Blue-Emu 500 DFS Gems

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Dan Beaver
·9 min read
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Martinsville Speedway’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 is the second short track race of the season and the first on pavement. That means a lot of last week’s best performers will be near top of the chart again this week – and several of them won’t.

Even when it’s paved, Bristol Motor Speedway is quite dissimilar to Martinsville. One track is high-banked and can occasionally develop a second groove. Martinsville’s turns are much tighter with minimal banking – and the only way around is to hug the curb.

On the dirt configuration last week, standard short track aces performed well. It will take some time before all the data is digested, but dirt tracks reward throttle control. So does Martinsville. At both Bristol and Martinsville – and in a week, Richmond Raceway – another key factor is balancing aggression and patience while in traffic.


Martinsville also shares a lot of similarities with the flat 1-mile ovals of Phoenix Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, so look to those courses for inspiration.

On all of the short, flat tracks, a pass in Turns 1 and 3 will have been set up in 2 and 4. Drivers back up the apex of these corners and nail the accelerator. Strong engines are important, but timing and technique are much more critical.

For that reason, we think of these courses as drivers’ tracks. Last spring there were several pleasant surprises among the top 15 in the Blue-Emu 500 who could open the door for some interesting dark horse picks this week. Michael McDowell and Kurt Busch were the best of these. McDowell finished seventh and backed that up with a 10th in the fall. Busch was ninth in the spring and fifth in the fall.

Just outside the top 10 – but strong enough to earn major DraftKings points – were Bubba Wallace in 11th, Ryan Newman in 12th, Chris Buescher in 13th, and Michael McDowell in 14th.

Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Ryan Blaney ($10,100)
Blaney is not only the least expensive among the Group A drivers, he has been the strongest overall in the past two seasons. Without a win, he nevertheless scored runner-up finishes in both of last year’s Martinsville races. He swept the top five in 2019 and was third in spring 2018 to give him five top-fives in the last six races on the paperclip. He may not win, but the points’ differential between him and the field will be close enough to reward you with better picks in the middle tiers.

Group B: (Between $9,800 and $8,100)

Kyle Busch ($9,800)
We were unwilling to take a risk on Busch in regard to a wager for the outright win early this week, [https://edit-edge.nbcsports.com/edge/article/best-bets/beavers-best-bets-blue-emu-500] but the risk of being wrong is less impactful in the DraftKings game. Moreover, with one point awarded for each position of positive place-differential, Busch’s misadventures on the dirt track last week will play into your favor. Busch has not earned a top-five in the last three Martinsville races, but immediately preceding that stretch were eight consecutive top-fives that included wins in 2016 and 2017.

William Byron ($8,700)
We might have profiled either of the Hendrick Motorsports Group B drivers this week, but the nod goes to Byron over Alex Bowman ($9,200) in part because of his greater success so far in 2021 as well as his lower cost in the DraftKings game. Byron was part of the fresh-face brigade at the top of the order last fall with an eighth-place finish. He sustained crash damage in the fall and lost more than 40 laps making repairs. Otherwise he might have a current three-race, top-10 streak.

Group C: (Between $7,800 and $7,000)

Tyler Reddick ($7,500)
While most of the competition had their eyes on Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and some dirt track interlopers, it was Reddick who added his name to the top 10 in the Food City Dirt Race. He finished seventh – and while we do not think another top-10 is in the offing, it would not be a surprise to see him in the top 15 if he can manage the first half of the race well enough to stay in contact with the lead lap. In NASCAR, drivers have to learn how to succeed before they can string solid runs together. Then it becomes muscle memory.

Bubba Wallace ($7,300)
Likewise Wallace is coming off a strong Bristol run. He was in contention for a top-10 there before a flat tire late in the race sent him to the pits and out of contention. This team is steadily improving, even if the rapidity of that pace is less apparent. It is going to take a while for them to earn consistent top-10s, but we would be surprised if Wallace does not at least contend for a top-15 this week.

Group D: (Between $6,800 and $5,600)

Ryan Newman ($6,800)
It is shocking to see Newman available this cheaply for the Blue-Emu 500. He’s coming off his best run of the season with a fifth-place finish on the Bristol dirt. That is his second top-10 of the year, following a seventh on the 1.5-mile track of Atlanta. Most importantly: Martinsville has been one of his best tracks. He failed to earn a top-10 there last year for the first time since 2013. In every season since that disappointing year, he had one result of 10th or better each time – and last year he did not miss by much with a 12th in the spring.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($5,800)
Stenhouse is also coming off a solid run at Bristol that should give him momentum. His second-place finish was most likely his best chance to win on an unrestricted speedway this year, but daily fantasy players could care less if he finds Victory Lane or doesn’t. Short tracks reward a certain level of aggression and both Newman and Stenhouse have proved their worth this year. Stenhouse swept the top 10 at Martinsville in 2017 and scored a 15th in fall 2019.

Group E: (Less than or equal to $5,500)

Michael McDowell ($5,500)
The pickings are pretty slim at the very bottom of the list. Then again, that’s why you can get these drivers this cheaply. McDowell was one of last spring’s pleasant surprises with his 15th-place finish that netted 23 points. That was 14th-best and in line with his finish. As the low hanging playoff fruit in the eventuality that there are more than 16 unique winners this season, McDowell is going have to start concentrating on points in case of a tiebreaker. Drivers’ tracks are where this team will put their greatest effort.

The top-10 points’ earners from last fall were: Chase Elliott (167), Ryan Blaney (84.5), Martin Truex Jr. (71.75), Joey Logano (61.25), Aric Almirola (56), Brad Keselowski (51.25), Denny Hamlin (49), Clint Bowyer (49), Matt Kenseth (48.5), and Kurt Busch (47.75).

Greatest Place-differential Points: Matt Kenseth (17), Aric Almirola (13), Bubba Wallace (11), Ty Dillon (9), Ryan Blaney (8), and Chase Briscoe (8).

Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Odds

Group

Kyle Larson

14.17

351.45

58.58

$11,700

30.04

1200

A

Denny Hamlin

8.17

295.00

49.17

$10,400

28.37

700

A

Joey Logano

12.33

294.75

49.13

$10,700

27.55

700

A

Martin Truex Jr.

8.00

328.35

54.73

$12,000

27.36

500

A

Ryan Blaney

12.50

259.50

43.25

$10,100

25.69

800

A

Brad Keselowski

12.50

243.35

40.56

$11,000

22.12

600

A

Chase Elliott

18.50

156.05

26.01

$11,400

13.69

600

A

William Byron

11.50

292.90

48.82

$8,700

33.67

2000

B

Alex Bowman

16.50

207.65

34.61

$9,200

22.57

2500

B

Kevin Harvick

17.00

192.50

32.08

$9,600

20.05

1400

B

Christopher Bell

20.50

152.35

25.39

$8,400

18.14

3000

B

Kurt Busch

17.83

154.75

25.79

$8,900

17.39

3000

B

Kyle Busch

19.17

166.15

27.69

$9,800

16.95

1200

B

Aric Almirola

25.67

90.00

15.00

$8,100

11.11

8000

B

Matt DiBenedetto

16.17

172.95

28.83

$7,800

22.17

6600

C

Tyler Reddick

19.50

163.15

27.19

$7,500

21.75

6600

C

Austin Dillon

20.33

130.75

21.79

$7,100

18.42

8000

C

Cole Custer

25.33

102.70

17.12

$7,000

14.67

10000

C

Bubba Wallace

22.83

104.15

17.36

$7,300

14.27

8000

C

Daniel Suarez

13.00

239.00

39.83

$5,900

40.51

10000

D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

14.67

214.45

35.74

$5,800

36.97

15000

D

Chris Buescher

12.00

234.75

39.13

$6,400

36.68

12500

D

Ryan Newman

14.67

211.95

35.33

$6,800

31.17

8000

D

Erik Jones

16.00

200.75

33.46

$6,600

30.42

10000

D

Ryan Preece

22.50

123.70

20.62

$5,600

22.09

20000

D

Chase Briscoe

20.50

128.90

21.48

$6,100

21.13

10000

D

Ross Chastain

23.00

82.80

13.80

$6,300

13.14

25000

D

Michael McDowell

18.67

156.50

26.08

$5,500

28.45

25000

E

Anthony Alfredo

26.17

78.25

13.04

$5,300

14.76

75000

E

Quin Houff

27.83

57.00

9.50

$4,500

12.67

150000

E

Justin Haley

26.20

68.05

13.61

$5,400

12.60

E

James Davison

25.75

63.00

15.75

$5,000

12.60

E

Cody Ware

31.17

45.00

7.50

$4,700

9.57

150000

E

Josh Bilicki

29.83

39.00

6.50

$4,600

8.48

150000

E

BJ McLeod

28.50

39.00

9.75

$4,900

7.96

E

Corey LaJoie

30.83

26.05

4.34

$5,200

5.01

75000

E

JJ Yeley

23.00

20.00

20.00

$4,800

4.17

E

DFS GEMS FOR THE FOOD CITY DIRT RACE
BLUE-EMU 500 DARK HORSES
POWER RANKINGS AFTER THE FOOD CITY DIRT RACE