NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesSunday, March 30 – 1:00 p.m. EDT
Martinsville Speedway – Martinsville, VA
The NASCAR field makes its first of two appearances at the short track of Martinsville Speedway when the drivers rev up their engines in the STP 500 on Sunday. This 0.526-mile oval track was completed in 1947 and has banking consisting of 12° turns with completely flat straights, which both measure 800 feet (0.15 miles).
Since 2003, only seven different drivers have won the 22 races run on this track. Jimmie Johnson has eight wins in this span, Jeff Gordon has five, Denny Hamlin has four, Tony Stewart has a pair of wins, and the trio of Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Rusty Wallace has one victory apiece. Johnson won the 2013 spring race while Gordon took home the checkered flag in the fall.
Odds to Win Race
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||12-to-1|
|FIELD (Any other driver)||100-to-1|
|Martin Truex Jr.||100-to-1|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||100-to-1|
Drivers to WatchJimmie Johnson (2/1) - Sure the odds are incredibly unfavorable, but if you’re putting money down on just one driver this weekend, the choice would have to be Johnson. The No. 48 car not only has eight victories on this track (all since 2004), but Johnson has a ridiculous 17 top-5’s in 24 career starts here (71%) and an unbelievable average finish of 5.3. After two straight subpar finishes this year (19th at Bristol, 24th at Fontana), expect Johnson to get back in the winner's circle again this weekend.
Kasey Kahne (18/1) - Of the boatload of drivers garnering double-digit odds on Sunday, Kahne is the best play of the bunch. He finished 8th on the most recent short-track race on the circuit (Bristol) and placed 3rd at Martinsville in the fall of 2012 before his 4th-place showing last spring. Kahne actually won the pole in the spring of 2012 at this track, but engine problems took him out of the race, marking the fourth time he's suffered car problems at Martinsville in his career. Kahne doesn't usually have two bad races in a row, making him perfectly capable of getting back on track after his miserable 41st-place finish last week at Fontana. The odds are just too favorable not to drop a small wager on.
Greg Biffle (50/1) - Speaking of favorable odds, after going off at 20-to-1 last spring at this track, Biffle now gets legitimate darkhorse odds of 50-to-1. The reason his odds are so hefty is due to a slow start to the 2014 season with four straight finishes of 12th or worse. Biffle is not a short-track expert, but he has certainly improved at these types of venues, especially Martinsville. He has finished the same or better in six straight races at this track, including three straight top-10 showings. This steady improvement is why you should drop a small wager on Biffle for Sunday's race.
Ryan Newman (35/1) - The champion of this race in the spring of 2012 has been up-and-down at this track, but seven top-5's in 24 starts isn't too shabby for a driver with darkhorse 35-to-1 odds. His steady climb up the points standings from 21st after Daytona to his current 8th-place standing is also a good sign for Sunday.
Paul Menard (150/1) - Menard's odds have doubled since last spring at Martinsville when he went off at 75-to-1, making him clearly the best longshot wager this weekend. He has improved his standing in the Chase for the Cup in every one of his starts, beginning 30th after Daytona to his current 14th-place standing. Menard has also started 12th or better in four of his past eight starts at Martinsville, showing he can be successful at this track despite the absence of any top-10 finishes in his 13 career starts on this short track.