place finish last year and 4th place in 2016.

4) Clint Bowyer (2nd selection this year). Up and down year with every other race landing him in the top 10. Good news, this is that ‘other race’. Add to that his recent record here where he was 7th last year and there is potential for a top 10 finish. Prior to last year he was 25th in 2016 and 13th in 2015 so it’s not a long track record.

Dark Horse

5) AJ Allmendinger (1st selection this year). He has one finish inside the top 20 and it was the wreck riddled Daytona that started this year. He’s familiar with Martinsville where he was 6th last year and 2ndin 2016, he knows how to avoid the cavalcade of wrecks and tight turns.

2018 Stats

Favorites: Avg Finish 10th (27th percentile)

High Risk/High Reward 17th (45th percentile)

Dark Horse: 20th (55th percentile)