The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum slate locks at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Martin Truex Jr ($9,500) — No one is better at the short, flat tracks than Martin Truex. Without a late race caution, he likely would have won the 2021 Cup Series Championship at the one-mile flat track in Phoenix.
2. Denny Hamlin ($9,800) — The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum racetrack resembles the short tracks Hamlin grew up on. During his Cup career, Hamlin has competed in exhibitions at comparable short tracks throughout Virginia. Statistically, he was the best short, flat track racer last season.
3. Joey Logano ($8,800) — Practice will answer a lot of questions. Drivers that have mastered the rhythm of throttling up and braking hard at NASCAR flat tracks will pick it up quickly. However what cannot be learned is being an aggressive jerk, and Logano has that down pat.
4. Alex Bowman ($7,400) — Last season, Bowman won at the short, flat tracks in Martinsville and Richmond. Hendrick builds great high horsepower, low downforce cars and this style of driving has clicked for Alex Bowman.
5. Kyle Larson ($10,000) — Short, flat tracks have never been one of his strengths but it’s relative. Other drivers had more experience at this type of track, but as Larson has gotten more reps in quality equipment, he’s become a threat to win at short, flat tracks.
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6. Chase Elliott ($9,200) — Martinsville figures to be a decent reference point. It’s not the best reference point, but until practice it’s all we have and Elliott won at Martinsville in the fall of 2020.
7. Kevin Harvick ($8,000) — The closest comparable track to the LA Coliseum track is the Madhouse at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As one can guess by the name, this is violent, old-school racing. Police frequently break up fights between drivers. An aggressive driver like Harvick has a clear advantage over most of the drivers in the field.
8. Kyle Busch ($9,000) — This is going to be an aggressive race. Smooth passes may happen, but the most common way around an opponent will be by using the bumper. This is a race that plays into Busch’s strengths. His unforgiving aggression will likely lead to a win or a DNF.
9. William Byron ($8,300) — He’s a quick study. Byron figured out Martinsville in record time. He nearly won at Martinsville in his second season (2019) and last season he earned two top-5 finishes at Martinsville. The Coliseum isn’t Martinsville, but the drivers will need to figure the track out quickly.
10. Ryan Blaney ($8,500) — If this race isn’t a mess (it will be), then Blaney has a real shot. He has grown to become one of the best drivers at Martinsville. Unfortunately, this track is Martinsville on steroids, and the win won’t likely be the result of clean, smooth racing.
11. Aric Almirola ($6,500) — The 2021 New Hampshire race was a mess and it’s not the best track for comparisons. However, Almirola did win that race and he was fast all race long.
12. A.J. Allmendinger ($6,900) — A popular meme going back to 2015 in the fantasy NASCAR rankings article is that road course drivers tend to fare well at short, flat tracks because the braking and throttle patterns are similar to road courses. Allmendinger has not been great at Martinsville, but he has been above average in below-average equipment.
13. Tyler Reddick ($6,700) — He was never considered a great short track racer, but he’s a great race car driver and they tend to figure things out. Last season, Reddick had a top-10 driver rating at the low downforce, high horsepower race tracks.
14. Ryan Preece ($5,200) — After five minutes of practice, Preece will be in play or completely off the board. With the wider tires NASCAR is running this season, it’s possible that drivers with modified racing backgrounds could be the quickest to adapt to the on-off throttle patterns.
15. Todd Gilliland ($4,700) — This seems crazy. How does Gilliland make the rankings while other more seasoned veterans do not? Gilliland has a win at Martinsville and COTA in the Truck Series. He’s also been strong at Gateway (flat track). His equipment isn’t great but it’s not terrible. He’s cheap and will likely start in the back. He could move forward if this race gets hairy.
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