With the off-weekend due to Easter past us, the NASCAR Cup Series teams (as well as us fantasy players) will now gear up for 15 straight weekends of racing action, as the next off week isn’t until the end of July. So buckle up, ladies and gentlemen.
Up first is Martinsville Speedway with the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on Saturday night. Yep, we’re doing Martinsville under the lights again, just like we did in 2020. Although, if you remember back to last season, the night race at Martinsville was on a Wednesday night and also started about 30 minutes earlier than this year’s night race is scheduled to go green.
We typically have many of the same faces finishing up front at Martinsville. For example, over the last six races here, both Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney each have five top 5 finishes, while Martin Truex, Jr. has four. When it comes to top 10s, Keselowski is 6-for-6 over the last three years at Martinsville when it comes to finishing inside that range, while Blaney, Truex, Chase Elliott, and Joey Logano are all 5-for-6.
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Martinsville is a half-mile flat track, and the Cup Series drivers are set to race for 500 laps around “The Paperclip” on Saturday night. Similar tracks include Phoenix, Richmond, and New Hampshire, as those are all flat tracks as well, but all three of those venues are longer in length than Martinsville.
We raced at Phoenix earlier this season, and because that is the only other flat track we’ve visited thus far in 2021, we should definitely take a look at the loop data from that race. I’ve also included links to loop data from both Martinsville races in 2020 in the table below.
|Race||Loop Data |
|Green Flag |
|Phoenix (2021)||Click here||Click here|
|Martinsville (2020-2)||Click here||Click here|
|Martinsville (2020)||Click here||Click here|
Pre-Race Loop Data Box Score for Martinsville
Click image to enlarge and download pdf
Martin Truex, Jr. – It should be no surprise that Martin Truex, Jr. is the favorite for Saturday night’s Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. He’s won two of the last three races at this track and with the race that he didn’t win during that span (last year’s Playoff event), he led 129 laps and finished 6th and 2nd in the two Stages but had to pit late for a loose wheel and ended up crossing the finish line in 22nd, one lap down. Over the last two years at Martinsville, Truex has the most fastest laps (287), the most laps led (725), the best average running position (5.2), and the best Green Flag Speed (90.51 mph). Oh, and don’t forget that Truex already won the first flat track race of this 2021 season at Phoenix.
Joey Logano – Like I just mentioned, Phoenix was the first flat track race of this season. Who had the dominant car for most of that race? Joey Logano. Who had the dominant car for much of last year’s Martinsville night race? Joey Logano. Flat tracks aren’t very difficult to figure out; we know the cars that should definitely be up front. As far as Logano goes, he doesn’t have the ultra impressive numbers that Truex has here at Martinsville, but over the last two years here, Joey has led the 4th-most fastest laps (258), has had the 2nd-best average running position (5.9), and has had the 4th-best Green Flag Speed (90.30 mph). Logano won here at Martinsville back in 2018 by moving Truex out of the way and has become a constant top 5 threat at this race track.
Ryan Blaney – Penske Racing and flat tracks are a match made in heaven. Here at Martinsville, these Penske Fords are constant threats for the win, and that definitely includes Ryan Blaney. Somehow, this guy hasn’t grabbed a grandfather clock from Martinsville Speedway yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Young Ryan Blaney is currently on a four-race streak of top 5 finishes at this race track including runner-up efforts in the last two. He also ranks 3rd in fastest laps over that two-year span (155), 3rd in average running position (6.0), and 2nd in Green Flag Speed (90.41 mph). We have yet to see a repeat Cup winner in 2021, but with these three drivers above, it just might happen here at Martinsville on Saturday night.
Kyle Larson – No, that’s no typo: the fastest driver in 2021 is tied for 7th on the odds chart this week for Martinsville at 12-to-1 to win on Saturday night. The reason why? Kyle Larson simply hasn’t been very good here at “The Paperclip.” In 12 career Cup Series starts at this track, Larson has led a grand total of 35 laps and has finished inside the top 10 just twice: a 3rd in 2016 and a 9th in 2019. Now the question becomes, how much should we weigh track history this week when it comes to Larson and his new ride? If we’re going to ignore it, then there’s no doubt that the #5 Chevrolet is going to be a contender again on Saturday night. Hendrick Motorsports as a whole has been very strong here over the last couple of years, and looking back at Phoenix earlier this year, I still think Larson actually had the car to beat in that race. Thanks to his wreck in the Bristol Dirt Race, Larson is going to be starting mid-pack on Saturday night, but he has 500 laps to get that Chevy up front.
Bubba Wallace – Martinsville is a good track for Bubba Wallace, and if this #23 team can somehow get the bad luck bug away from them, they should be able to contend for a top 10 finish here on Saturday night, if not better. In the Truck Series, Bubba has a couple of wins here at “The Paperclip,” and in Cup Series action he has finished 21st, 11th, 13th, and 17th over his last four starts here–and that was in below average Richard Petty Motor Motorsports equipment. Looking back at Phoenix earlier this year, Bubba ranked 15th in Green Flag Speed and ended up finishing 16th. He definitely has NASCAR Fantasy sleeper potential here on Saturday night at Martinsville.
Ryan Preece – The JTG Daugherty Chevrolets tend to be at their best on flat tracks, and while Ryan Preece had a forgettable afternoon at Phoenix earlier this year (he finished 26th), his teammate, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., was able to come home with a 12th-place finish in that race. Now as far as here at Martinsville, Stenhouse has been and probably will always be pretty awful here, but Ryan Preece has been nicely consistent; in three of the last four events at this track, Preece has finished between 16th and 19th, and his average running positions in those races ranged from 18.7 to 21.1, so you know they really weren’t fluke results. Preece isn’t going to go out and win the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on Saturday night, but he has great fantasy potential for a low-tier driver.
Martinsville Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 Betting Odds
As of Tuesday evening, DraftKings Sportsbook had the following odds listed to win Saturday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
- Martin Truex, Jr. +500
- Chase Elliott +600
- Brad Keselowski +600
- Denny Hamlin +700
- Joey Logano +700
- Ryan Blaney +800
- Kyle Busch +1200
- Kyle Larson +1200
- Kevin Harvick +1400
- William Byron +2500
- Alex Bowman +2500
- Christopher Bell +3000
- Kurt Busch +3000
- Matt DiBenedetto +6600
- Tyler Reddick +6600
- Aric Almirola +8000
- Austin Dillon +8000
- Ryan Newman +8000
- Bubba Wallace +8000
- Chase Briscoe +10000
- Cole Custer +10000
- Erik Jones +10000
- Daniel Suarez +10000
- Chris Buescher +12500
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. +15000
- Ryan Preece +20000
- Ross Chastain +25000
- Michael McDowell +25000
- Corey LaJoie +75000
- Anthony Alfredo +75000
- Quin Houff +150000
- Josh Bilicki +150000
- Cody Ware +150000