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Race Preview: NASCAR DFS Blue Emu 500 at Martinsville for DraftKings + FanDuel

Phillip Bennetzen



Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500

Following the Easter break, NASCAR returns to racing this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. This week, we’re back on the racing scene with the Blue Emu 500. With the help of Awesemo’s expert data and driver projections, let’s jump into this week’s NASCAR DFS preview for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.

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Bristol Takeaways

This may be the shortest wrap-up of a week’s previous race I do all season, so buckle up.

We learned absolutely nothing from the Bristol Dirt Race. None of the numbers from that event can be applied to this season. The only relative thing to do with that race data is come back to it next season when NASCAR plans on trying to do this again. However, as far as 2021 is concerned, act like that race never existed.

There are no driver finishes from Bristol the Race Sheets. That race is so far disconnected from everything else in NASCAR, Bristol doesn’t even deserve mentioning. Was Bristol an interesting race to watch? Sure Does it mean anything for NASCAR DFS process for the rest of the 2021 season? Not one iota.

Martinsville Under the Lights

Now back to some good, old-fashioned racing on pavement. This weekend sees NASCAR return back to one of its more historic tracks, Martinsville Speedway located in Ridgeway, Va. Martinsville opened for racing way back in 1947 — definitely around the zenith of moonshiners turning their government-evading hot rods into racing machines.

Martinsville Speedway has a few peculiarities, including both concrete and asphalt pavement as well as minimal banking in the corners. However, the defining feature everyone will point out is Martinsville’s shape. Over the weekend radio and television personalities at MRN and FOX Sports will constantly refer to Martinsville Speedway as “The Paperclip.” It’s not without good reason; Martinsville’s track layout looks exactly like a paperclip. Long straightaways combined with tight, matching corners give this track its iconic shape.

Combining this shape with its half-mile length and minimal banking creates  a very unique track. The venue leads to precise throttle acceleration combined with late-braking that will make or break a diver’s day. If a driver is early to the brake and late to the gas, it’s far too easy to fall through the field and get lapped within just the first 30 to 40 laps. Once cars start getting lapped it becomes nearly impossible for them to get back on the lead lap without multiple cautions and wave-arounds. On the flip side, when a driver gets out front they can squat on the lead for large swaths of the race.

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DFS Trends for Martinsville Speedway

That last point is worth hovering over for a bit. This iteration of the 750-horsepower package has made it all too easy for the leader to sit on the lead and vacuum dominator points. In fact, if this package is racing like the version of the short-track package from 2019, it is cause for alarm. In both of those 2019 Martinsville races the top lap leaders led over 450 laps in their respective races. With neither Brad Keselowski in the spring nor Martin Truex Jr. in the fall starting on the pole, both went on to dominate their fields.

However, NASCAR did make important changes in 2020 to attempt to keep that from happening again. With declining viewership, the last thing NASCAR wants is a boring race where one driver whoops the field and FOX has to pan to Cole Custer and Ross Chastain fighting to be the last car on the lead lap.

Neither of last year’s Martinsville events saw the lap leader lead nearly as many laps. Yet Joey Logano in June and Chase Elliott in November both led nearly half of the event. So it is not technically domination, but leading half of a 500-lap event is still pretty good. To be frank, though, ever since 2013, Martinsville’s top lap leader has averaged 264 laps led, so leading this many laps is nothing new. Throw in Saturday’s event running primarily in the cool of the evening, with possible cloud cover. Then grip becomes even more of a factor, making it even tougher to pass whoever is out front.

Optimal Lineup Build

With 500 laps on tap for Saturday night’s Blue Emu 500, this will be one of the larger nights as far as DFS scoring goes. Both sites will see optimal lineups north of 400 fantasy points. On DraftKings scores will be up due to the influx of fastest lap and laps-led points. On FanDuel lap leaders will get a slight boost with a maximum of 50 laps led points available. However, on FanDuel every driver will see boosts thanks to the laps-run points boost. For example, without taking too much of a mental hike, assume every driver in FanDuel’s optimal will finish on the lead lap. That right there is a baseline of 250 points without even figuring place differential or finishing position points.

With the trends highlighted above, plus optimal lineups from last year’s two Martinsville races, at a minimum two dominators will be a must. The two-dominator build was optimal on FanDuel for both races and came through in the fall race on DraftKings. However, with Truex falling back late in the race after leading 129 laps, there’s a near certainty that this race’s optimal would have gone with three dominators. If he doesn’t drop like an anchor, then this optimal would look similar to the June-Martinsville race where three dominators were optimal.

Without knowing salaries, it is not really possible to draw a dividing line between two or three for cash purposes on DraftKings. Chances are DraftKings will inflate salaries of everyone with place differential upside (Aric Almirola – 31st) and force a debate of paying for safety versus upside with dominator points. However, for FanDuel the trend is clear to go with two lap leaders in cash and probably the same in tournaments. Remember, there are only 50 laps-led points on FanDuel, and in Martinsville races where a third driver is considered a dominator, they’re only scoring an extra 8.98 laps-led points on average.

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Phill Bennetzen is a father, husband, and Catholic as well as a self-professed annoying fitness guy. Phill heads up NASCAR content at You can contact Phill by emailing