With the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs coming to a close, things are going to get interesting at Martinsville Sunday. Racing on tracks with tight confines such as Martinsville and Bristol opens the door for even more contact than usual. Drivers can’t leave anything on the line, as the field will be cut from eight to four following the Xfinity 500 race odds.
Date & Time & Streaming:
Speedway: Martinsville Speedway
When it comes to short-track racing, Martinsville is likely the first track that comes to mind. It’s the shortest track on the entire NASCAR schedule 2022 at just 0.526 miles long. Drivers will race 263 total miles over 500 laps. The first two stages will be 130 laps each with the final stage at 240.
Current Playoff Standings
Joey Logano remains atop the NASCAR Cup standings. Because of his win in Las Vegas, he was already guaranteed a spot in the finals. Even without the win, he would still be atop the standings based on points, however narrowly.
Ross Chastain is second in the standings and trails Logano by just five points. He has an eight-point lead over Chase Elliott in third, but a 19-point lead over the first driver on the outside looking in on the bubble.
Fourth is William Byron. Byron is closest to the bubble, leading the fifth-place Hamlin by just five points. An early end to your day can be a death sentence for Sunday’s race, but for many of these drivers, it could be win or go home.
That stands true with Ryan Blaney. Blaney was arguably one of the most consistent drivers in the sport this season. The problem was that the only race he won was the All-Star Race, an exhibition that didn’t count toward the standings. He sits 18 points behind Byron for the last spot. Christopher Bell sits 33 points out of the final spot while Chase Briscoe is 44 points out.
Who are the favorites?
Here, we dive into the Xfinity 500 race odds. Elliott comes in with the shortest odds at +650. He won at Martinsville back in 2020 and came in second in his next Martinsville start. His next two starts had rather disappointing endings considering how well he’d raced that day. In each of his last two starts, he won both Stage 1 and Stage 2 with 474 laps led. This could be Elliott’s best chance to put himself in a position for a title.
Hamlin is second on the Xfinity 500 race odds board at +750. He used to dominate at Martinsville. He has five career wins at Martinsville, however, four of those came in 2010 or before. His most recent win came in 2015. He finished 28th here earlier this season.
The reason for the low odds is likely due to Hamlin’s overall short-track resume. He won at Richmond in the first of the two races held there and fourth the next time. He also had a top-10 finish at Bristol. Hamlin could qualify for the last round if he can turn his recent Martinsville woes around.
Best of the Rest
Logano, Byron and Blaney all come in tied at +800.
Logano’s lone win at Martinsville came back in 2018. He fell just short of a win earlier this season, as he finished second. In 27 Martinsville starts, he’s placed in the top 10 15 times with nine top-five finishes. Keep in mind, Logano already qualified for the next round.
Blaney comes in with a solid Martinsville resume. In his last seven starts here, he’s finished in the top-five five times, including consecutive second-place finishes. Both second-place finishes came in 2020. In 2021, he finished 11th in both races. Earlier this season, he placed fourth. Can he continue the trend?
Martinsville has proven to be one of Byron’s most consistent tracks. He won here earlier this season and he’s placed in the top five in four of his last six starts. To ensure a spot in the final round, Byron’s success at Martinsville will have to continue.
While he’s not in the playoffs, Martin Truex Jr. is next on the board at +900. This season was slightly a different story than he’s used to at Martinsville. Before a 22nd-place finish, Truex Jr. was coming off a five-race stretch here that included three wins. In 20 short-track starts since 2019, he has 10 top-five finishes and six wins. Truex Jr.’s season wasn’t what he’d hoped, but he could still win this one Sunday.
They Could Win
Bell, Chastain and Kyle Larson enter at +1200.
Martinsville hasn’t been one of Bell’s favorite tracks. In five career starts his best performance was a seventh-place finish. Outside of that, he has only earned a top-15 spot once.
Similar to Hamlin, Bell ran well on all the other short tracks except for Martinsville. He finished sixth in the first race at Richmond this season then second back in August. In mid-September, he finished fourth at Bristol. Bell certainly has a chance to win and qualify for the final round.
Before this season, Chastain had placed in the top 10 only once in 17 road-course races. He finished fifth in the first Martinsville race and sixth at Bristol in September. Chastain has had a heck of a season and he’ll look for any way he can to get one of those last spots.
Larson finished 19th earlier this season and 14th in this race last season. In the spring race in 2021, he placed fifth. His stats on road courses aren’t incredibly impressive. In 42 starts, he’s placed in the top 10 19 times and in the top five nine times. Larson denied playoff drivers an automatic qualifying bid by winning at Las Vegas in the previous race, don’t be too surprised if he did it again.
Where’s the Value?
Kyle Busch might hold some of the best value on the board this week. He comes in at +1600, the same odds Logano was when he won at Las Vegas. He placed seventh here earlier this season and second in this race last season. From the fall of 2015 to March of 2019, Busch enjoyed an eight-race streak in which he placed in the top five. This will be the second to last time he suits up for Joe Gibbs Racing.
While he had arguably one of the biggest falloffs this season, Brad Keselowski still makes his way into the value section at +3300. He finished 17th earlier this season but third in this race last season. Similar to Busch, Keselowski enjoyed a streak of his own. Before this season, he enjoyed a stretch of 12 Martinsville starts where he finished in the top 10 11 times.
Both these drivers offer value in the outright market and the prop market. Busch is -160 to finish in the top 10 and +200 to finish in the top five. For Keselowski, he’s at even odds to finish in the top 10 and +400 for a top-five finish.Follow us on Twitter