NASCAR Cup Series: Top Bets for Monday’s Martinsville STP 500
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Note: The STP 500 has been postponed until Monday at 2 p.m. ET due to inclement weather.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the shortest track on its schedule this weekend for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. At a short, flat track such as Martinsville, close quarters often lead to beating and banging as cars battle for the all-important track position, which creates more variance than at most tracks.
However, because the track is so short, it’s not unusual to have green flag runs of 50+ laps. Thus, long run speed is a key stat at Martinsville. The track’s unique properties mean track history is a big factor in my machine learning statistical model as well. I’ll also use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
Last weekend at Auto Club Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. won the race, but my picks to win finished a respectable second, third and fourth.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best price. Let’s dive into this week’s picks for Martinsville Speedway!
Kyle Busch: +400 at 5Dimes.eu
Kyle Busch has everything going for him in terms of the key stats at Martinsville. His 10-lap speed in final practice was second-best, and his 20-lap average topped the charts. Additionally, Busch has the best driver rating over the last two, four and six races at Martinsville, including the most laps led on average in each of those splits. My machine learning model gives him the second-best average finish (5.93), and the Sim Scores show four of the top five most historically similar drivers to Busch finished first or second at Martinsville.
Martin Truex Jr.: +600 at TheGreek.com
Make sure you shop around for lines on Truex, because he has some variance across sites. However, +600 seems too steep for Truex, who has won three of the 10 races he’s started on the pole during his time at Furniture Row Racing, leading the most laps in two of the other seven races. Truex posted the third-best 10-lap average in final practice, and gets the all-important number one pit stall at Martinsville, where pit road is extra tight. My model gives him the best average finish (5.71), along with the most laps led, while the Sim Scores show four of the 16 most similar drivers to Truex won at Martinsville.
Ryan Newman: +6600 at 5Dimes.eu
Newman is the type of driver I like to bet on as a long shot at these highly variable tracks. He’s extremely experienced, great at short, flat tracks and has stolen a win before at Phoenix, which is usually less variable than Martinsville. Newman posted the sixth-best 10-lap and second-best 20-lap average in final practice. Additionally, two of his top 18 comparable drivers finished second at Martinsville. Do I think he’s likely to win? No. But my model and the Sim Scores show his odds are similar to those of Clint Bowyer (+1600), Aric Almirola (+4000), and Jamie McMurray (+5500), and significantly better than those of Jimmie Johnson (+1500), Erik Jones (+3750), and a few others. He’s a dart throw at great odds, who should hit better than one in 60.
Top Photo: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (31) drives during practice for the STP 500