I am pumped up for Martinsville this weekend and all of the excitement the Virginia short-track has in store. The “paperclip” as it’s known to many who follow the sport produces some exciting finishes and still has that old-school racing type feel every time the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads to the 0.526 mile oval track. Last year Clint Bowyer won in the Spring race leading a race-high 215 laps. Then of course last fall there was the infamous Joey Logano bump-and-run that gave him the checkered flag over Martin Truex Jr. and propelled him to Miami where he went on to win the championship.
Denny Hamlin driving Chase Elliott too hard a couple years back costing him his first career win at that time, the list goes on and on of controversial and great finishes at the Virginia short-track. It’s one of my favorite on the circuit and the results and finishes at the track speak for themselves. Kyle Busch, going for his third straight win, has a 2.25 average finish in the last four races at Martinsville with a win and four top 5’s to show for it.
Jimmie Johnson, like at Auto Club, leads all active drivers in wins with 9 at Martinsville while Virginia native Denny Hamlin has 5 of his own.
Kyle Busch is red hot. He picked up career win No. 200 last week at Auto Club Speedway, already won in the trucks race and has been great at Martinsville as well with four straight top 5’s. He’s starting 14th after just missing in round two of qualifying, so he’s a solid fantasy pick as well.
Joey Logano won the pole just edging out Almirola and teammate Brad Keselowski. SHR had three cars in the top five of 10-lap average of final practice while Martin Truex Jr. was the leader in that category. All of the names mentioned above could conceivably contend for the race win on Sunday, add in Denny Hamlin who starts 5th along with 9-time winner Jimmie Johnson.
All odds courtesy of Bovada
-Kyle Busch +220
-Brad Keselowski +500
-Martin Truex Jr. +600
-Joey Logano +750
-Clint Bowyer +1100
-Denny Hamlin +1000
-Kevin Harvick +1600
Other odds: Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney +2200, Aric Almirola +2500, Kurt Busch +2500, Jimmie Johnson +2500, Kyle Larson +4000, Erik Jones +6000, Daniel Suarez +8500, Ryan Newman +8500, Austin Dillon +10000, Ricky Stenhouse +20000
Keeping this short this week. Pick the obvious favorites as you like as you really can only afford one of Busch, Logano or Keselowski to build a solid lineup.
Denny Hamlin ($9,400): Hamlin is must have to me at any short-track, especially in his home state. Car is handling well, I expect a top 5 from him on Sunday at the very least.
Aric Almirola ($8,700): Almirola has been fast and comes in at a lesser price than teammate Kevin Harvick. He’s starting 3rd and I can see him contending for the win.
Austin Dillon ($7,300): Starting 30th after having his round one best time disallowed, Dillon is a good pick here as well. Top 5 in speed at final practice. He’ll get you some points.
Ricky Stenhouse ($7,200): Starts 25th after his qualifying time was disallowed in round 1 of qualifying, but car has looked way faster than that and Ricky is a pretty good short-track racer.
Daniel Hemric ($6,600): Starts 29th after just missing the balance, but like his teammate Austin Dillon at RCR has shown the speed and should improve for a Top 20 finish.
Winner- Denny Hamlin
Joe Gibbs Racing has been on fire to start the season and I expect that to continue on Sunday. Hamlin is one of the best at this track, has a fast and good handling race car and I like him to win his second of the season and 6th at the track on Sunday. Lock it in.