Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 Betting Preview
Battle Between Youth, Experience Ongoing
The NASCAR Cup Series continues with the 2022 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400, slated for Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, and it promises to produce another exciting evening of racing.
And while the hottest topic of discussion ahead of the race is who will win, there is another exciting story we should follow.
Hamlin Halts Streak
Last weekend, 41-year-old Denny Hamlin delivered on his home track at Richmond Raceway for the first time since 2016. It marked Hamlin’s first victory of the 2022 season, and ended a streak of 12 consecutive Cup Series races won by drivers younger than 30.
Hamlin passed Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron with only five laps remaining and won the race by just 0.552 seconds, just ahead of Kevin Harvick. It was an exciting ending to the race in which tire strategy prevailed but, most importantly, Hamlin’s victory marked the first by a 40-year-old to win a race since the 2021 South Point 400 in September 2021, which was won by no other than Hamlin himself.
The 2021 South Point 400 was the last NASCAR Cup Series race that was not won by a driver in his 20s. After that race, we saw Bubba Wallace (27) win at Talladega Superspeedway and Kyle Larson (29) win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. Alex Bowman (28) won at Martinsville Speedway before the eventual Cup Series champion, Larson, won at Phoenix Raceway.
The start of the 2022 season did not look much different in that regard. The 23-year-old Austin Cindric won the unpredictable Daytona 500 before Larson won at Auto Club Speedway and Bowman secured the W in Las Vegas.
Chase Briscoe (27) came out of nowhere to shake up the field and scored his first career victory at Phoenix Raceway. And lastly, Ross Chastain (29) responded with a win of his own at COTA before Hamlin rose up to the occasion to claim the Richmond race.
How About the 30-Something Crowd?
Hamlin’s victory in Richmond ended a 12-race streak of races won by drivers in his 20s, but while one streak was broken, one still remains intact. We still haven’t seen a driver in his 30s win a race since A.J. Allmendinger won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August 2021 at 29 years- of age.
Some may argue that Allmendinger’s victory doesn’t count since he wasn’t a full-time Cup Series driver at the time. If we go by that criteria, the last (full-time) Cup Series driver in his 30s that won the race was Aric Almirola in July 2021 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
That translates to 21 consecutive races that have not been won by a driver who is in his 30s. Now, the question is whether that streak will end with the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400? The best and easiest way to try and answer that is by checking the latest NASCAR race odds for Blue Emu 400 show.
According to the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 odds, the main three favorites to come out on top are Martin Truex Jr. (41), Ryan Blaney (28) and Chase Elliott (26), neither of whom is in their 30s.
The closest driver to the top of the outright betting market that fits the criteria is Kyle Busch (36), priced as the fifth favorite at +900. Behind him is Joey Logano (31), who is priced as high as +1000.
Can The Streak End?
Seeing younger drivers dominate the NASCAR Cup Series is definitely exciting, and it does indicate that the quality of races will only get better. It’s also not too shocking to see a few of the “old-timers” claim a win here and there, just to show the youngsters that they still “got it” and that experience matters.
But it’s interesting to see how drivers in their 30s have not been nearly as impressive as the other two age groups. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you what that means, and it can just be a coincidence that the current top drivers of the Cup Series are either young or over 40.
Still, we have to remember how many great drivers are in their 30s and how many are just months away from becoming tricenarian. Most notably, Kyle Larson will celebrate his 30th birthday on July 31, with Ross Chastain set to enter his 30s on Dec. 4.
Moreover, a handful of drivers are already in their 30s. That includes Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Corey Lajoie, Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. They have three top-fives and nine top-10s between them.
Those are not the most impressive figures and definitely do not suggest that either of them will come out and dominate the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400. But, as history has taught us, any streak ends, and it’s only a matter of time before this 21-race drought does as well.