Best Bets – Martinsville

Be sure to follow on Twitter @TwitVI for the latest NASCAR updates and trends. Daniel E. Dobish, two-time FSWA Racing Writer of the Year, can be followed on Twitter at danieledobish.

Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.

The MENCS heads back east for the first short-track race of the 2019 campaign at Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson (30/1) is a longshot according to the Vegas odds, as he has a 64-race win drought and counting. However, he leads all active drivers with nine victories in 34 career starts at Martinsville while also topping the charts with an 8.0 Average-Finish Position (AFP) in 34 career starts. He also has managed 19 Top 5 finishes, 24 Top 10s and 2,863 laps led, nearly twice as many as the nearest competitor. Will the drought be ended up Johnson, helping Chevrolet to their first victory of the season. Well, Ford has won three of the past five Martinsville races, while Chevy has just two checkered flags over the past eight stops at the Virginia short track. Johnson is the last driver to steer his Chevy to Victory Lane, well, the front stretch, at Martinsville. The track is so short, and space so tight, a tractor actually pulls out a stage to serve as a temporary Victory Lane.

Penske Racing's Joey Logano (6/1) helped Ford to a season sweep at Martinsville, turning in an average speed of 75.310 mph for his first-ever checkered flag in 20 career tries. He has six Top 5s, nine Top 10s and 825 laps led while sitting on the pole four times. He has an impressive 13.2 AFP and he has never had a DNF at the track. Teammate Brad Keselowski (9/2) is among the favorites to win his second win in his 19th career start at the track. He won the STP 500 back in April 2017 in a race which featured 18 lead changes, the most since Nov. 2015. Keselowski has posted a 115.3 Driver Rating over the past five Martinsville races, second-most among all active drivers according to NASCAR's Loop Data. He has run 92.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15, while Logano has managed 93.1 percent of his laps in the Top 15 during the same five-race span.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch (9/5) enters on a two-race win streak, and haters of the No. 18 might not be terribly thrilled with Sunday's race. He leads all drivers with a 128.0 Driver Rating across the past five stops at Martinsville, posting 585 laps while running all of his laps inside the Top 15 during the span. He was second in the spring race last season, and fourth in the fall race. But he won the fall race in 2017, and he took checkers in the spring race in 2016, too. He has recorded seven consecutive Top 5 finishes at Martinsville, so it could be three in a row for Rowdy.

Teammate Martin Truex Jr. (6/1) has managed a 107.5 Driver Rating over the past five Martinsville starts, leading 211 laps while posting a 6.4 AFP during the span while running 95.6 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Overall in 26 starts he has no wins at the track, while managing an 18.4 AFP with 10 Top 10s and just 262 laps led with two DNFs. JGR's Denny Hamlin (10/1) is nipping at Johnson's heels in AFP among active drivers, posting a 9.8 Average-Finish Position over his 26 starts. He has five wins, also second to Johnson, while finishing 13 of his 26 career starts at the track inside the Top 5. He has also led 1,536 laps  with just two DNFs, and only four of his 26 finishes had been outside of the Top 20. However, two of those non-Top 20s have happened in his past six starts at the track. He was a runner-up in the fall race in 2018.

Stewart-Haas Racing's Clint Bowyer (10/1) won last season's spring race on a Monday afternoon after snow canceled the run on Sunday. While the air was still very chilly, Bowyer was red hot, picking up his first-ever win at the Paper Clip in 26 starts. He has six Top 5s, 15 Top 10s and 572 laps led while posting a 13.8 AFP. Teammate Kevin Harvick (15/1) enters this weekend with no laps led over his past two races, but that could change in Martinsville. He has a win, five Top 5s and 17 Top 10s in 35 career starts at the Virginia short track with a 15.3 AFP and just one DNF. Aric Almirola (25/1) hasn't had a lot of success in the past at this short track, but he has been much improved across the board with SHR. Perhaps his luck changes with their short-track program this weekend. Almirola has 20 career starts, just one Top 5 and three Top 10s with four DNFs and a poor 21.5 AFP.

Hendrick's Chase Elliott (20/1) rolls into the STP 500 with seven career starts under his belt, and just one Top 5 and three Top 10s, although he has led the pack for 143 laps. That includes a ninth-place run in the spring race, and a seventh-place finish in the fall run. His teammate William Byron (100/1) has struggled in his first couple of Cup runs at this short track, too, posting a 20th and 39th-place run with one DNF in his two starts. Hendrick's Alex Bowman (80/1) has also struggled in his brief Cup history at Martinsville, posting only one Top 10 with no laps led in six starts while turning in a very subpar 24.7 AFP.

Ganassi Racing's Kurt Busch (25/1) has two career victories at this track, but he also has only three Top 5s and six Top 10s in his 37 career starts with three DNFs and a subpar 21.0 AFP. His teammate Kyle Larson (50/1) has also had his issues, going for just one Top 5 and one Top 10 with 29 laps led and four DNFs in 10 career starts with a mediocre 24.2 AFP.  

Those who have had a lot of difficult at the track include Bubba Wallace (250/1), as he has posted a pair of 34th-place finishes in two career Cup starts at Martinsville. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (100/1) has had his struggles at Martinsville, too, posting a 28.2 AFP across 12 starts with no laps led and one DNF.