Well, after Martinsville, we finally have the season’s first repeat winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. has won three of the last four Martinsville Cup races after formerly being 0-27 at the Paperclip. pic.twitter.com/r2MFFqwgxh
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 12, 2021
The NASCAR Cup Series will stick around the state of Virginia for another weekend, as this weekend’s action comes at Richmond Raceway.
Isaiah’s Best Bets: Richmond Spring
#1. Head-to-Head: Martin Truex Jr. (-110 at DK Sportsbook) vs. Denny Hamlin
Let’s start with a head-scratcher. Truex and Hamlin are both at -110 for this matchup on DraftKings, but Truex (-125) is heavily favored over Hamlin (+105) at FOX Bet. The statistics suggest that FOX Bet has the better-set line for this prop, and here’s why.
First, Truex has been much better at Richmond than Hamlin — at least recently. In the last five races, Truex’s average finish (4.2) is significantly better than Hamlin’s (7.8). The same goes for his average driver rating (125.9) compared to Hamlin’s (95.1). Hamlin topped Truex in just one of those events.
Second, Truex has also been the best driver on short tracks this season. He won at Phoenix and Martinsville, the only two true short-track events held so far (Bristol Dirt is in a league of its own). Hamlin finished third in both events.
Third, the full-race betting odds point to value on Truex. Though DraftKings has Truex and Hamlin as co-favorites, Truex is the clear favorite at FOX Bet and BetMGM.
The argument against this play is that Hamlin has been more consistent. His average finish this year (4.5) is NASCAR’s best, as is his driver rating (117.6). However, I’m willing to overlook that because full-season numbers aren’t contextual, and Truex has been the better driver on short tracks thus far. Also, his full-season average finish (9.5) and driver rating (107.1) trail only Hamlin.
#2. Head-to-Head: Joey Logano (+110 at FOX Bet) vs. Chase Elliott
Let’s move into an intriguing plus-money prop. Unlike the first prop, the more consistent driver, Logano, is actually the underdog. Yet somehow, Elliott is the favorite at both DraftKings Sportsbook (-130) and FOX Bet (-133).
Logano has the second-best average finish this season (9.0) and the fourth-best average driver rating (104.5). In contrast, Elliott ranks eighth in average finish (13.1) and sixth in driver rating (95.8). Though we can chalk some of that discrepancy up to Elliott’s blown engine at Atlanta, if we take that race out, he’d rank slightly above Logano in average finish (8.4) but still well below him in driver rating (98.9).
These drivers have split their short-track events thus far. Logano had the advantage at Phoenix, but Elliott edged him out at Martinsville.
Recent races at Richmond also point to value on Logano. The Team Penske driver has topped Elliott in the last three races here. And over the last five events, Logano’s average finish (6.8) and average driver rating (106.6) outpace Elliott’s marks (7.8 and 95.4).
I’m not alone in liking Logano this weekend. Awesemo’s Phillip Bennetzen (AKA @RaceSheetsDFS) likes him to finish as the field’s best Ford. That may come to pass, but Logano should at least top Elliott if it doesn’t.
#3. Top Chevrolet: Kyle Larson (+200 at DK Sportsbook)
I hate to pile on NASCAR’s favorite driver, but Kyle Larson should finish as the class of the Chevrolets this weekend. He has looked great for Hendrick Motorsports thus far, and he has a real shot at getting another win at Richmond this weekend.
Larson did quite well here for his equipment when he was still at Ganassi. He earned one win, two top fives, and five top tens across 12 total starts. His average finish (11.7) reflects an impressive degree of consistency, and it jumps to 9.4 if you exclude his DNF from 2019’s spring event.
Out of this year’s eight races, Larson has finished as the top Chevrolet just twice (Las Vegas and Atlanta). His main competition has come from Chase Elliott (Daytona, Phoenix, and Martinsville) and William Byron (Homestead). Fortunately for Larson, this is an awful track for Byron — the talented youngster is yet to post a top ten result here. Likewise, as I outlined above, Elliott hasn’t flashed much at Richmond.
Top Bets to Win: Richmond Spring
Favorite: Martin Truex Jr. (+500 at DK Sportsbook)
Truex has won both of the short-track races thus far, so it makes sense to take him at a line like this. The other books have Truex with significantly shorter odds, too. As I wrote above, the numbers point to another strong race for Truex, and he is a fantastic pick to win straight-up.
Value Bet: Kyle Larson (+750 at FOX Bet)
Larson has won at Richmond before, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him grab another one this Sunday. His average finish (11.7) and average driver rating may not be as high as you’d like, but remember, he did that when racing for Ganassi. He won’t have to outperform his equipment this time, and you can find the best odds on him to win at FOX Bet or BetMGM,
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