The Action Network: Best bets for Martinsville night race

PJ Walsh breaks down his best bets for the night race at Martinsville Speedway with three past winners at the Virginia short track on his betting card.

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Martinsville Speedway is my favorite racetrack on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Whenever someone asks for my perfect hypothetical Cup Series schedule, my reply is, “36 races at Martinsville.” Martinsville is old school in every way: short, flat, tight and bumpers are not only encouraged, they’re required to make passes.

Wednesday’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 (7 p.m. ET, FS1) will also be the first Cup Series night race at Martinsville, so expect plenty of bumping and banging under the lights.

In order to zero in on my best for Martinsville, I’m leaning heavily on results from 2018, which were run with a race package similar to what teams will use.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@PJWalsh24) for any additional bets I add for Martinsville.

NASCAR at Martinsville Odds, Betting Picks

*Odds as of Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET

Kyle Busch (+460) to win at Martinsville

When it comes to Martinsville, Kyle Busch is the first name that comes to mind. Over his last nine races at the track known as “The Paperclip,” Busch has two wins and eight top-five finishes.

More specifically, Busch also had the best car at Martinsville in 2018.

In those two races, Busch had the best average finish, ran the most fast laps, had the best average running position and the best driver rating.

And the icing on the cake? Busch finished second at Atlanta Motor Speedway last Sunday, meaning his team will have the second pick when selecting its pit stall. Considering the importance of track position and Martinsville’s tight pit road, this could be the difference between winning and losing.

Denny Hamlin (+700) to win at Martinsville

I’m having a hard time separating Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. If two options are viewed equally, it makes sense to simply take the one with the best odds/potential payout. In this case, that option is Hamlin.

In 2018 at Martinsville, Hamlin had the second-best average running position, ran the second-most fast laps and led the fourth-most laps.

And while this is certainly more subjective than the numbers above, Goodyear is bringing a softer tire to Martinsville with the goal being more wear and falloff later in green-flag runs.

A high-horsepower, low-downforce race with excessive tire wear is right in Hamlin’s wheelhouse at Martinsville, making him a very attractive option at 7-1.

Clint Bowyer (+2000) to win at Martinsville

Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing prior to the start of the 2017 season, Bowyer has one win and four top-seven finishes in six races at Martinsville.

And more importantly, that win came in the spring of 2018. In fact, Bowyer had the third-best driver rating over both Martinsville races that season.

Bowyer also finished fifth at Phoenix Raceway earlier this year, another flat track that used the same package teams will race at Martinsville.