Best Bets Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway: NASCAR Odds, Picks, and Analysis

We are down to the penultimate race of the 2022 NASCAR season. On Sunday the Cup Series is heading to Martinsville Speedway for the Xfinity 500. Kyle Larson played spoiler last week won at Homestead. So only Joey Logano, has locked himself into the Championship Four. Even with all the chaos on the track, the books NASCAR Odds continue to be sharp. While I have placed one bet so far this week, DraftKings has taken that matchup off the board (Brad Keselowski -105 vs Tyler Reddick). So full disclosure, I haven’t bet the two outright picks I discuss below, but they are ones I am looking at as the weekend approaches.

PROJECTING MARTINSVILLE

In the spring passing was a challenge, although drivers could somewhat pass within the pack. Passing for the lead was impossible outside of pit stops. Joey Logano had the best car at the end of the race but couldn’t get around William Byron. Chase Elliott led the first 185 laps, only giving up the lead on a pit stop. Once Byron took the lead he never gave it up outside of some random laps during pit cycles.

NASCAR held a test over the summer with minor changes to the car setup. Despite the test no changes to the car itself will be in place this weekend. However, Goodyear is bringing a new tire compound this weekend. The company says the new tire will lay more rubber on the track even in cold condition. I still expect passing up front to be difficult though. With passing likely to be at a premium, track position and pit stops will be critical.

Martinsville is a .526 mile true oval with no banking on the straightaways and 12 banking in the turns. The surface of the track is also unique, being concrete in the turns and asphalt on the straightaways. While we can use some data from other short flat tracks such as Phoenix, Richmond, and New Hampshire, the best predictor of Martinsville is Martinsville.

My performance metric this week is focusing on 2021/2022 performance at Martinsville. I am also mixing in speed data from the 2022 races at Phoenix, Richmond, and New Hampshire. Finally, because this could come down to a race off of pit road, 2022 pit I have included recent pit stop performance as its own factor.

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NASCAR BETTING ANALYSIS: XFINITY 500

No driver is technically eliminated without a win and at least two drivers will make it to the final on points. That said, most of the drivers currently below the cutoff are unlikely to make it in on points. Chase Biscoe is 43 points back and Christopher Bell 33 points are both effectively in a must win situation. Ryan Blaney is only 21 points back, but it would still take a lot of luck for him to advance without a win. This means only Denny Hamlin, who is five points back of William Byron can realistically reach the final on points.

Given the importance of track position this spring I expect teams to be conscious of if other playoff drivers are pitting at the end of stages. If one playoff driver pits I expect most will follow to maintain track position. The real “points strategy” will be in what drivers do late in the race if challenged for a spot.

Last year Denny Hamlin was nearly eliminated from the Championship Four by aggressively fighting to keep the lead late. Late in that race, Alex Bowman, who had been eliminated from the playoffs, spent several laps trying to pass Denny, staying right on his bumper. Bowman ended up getting loose and spinning Hamlin. While the Hamlin-Bowman incident was not intentional, moving a driver to take the lead is not uncommon at Martinsville. Should Chastain, Elliott or Byron be in a similar situation this year I expect the playoff driver to give way .

NASCAR ODDS AND BETTING PICKS: DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL

Outright Bets I’m Eyeing

Full disclosure, I HAVE NOT bet either of these drivers yet. I am likely going to wait until after practice and qualifying to make any outright bet. That said, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. are two drivers that I’m considering.

Several things draw me to these drivers. First, both are highly rated in my expected performance metric. I have Logano ranked third and Truex ranked fifth. Both drivers are also in a position where they can be aggressive at the end of the race. Logano has already locked himself into Phoenix and Truex failed to make the playoffs so points don’t matter to them. Finally, the percentage of laps led by both drivers in recent Martinsville races compares favorably to the implied odds of their best available lines.

Laps led as a percentage of laps run is an undeniably crude stat. It can however provide some general guidance about the “fair price” for drivers who have lead meaningful laps at a track in multiple races. Assuming the laps led by a driver were randomly distributed across all laps, we can get the “fair odds” for for that driver leading any randomly chosen lap, theoretically including the last one.

#19 Martin Truex Jr. +1000 | (DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbooks)

Truex, in fact all of Toyota, was bad here in the spring. Since joining Joe Gibbs Racing however, Truex has dominated Martinsville. He has three wins in seven starts as well as finishes of fourth and eighth. This spring’s race was his only truly poor performance. In the one other race where he finished outside the Top 10 he led 129 laps before late issues ended his day.

After the bumpy race at Martinsville Truex has continued to be strong at short tracks this year. Truex finished fourth and seventh at Richmond and fourth at New Hampshire. At New Hampshire he was likely the car to beat but for poor pit strategy. My performance metric has Truex as the fifth ranked driver this weekend.

Turning to laps led, since joining JGR Truex has led 754 laps at Martinsville. This accounts for 22% of all laps run at the track during that time. Assuming those laps led were randomly distributed across all laps the “fair odds” for Truex would be +350. If we go back to the first race in which he led double digit laps (while at Furniture Row) he has led 1015 laps, good for 13.7% of all laps run (+580). 

If I do bet on Truex I I wouldn’t bet him all the way down to +580. I do however think there is potential value at +1000. Truex, known for being somewhat emotionless, has shown plenty of emotion over the past several starts. He is showing he still wants to compete and is hungry for a win.

#22 Joey Logano +950 | (FanDuel Sportsbook)

If you are in the Garage Guys Discord you know I didn’t love Logano when I first saw odds. By the time I convinced myself I liked +1000 he had moved to +900. Last night though FanDuel made him a bit longer and at +950 I’m now considering him again.

Logano has been fast all year at short tracks. At Martinsville this spring he was the only driver who looked like he might make a green flag pass for the lead. Logano never fell back from his 14th place starting position and by lap 200 was up to 3rd. He also recorded 22 fastest laps.

Only Elliott and Byron are ahead of Logano in my expected performance metric. Given their playoff status however Logano likely has an intangible advantage my metric can’t capture. Since Logano won at Las Vegas his position in the Championship Four is secure. That means that unlike Byron and Elliott, Logano can afford a late race mishap while challenging for or defending the lead.

Since joining Penske Logano has led 1098 laps in 19 races at Martinsville. That’s approximately 11.6% of all laps run during that time translating to odds of +762, well clear of his +950 odds at FanDuel. There is one mark against Logano in this area, which is why I haven’t yet bet him yet. In half of his Martinsville races he has led under 10 laps. That includes five races where he didn’t lead a single lap.

If Logano slides to +1000 at any book I will be making the bet. I can’t see a world in which I would bet him at +800, but if he practices well but his odds don’t move much I may add him to my card as low as +900.

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