After a week off, the NASCAR Cup Series will head to Martinsville Speedway for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500. While Martinsville always promises exciting short-track action, rain is in the forecast, so don’t expect action to get underway as scheduled. The sport may have to run this race on Sunday afternoon, not Saturday night.
Here are my top betting picks for the weekend. Since Saturday’s rain should get underway well before the green flag, I doubt that we’ll see a shortened race, and all of my picks assume a full-length event.
Isaiah’s Best Bets: Martinsville Spring
#1. Top 5: Joey Logano (-115 at DK Sportsbook)
Team Penske dominated with the 750-horsepower package last season, and that’s the package we’ll see in use this weekend. In the two Martinsville races last year, Penske’s three drivers — Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney — combined for six top fives (a perfect record) and 331 laps led (33.1%).
Their success in the 750-horsepower package has already extended into this season. Both Logano and Keselowski recorded top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway back in March.
Unsurprisingly, Team Penske’s drivers are all favored to post top-five finishes. While Brad Keselowski (-130) doesn’t offer as much value as Logano, Ryan Blaney (-115) does. But even though he finished no worse than second here last year, I favor Logano for my top bet of the week.
Logano has the second-highest average driver rating at Martinsville over the last six events. He trails only Martin Truex Jr., who won the first Martinsville race but finished 22nd in the second (after leading the second-most laps). His two Team Penske teammates rank third and fourth.
#2. Winning Manufacturer: Ford (+135 at DK Sportsbook)
This line will get you exposure to three of the top-six favorites (the three aforementioned Team Penske drivers) — along with Kevin Harvick (+1500) and Matt DiBenedetto (+6400). That makes this line more valuable than just the Team Penske prop, which has odds of +140.
Though Ford failed to win either of the events at this track last season, they had three cars in a position to do so. That said, I won’t rehash Team Penske’s dominance at Martinsville to explain this pick. Instead, let’s also consider how Ford did at New Hampshire, which is essentially a larger Martinsville and also uses the 750-horsepower package: Brad Keselowski brought home the checkered flag in the sole event at that track, and Joey Logano finished fourth. Keselowski led 61.1% of the laps in the event.
Ford currently leads all manufacturers in wins (3), as Michael McDowell, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney have all already found victory lane. I expect them to extend that lead this weekend.
#3. Head-to-Head: Kurt Busch (+140 at FOX Bet) vs. Kevin Harvick
If this were last season, you could (rightly) have called me crazy for recommending this bet. But it’s 2021, and Kevin Harvick’s average finish (9.4) isn’t nearly as dominant as it was last year. While it’s well ahead of Kurt Busch’s (17.8), the track-specific points to value.
Kurt Busch finished fifth and ninth here last year. He led laps in the fall race and recorded an elite average driver rating (103.6). In contrast, Kevin Harvick finished 15th and 17th. He failed to lead a lap, and his driver rating (89.1) was quite pedestrian. Over the last six Martinsville races, Kurt Busch has a higher average finish (8.17 to 10) and a better average driver rating (95.4 to 94.5).
But the juice sits heavily on Harvick — that gives us a ton of value on Kurt Busch in this head-to-head.
Top Bets to Win: Martinsville Spring
Favorite: Martin Truex Jr (+475 at FOX Bet)
If you’re hoping to take MTJ, you’re best off at FOX Bet, as the sportsbook has him at much better odds than the +400 you’ll find elsewhere. At BetMGM, the defending winner of last year’s spring race opened at +550, but his odds have since shortened due to market action. He owns 10.1% of the book’s handle, behind only Denny Hamlin (59.1%), which may explain why BetMGM is so bullish on him.
Truex deserves to be the favorite. He is the only driver with multiple wins at this track over the last six events, and he ranks tied for second among all active drivers for the most wins here; Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski all have two wins here as well. They trail Denny Hamlin, who boasts five Martinsville wins — although his last win came in 2015.
Value Bet: Joey Logano (+800 at BetMGM) OR Ryan Blaney (+800 at FOX Bet)
I’m grouping these two together because the named books give them the same odds to win. It’s a tossup as to which Team Penske driver will get the best car of the bunch this weekend, but the two drivers competed for wins in the last two events here, so they offer decent value at a line this long.
Logano also boasts the third-best average driver rating this year (106); he trails only Denny Hamlin (114.5) and Kyle Larson (106.1). Interestingly, the bettors at BetMGM agree, as Logano has the third-largest handle (4.8%) at the book.
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