Moving forward from the great race at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend there are now two drivers who have secured their spots in the Championship Four race at Phoenix International Speedway. Sheldon Creed the driver of the number two Chevrolet for GMS racing left Texas victorious after a commanding race that saw him lead 131 of 152 laps. Creed was awarded the pole and started first and for the most part never looked back. His win on Sunday was Creed’s fourth of the season and fourth of his career. Sunday’s race produced 10 cautions and had great action throughout each of the 152 laps. The most dramatic came in the final laps of the race where a battle for the lead between Stewart Friesen and Johnny Sauter came to a disastrous end, especially with both being winless this year. There are multiple drivers that improved their stock to enter the Championship Four, those include, Creed, Austin Hill, Zane Smith, and Brett Moffitt. Below the cutoff line are last year’s champion Matt Crafton (-12), Grant Enfinger (-42), Ben Rhodes (-45), and Tyler Ankrum (-79). Crafton still has a chance to make it to the next round on points if either Hill or Smith have a bad race. The remaining three drivers will only be able to advance if they can win at next week’s race at Martinsville Speedway for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200.
Today’s free pick is the driver of the ThorSport Racing number 13 Ford Johnny Sauter ($8,600 DK). Since the start of the 2017 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sauter has raced at Martinsville Speedway six times. In those six races he has one win in 2018, four top five finishes, five top 10 finishes, and has led a series most 244 laps. Sauter has raced well as a whole this year where he has three top five finishes, eight top 10 finishes and has led 40 laps. Sauter’s average finish at Martinsville Speedway is quite impressive at 6.17. Sauter will start this Saturday’s race in the 15thposition.
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Ben Rhodes: Currently sitting seventh and below the cutoff line for the Championship Four is the number 99 ThorSport Racing Ben Rhodes ($7,500 DK). Rhodes has raced at Martinsville six times since the start of 2017. His best finish coming early in 2019 where he started 16th and finished second. His recent career at Martinsville Speedway since 2017 has led to two top five finishes, three top ten finishes, and 134 laps led. In the 2020 season Rhodes has one win at Darlington Raceway, eight top five finishes, 12 top 10 finishes, and has led 101 laps. The good news about Rhodes is that he has led more laps at Martinsville Speedway in six races then he has in all 21 races he has been in this year. Look for Rhodes to have a great race at Martinsville as he tries to secure his spot in the Championship Four.
DFS Place Differential Options
Todd Gilliland: Last year’s champion at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series was the driver of the Front Row Motorsports number 38 Todd Gilliland ($8,900 DK). In his career Gilliland has raced at Martinsville Speedway five times. In his five races he has one win in 2019, two top five finishes, two top 10 finishes and has led 51 laps. His best finish being first and his worst being 15th. Gilliland has raced very well at Martinsville Speedway. In the 2020 season Gilliland has four top five finishes, nine top 10 finishes, and has led 94 laps. Gilliland’s average start at Martinsville is 10.2 and his average finish is 9.4. Gilliland will start the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 in the 20th position. There is excellent place differential potential this weekend if you choose Todd Gilliland for your lineup.
Stewart Friesen: Coming into Martinsville race weekend the driver of the number 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota Stewart Friesen ($8,400 DK) will potentially have an advantage over most drivers. His advantage is that only six of 37 drivers in this race have raced at Martinsville as much as he has: six times since 2017. Since the start of the 2017 season Friesen has one top five finish, three top 10 finishes, and has led 24 laps. Friesen was right in the thick of it vying for the win last weekend and I think he will be in the running again this weekend. Starting 18th gives Friesen good place differential potential.
DFS Picks to Avoid
Austin Hill: Currently sitting third in the playoff standings heading into the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway Austin Hill ($11,000 DK) will have to be careful that he does not let his lead in the standings slip. Hill has been really good this year. He has two wins and 11 top five finishes. Martinsville however has not been the kindest of race tracks for Hill in his career. In six races since the start of the 2017 racing season Hill has an average start of 16.83 and an average finish of 15.5. his best finish at Martinsville was a ninth-place finish in the spring race at Martinsville in 2018. Martinsville is its own unique race course but if you want to compare it to another track, compare it to another short track in Bristol where Hill in four races since the start of the 2017 season has had his best finish be 10th. Short tracks do not seem to be Austin Hill’s thing and I will be keeping him out of my lineup this week.
MY TOP-FIVE OVERALL AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
- Sheldon Creed
- Chase Briscoe
- Brett Moffit
- Ben Rhodes
- Matt Crafton
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