NASCAR returns to the legendary short track in Southside Virginia. Martinsville Speedway is the oldest track on the circuit. It’s short and simple in design, but anything but to drive. The 400 lap race favors the familiar favorites.
As always, trust the data but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series NOCO 400 at Martinsville, which gets underway Sunday, April 16 at 3 p.m. ET.
This season has seen it all. The NASCAR Cup Series circuit has raced at super speedways, intermediate tracks, road courses, short tracks and even a dirt track. Through the variety, one constant has remained, and a surprising one at that. The short tracks have been dominated by the favorites. That’s not too much of a departure from years past. Small to mid-sized teams tend to devote resources to more winnable race tracks and often neglect their short-track programs. This leads to a significant disparity between the have and have nots. However, the surprise is that the new low-downforce racing package has not affected the favorites. The Gen 7 car may be a handful but the elite drivers have handled it well. Long shots have not benefited from a reckless race car. Phoenix and Richmond were controlled from start to finish by the best. Martinsville should play out the same.
Race Winner — NOCO 400
Kyle Larson +650
Take your pick. It’s Larson or William Byron (+600) at the top. These two Hendrick drivers had the fastest average lap times at Phoenix and Richmond. Larson was better at Phoenix but Byron got the win after a late-race caution. Byron was the best at Richmond but Larson got the win after a late-race caution. Both tracks featured the new racing package and both are considered short, flat tracks. Last season, Byron dominated and won at Martinsville in the spring race. In the fall, Larson led the third-most laps and finished second.
This track holds a special place for Hendrick Motorsports. They’ve seen the highest of highs from numerous wins to a win that kept the organization afloat. It’s also the location of the tragic plane crash that took Ricky Hendrick’s life. The team devotes more time to this track than any other. Collecting grandfather clocks in victory lane is important. Bet them both.
Chase Elliott +700
This seems like a reach. The odds are too short. Most NASCAR bettors will be turned off by Elliott’s odds. He’s a favorite in his first race back from injury. The DraftKings Sportsbook knows what it’s doing. They’re not amateurs. Elliott is a threat to win. If he wasn’t healthy enough to win, he wouldn’t be racing. Josh Berry was likely chomping at the bit to drive the Hendrick No. 9 Chevy at Martinsville. The substitute driver has dominated at The Paperclip in late model races and in Xfinity Series races. Elliott has also won at this short track (2020). The Hendrick Chevys have been electric in the new racing package. Josh Berry earned top-10 finishes at Phoenix and Richmond in the No. 9 car. Elliott can win. It would be nice to get longer odds, but the odds are a tell. Another tell is that Elliott is not featured in any matchup bets or group bets. If one pops up later in the week, it should be considered
Race Winner — NOCO 400
Christopher Bell +650
Last fall, Bell qualified for the Cup Series Championship by leading the second-most laps (152) and winning at Martinsville. He is one of the best short-track racers in the Cup Series. He dominated the short tracks in the Xfinity Series. In his third season in the Cup Series (2022), Bell took a major leap forward by winning at New Hampshire and Martinsville, and nearly winning at Richmond — all three are short, flat tracks. Momentum is on Bell’s side. He won the Bristol Dirt Race last week. A week before that, he was in contention to win at Richmond. The JGR Toyotas may not be as fast as the Hendrick Chevys in the low-downforce, short-track package, but they’re not too far behind.
Driver Props — NOCO 400
Ross Chastain vs. Kyle Busch — Ross Chastain +105
The RCR Chevys have been strong this season, but they have not been great in the new short-track package. Randall Burnett has been great at setting up cars for Martinsville, and Kyle Busch is great at Martinsville. The duo should beat Ross Chastain, but Chastain’s car is faster. That tends to matter in auto racing. Chastain had top-10 speed at Phoenix. He recorded the third-quickest lap times at Richmond. There was Byron and Larson at the top of the timing sheet at Richmond, then Chastain. Busch did not have top-10 speed in either race.
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