Xfinity 500 DFS Gems

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A lot is on the line at Martinsville Speedway this weekend and that will change the way many drivers race.

Kyle Larson is safely through to the Championship 4, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott have about as comfortable a position in the points as one could realistically hope for, while Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. need to avoid trouble and stay ahead of the others.

Joey Logano is in a must-win situation, but if any of the bottom five drivers in the standings wins – and Hamlin and Elliott avoid trouble – then their points relative to one another are no longer a consideration. The bottom line is: With the exception of Larson, Elliott, and Hamlin, the Round of 8 contenders will do whatever they need in order to be in a position to win.

The remaining 30 drivers in this week’s field want to win as well, especially the former playoff contenders. Kevin Harvick has two weeks to keep from seeing a goose egg in the 2021 wins column, Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman and William Byron know this is a good track for the organization and also want to capitalize.

The field is wide open for the Xfinity 500 and it is likely that the top-10 earners this week will be spread throughout the field

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

Martin Truex Jr. ($11,400)
Truex must feel that he’s been in a must-win situation for the majority of the playoffs. He got a strong start to the Round of 16 and carried that momentum with him to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but since then he’s earned only one top-10 in four races – and his Kansas Speedway seventh-place finish was not without its own drama. He has a distinct advantage over the field, however. His was the winning setup this spring at both Martinsville and Phoenix Raceway. Like Elliott last year, he could sweep the last two races and win the championship.

Denny Hamlin ($10,700)
Hamlin is in a relatively pronounced sweet spot. His cap this week is not as expensive as it might otherwise be for a driver who is known to dominate on short, flat tracks. He is relatively safe in the standings, but cannot afford to make mistakes that will cost him stage and race points. If he earns enough points in the first half of the race, he can go for broke in Stage 3. Hamlin has not won on this track type in 2021, but he came close with second-place finishes in both Richmond Raceway events and he loves to race in front of the home state crowd.

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,000)

Ryan Blaney ($9,700)
Martinsville is one of those tracks where a switch seems to suddenly flip and drivers results dramatically improve. In his first three seasons there, Blaney scored only one top-15 finish. In 2018, he jumped into the top five with a third-place finish in the spring and then struggled in the fall. He swept the top five in 2019 and last year, Blaney was second in both races. That made him a favorable pick this spring, but he fell outside the top 10 once more with an 11th. With his playoff hopes on the line, we expect him to be back inside the top five.

Brad Keselowski ($9,300)
Keselowski also saw a long streak disappear this spring. He entered the Blue-Emu 500 five consecutive top-fives and nine such finishes in his last 10 attempts. Two of these were victories. Keselowski has been one of the most improbable contenders for advancement in the first two rounds with only eight playoff bonus points, but somehow he keeps managing. The No. 2 team has been one of the strongest in the past two weeks and a consistent run this week will earn major points.

Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,500)

Austin Dillon ($6,700)
Dillon would probably like to erase last week from fans’ memory banks. He lost grip underneath Blaney and radically altered the complexion of the playoffs when he sent the No. 12 into the wall. That incident overshadowed a top-10 run for the No. 3. It was the eighth consecutive race in which he’s finished in the top 15 and tied his best performance during the playoffs. A top-10 is hard to predict at Martinsville, but it seems almost certain that Dillon will continue to challenge for a result in the low-teens. His worse result on short, flat tracks this year is 17th and he has an average finish of 13.8.

Matt DiBenedetto ($7,700)
DiBenedetto is in the same range as Dillon on short, flat tracks this year. His worst result was an 18th in the second Richmond Raceway event, but his other efforts were better overall to give him an average finish of 12.8. Last year, he was even better on minimally-banked courses, 1-mile or less in length with four top-10s and an average of 10.2. Combine the two seasons and his average is 11.4 and that is enough to make him a good value in the Xfinity 500.

Group D: (Less than or equal to $6,500)

Chase Briscoe ($6,400)
There are not a lot of good options at this level, so you may as well bet on a driver that is at least heading in the right direction. Briscoe’s first short track race this spring ended in a 20th-place finish on the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track. His next effort netted a 27th at Martinsville, followed by a 22nd in Richmond 1. Since then, he’s been hovering around the 15th-place mark with a 16th in Richmond 2 and a 13th on the paved version of Bristol.

Michael McDowell ($5,700)
McDowell has not burned up the pavement on short, flat tracks this year, but he has been consistent. In five races on minimally-banked courses, 1-mile or less in length, he finished between 23rd and 28th four times. One reason to be hopeful that he will turn the weekend around is his strength on this course type last year when he had three top-20s and an average result of 20.8. Flat tracks have a little similarity to road courses in that drivers have to brake before the apex of the turns and that should play into McDowell’s favor.

The top-10 points’ earners from the 2021 Blue-Emu 500 were: Denny Hamlin (145.45), Ryan Blaney (77.3), Martin Truex, Jr. (74.45), Kyle Larson (62.45), Christopher Bell (61.55), Chase Elliott (53.55), William Byron (51.15), Tyler Reddick (45.05), Bubba Wallace (42.65), and Matt DiBenedetto (41).

Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group A

Kyle Larson

7.83

491.30

81.88

$11,800

41.64

Denny Hamlin

10.17

312.10

52.02

$10,700

29.17

Chase Elliott

12.17

259.80

43.30

$10,100

25.72

William Byron

12.33

273.45

45.58

$11,000

24.86

Kyle Busch

20.33

154.70

25.78

$10,400

14.88

Martin Truex Jr.

19.50

143.60

23.93

$11,400

12.60

Group B

Kevin Harvick

12.33

265.00

44.17

$9,000

29.44

Ryan Blaney

11.50

240.90

40.15

$9,700

24.84

Tyler Reddick

15.33

199.95

33.33

$8,200

24.38

Brad Keselowski

13.50

220.35

36.73

$9,300

23.69

Christopher Bell

16.83

179.75

29.96

$8,400

21.40

Joey Logano

18.00

168.15

28.03

$9,500

17.70

Aric Almirola

25.17

107.70

17.95

$8,000

13.46

Alex Bowman

22.00

108.05

18.01

$8,700

12.42

Group C

Austin Dillon

14.83

203.05

33.84

$6,700

30.31

Daniel Suarez

16.00

187.35

31.23

$6,500

28.82

Kurt Busch

14.00

217.25

36.21

$7,900

27.50

Bubba Wallace

15.17

204.95

34.16

$7,600

26.97

Erik Jones

18.17

185.35

30.89

$6,900

26.86

Cole Custer

20.00

157.90

26.32

$6,600

23.92

Matt DiBenedetto

18.00

171.00

28.50

$7,700

22.21

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

21.17

135.10

22.52

$7,200

18.76

Ross Chastain

22.33

123.50

20.58

$7,400

16.69

Ryan Newman

27.67

56.25

9.38

$7,100

7.92

Group D

Chris Buescher

15.33

204.95

34.16

$5,900

34.74

Chase Briscoe

16.33

188.25

31.38

$6,400

29.41

Michael McDowell

20.83

153.40

25.57

$5,700

26.91

Ryan Preece

22.67

114.95

19.16

$6,200

18.54

Quin Houff

27.67

81.90

13.65

$4,700

17.43

Corey LaJoie

24.83

103.70

17.28

$6,000

17.28

Anthony Alfredo

25.50

92.60

15.43

$5,400

17.15

Josh Bilicki

29.67

76.00

12.67

$4,600

16.52

Garrett Smithley

27.00

77.00

15.40

$5,200

14.81

BJ McLeod

27.40

63.90

12.78

$4,500

14.20

Joey Gase

28.25

48.45

12.11

$4,900

9.89

Cody Ware

29.00

47.45

9.49

$4,800

9.89

Justin Haley

29.67

51.80

8.63

$5,500

9.42

Timmy Hill

23.00

43.00

21.50

$5,100

8.43

DFS Gems for the Blue-Emu 500 (Martinsville 1)
Federated Auto Parts 400 (Richmond 2)
Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Bristol paved)