NASCAR at Martinsville Picks: An Early Group Bet for Sunday’s First Data 500

NASCAR at Martinsville Picks: An Early Group Bet for Sunday’s First Data 500 article feature image

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: An overall view of the track during the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

  • The NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8 begins Sunday at Martinsville Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports).
  • Here's one group matchup bet offering early value for the 2019 First Data 500.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) Playoffs Round of 8 is set, with Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney advancing following Sunday’s race at Kansas.

After races at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway and 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, the MENCS returns to my favorite track on the circuit, the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway.

After perusing odds for this weekend’s First Data 500, very little jumped out at me regarding longshot value, or even early week value overall. But I have found an enticing group matchup bet available at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.

Group matchups are basically a combination of futures and head-to-head matchups in which oddsmakers assign odds to a group of drivers — in this case four — and whichever driver finishes ahead of the other three cashes.

It doesn’t matter where the driver finishes in the overall finishing order, as long as he or she beats the other three in the group, it’s a win.

For example, here’s the specific group I’m looking at for Sunday’s First Data 500:

  • Daniel Suarez: +225
  • Aric Almirola: +225
  • Alex Bowman: +305
  • William Byron: +305

Martinsville is a short, flat track, which makes it unique compared to the rest of the tracks on the MENCS schedule.

To break down this grouping, I looked at a handful of key metrics for each of these drivers at the other short, flat tracks on the schedule: Phoenix, Richmond (two races) and New Hampshire.

As you can see, Almirola dominates across every statistical measure at the flat tracks, and his performance was similarly good at Martinsville earlier this season, which is important to note since it represents the only race run at this track with the current aero package.

Here are stats from the STP 500 at Martinsville earlier this year:

While Suarez finished just one spot behind Aric back in March, Almirola clearly had the faster car as evidenced by the superior average running position and driver rating.

Almirola having an edge over the other three drivers in average starting position is another important note, because while it doesn’t necessarily matter in determining who wins the bet, it does have an effect on locking in the best line possible.

Prior to practice and qualifying, sportsbooks will take these lines off the board, then adjust based on what happens on the track, with a heavy emphasis on starting position. The drivers who qualify well will re-open with shortened odds, while those with poor starting positions will become longer.

Over the course of the season, Almirola has been the best qualifier of the group at this track type, so it makes sense to lock in this wager early.

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