The race at Martinsville Speedway was delayed a day due to rain, but it didn’t disappoint once the NASCAR Cup Series drivers got on the track. Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney were dominant for most of the day, but Martin Truex, Jr. did what Martin Truex, Jr. does and struck once the sun went down, grabbing the lead with 20 laps to go and getting another victory at “The Paperclip.” Truex has now won both flat track races ran thus far in 2021, and we’re off to Richmond Raceway this upcoming weekend for another short track event.
But before we talk about that race, I have to take a small victory lap here with Truex, because if you follow my Twitter account, you know that I was tweeting halfway through the race that it was great value to bet him live at 9/1 and 8/1 odds.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Richmond. I’m projecting Martin Truex, Jr. to be on the pole for Sunday’s race with Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Joey Logano rounding out the top 5 in the starting order. It should be no surprise that Truex is the early favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook, but the driver I’m most interested in betting now is projected to start 6th. And that’s Kyle Larson.
Early Bet To Lock In: Kyle Larson to Win (+1000)
This is what the rule of thumb has been in 2021 for Kyle Larson now that he’s in great equipment at Hendrick Motorsports: if he was good at a track in his Ganassi cars, he’ll be great in Hendrick cars. If he was just decent at a track in his Ganassi cars, he’ll be good in Hendrick cars. Case in point: Martinsville. Statistically, it was one of Larson’s worst tracks, with just one top 5 finish in 12 career starts before he got to Hendrick. Yesterday, Larson started back in 19th but ran top 5 for most of the race and finished 5th.
Now let’s look at Richmond. Obviously Larson didn’t race here last season, but looking at the last seven races at this track, Kyle has five finishes of 7th or better, including a win back in 2017 and a 2nd-place finish back in 2016. He wrecked here in the spring 2019 race, and if you take that race out of the equation, Larson has the 6th-best average running position over since the fall race of 2016 at this race track.
Another reason to like Kyle Larson on Sunday besides his track record at Richmond? This will be the first flat track race where Larson has a relatively “clean” start. He was slated to start on the front row at Richmond this year but inspection issues sent him to the back of the field at the start, and even though he had a couple of speeding penalties, Larson still had one of the fastest cars that day. And then at Martinsville he started back in 19th, as mentioned before.
Larson has one of the fastest cars in the Cup Series right now, and when he has a clean race, he can dominate the event–like we saw him do at Las Vegas and Atlanta this year. It’s definitely worth betting him at 10-to-1 to win again at Richmond, but do so while you can, as I fully expect those odds to get shorter as the week goes on.