It’s a bit of a different race weekend for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the Martinsville Speedway. Instead of three practice sessions, one of which being before qualifying on Friday, it’s an impound weekend with two practices early on in the day on Saturday and qualifying to close to day.
After both practice sessions, we’re left scratching our heads still.
The first practice was dominated by Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. They had 10 of the top 12 speeds including the top six overall. It shouldn’t be too surprising either as these are the top three teams in NASCAR this season.
JGR and Penske have combined to win all five races in 2019 to go along with the final two of 2018. That’s seven straight and eight of the last nine overall.
But, in final practice, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet topped the speed charts. HMS went 1-2-3 with Chevy taking six of the top seven spots. Richard Childress Racing or their affiliate at Germain took the other three spots.
So, whom do we bet on Sunday then?
Let me help.
Martinsville, is known to produce long green flag runs. So, single lap speed is kind of irrelevant. Look more for the 10 lap average chart as your best guide. The top speeds in final practice were by those Chevy teams on single laps runs. They didn’t fare well on the 10 lap average chart though.
Favorites (Need To Be Creative Here)
Kyle Busch (+200)
Not good odds in terms of betting, but you can’t overlook him. He’s the outright favorite. He hasn’t finished worse than sixth all year and enters on the heels of two consecutive victories overall on the season. Busch, also has seven straight top five finishes in Martinsville including three top two finishes in his last four tries. He was first and third respectively on the 10 lap averages chart in the two practice sessions on Saturday too.
Brad Keselowski (+500)
You can’t overlook him either. Keselowski, has three top three finishes in his last four starts on the season and six straight top 10 finishes in Martinsville. He was 11th and 10th respectively on the 10 lap averages chart and starts his No. 2 Ford third.
Martin Truex Jr. (+600)
This is likely the wisest bet. Yes, Truex has never won a short track race, but he was passed for the win in three of his last eight starts on them overall. Truex, has alternated second and eighth place finishes in each of the last four weeks to go along with three straight top four finishes in Martinsville. On the 10 lap average chart, he was third and first respectively. He starts ninth in his No. 19 Toyota.
Joey Logano (+700)
He will start on the pole after being 14th and eighth respectively on 10 lap averages. Logano, won last fall in Martinsville and has four top 10 finishes in his last five tries. He starts on the pole on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin (+1000)
Why not have all three JGR cars on here? Hamlin, is a former Martinsville winner himself to go along with a runner-up last fall. He also has finished in the top 11 in all five starts this season including two straight top seven results. Hamlin, was sixth in both sessions on the 10 lap average chart and qualified fifth.
Sleepers (Best Bets)
Clint Bowyer (+1100)
He won this race last year and has three top seven finishes in his last four Martinsville starts overall. Bowyer, was quickest on single lap runs in the first practice to go along with being fifth and second respectively on the 10 lap averages chart. The defending winner will roll off 11th in his No. 14 Ford.
Ryan Blaney (+2200)
Penske and JGR have combined to win all five races this season. I have Truex on this list, why not Blaney? Both haven’t won yet but have been close. Blaney, has two straight top five finishes on the season and led 145 laps in a third place run in this very race last year. Blaney, also has two top eight finishes in his last three Martinsville starts overall. He was fourth and ninth respectively on the 10 lap averages.
Chase Elliott (+2200)
He likely should have won the playoff race at Martinsville in 2017. Elliott, does have three top 10 finishes in his last four Martinsville starts and was in the top 10 in both practice sessions on Saturday including being quickest in final practice. He starts eighth.
Jimmie Johnson (+2500)
Why not take another risk here? Johnson, has won nine times in Martinsville overall and is arguably one of the best to ever race on this track. He was P3 in final practice and has a good race car.
Aric Almirola (+2500)
He’s never finished in the top five at Martinsville and his last top 10 came all the way back in 2014, but Almirola has been quick this weekend. He was second and fifth respectively on the 10 lap averages and enters Sunday on the heels of four straight top 10 finishes. He earned a front row starting spot (2nd) too.