NASCAR Betting Guide: Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500
The discussion around betting Martinsville is going to be similar to what we discussed entering Phoenix: you know who's going to compete this weekend.
Although Martinsville is a short track, it's still one where the studs tend to come through. A Cup Series champion has won five straight Martinsville races and 14 of the past 17. You don't get a lot of randos popping into victory lane.
This means that if you're going to bet a longshot, you need to make sure they have the upside to hang with the big dogs. There are some drivers in the field who fit that mold, but it's not a large number.
We'll get to some of those darkhorses in a second. But who stands out most at the top of the odds board? Let's check it out based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Joey Logano to Win (+700)
My model for this week sees a tier of six drivers who stand out from the pack. Those six are the guys with the shortest win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, so it does seem like things are in tight lock-step broadly.
The one disconnect is Joey Logano's standing within that tier. My model has him as the top driver in the race, but he's tied for the longest win odds of this group at +700. That's a window to buy.
Specifically, Logano has 17.5% win odds in my simulations versus his implied odds at 12.5%. That's a big gap, which could mean the simulations are way too high on Logano. However, the historic win rate of drivers in my model with his projected average running position is 22.2%, so it's possible that the betting markets are simply selling him short.
Logano won here in the 2018 fall race and led 234 laps in the spring last year. Logano has had a top-eight average running position in 11 of the past 14 Martinsville races, a string that stretches back to his age-24 season. Given how good Logano was on the tracks using the 750-horsepower package last year, there's enough here to justify backing Logano among the favorites.
William Byron to Win (+2200)
The other team that mopped up on the 750-horsepower tracks last year was Hendrick Motorsports. Chase Elliott's (+600) odds account for that. Kyle Larson (+1200) isn't super suited to dominate a one-groove track compared to what he can do elsewhere, which takes him off the table.
But we can find value in William Byron if you want exposure to the Hendrick stable.
Before accounting for variance, Byron ranks ninth straight up in my model. Everybody ahead of him has odds of +1400 or shorter, so there's a big gap between him and his peers.
But the model actually does view Byron as someone with increased variance (in a positive sense). He showed the ability to hit highs via his win in Homestead, but he also had top-seven average running positions in both Atlanta and Bristol.
It's true that those are very different tracks than Martinsville, but we've seen him contend here, as well. Byron finished second with a fifth-place average running position in the 2019 fall race. That was his age-21 season, and there have been signs that he's on the upswing now as a 23-year-old.
There is some value on Byron to finish on the podium (+700), as well. This is one of those spots where I'd recommend splitting your unit, putting half on the outright and half on the podium. This way you're safeguarded in case the trend of past champions holds while still getting exposure to Byron at these long odds.
Bubba Wallace to Win (+8000)
If you decide to bet Bubba Wallace, you should lower your bet size because of the things we discussed previously: longshots don't tend to win here. But if someone does do it, Wallace is the best bet.
The reasoning is that he has shown the ability to win here in the past. Wallace won at Martinsville in the Camping World Truck Series in his age-19 and age-20 seasons. That means it was more than a half decade ago, but it's a track that suits his style.
Wallace has had a top-12 average running position three times since the start of 2019. Two have come this year, so the equipment upgrade at 23XI Racing seems legit. The other was in Martinsville last year when he passed a race-high 59 cars and finished 11th.
My win simulations account for the top-heavy nature of this track. Yet they do still show some value in Wallace's outright (1.5% in the simulations versus 1.2% implied). So, there's low odds this one actually pans out. But if you are going to take the plunge on a longshot, this should be your guy.
Ryan Blaney to Win Group Two (+240)
This bet is less appealing if you decide to bet Logano to win. Logano is also in group two, so you can't simultaneously win both bets. But if you forgo Logano in the outright, this is the best market to bet Blaney.
At +240, you're getting Blaney at better odds than where he's at to finish on the podium (+225). That's despite lopping off Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Denny Hamlin. To me, this group sets up as a two-horse race.
Outside of Logano and Blaney, the other drivers in this group are Larson and Kyle Busch. While Logano and Blaney both rank inside the top four in my model, Larson is seventh, and Busch is 11th. That's a significant gap.
As a result of this gap, you could justify betting Logano at +200, which is equal to his podium odds. You could also decide to bet Blaney here even if you have Logano outrights as a small hedge; you just have to be okay with being guaranteed to lose a bet with +700 odds or shorter, which is a tough sell. Either way, this is a week to get betting exposure to Team Penske, and for Blaney, specifically, this is the best market for doing so.