Prime Sports NASCAR – weekly picks round up after Richmond, picks now for Martinsville

Eric’s top driver of the week was Martin Truex Jr. He nearly got the win with him. None of us had William Byron (11-1) so with all of us riding Truex, we all were cheering for his late race charge. However, there Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick were. Eric and CJ had Hamlin, Greg had Harvick. So long as Byron didn’t steal a win in Richmond, someone was coming out a winner among our group.

Hamlin, passed Byron on Lap 395 and held off Harvick to become the 6th winner this season with double digit odds to reach victory lane.

We saw 28-1 Austin Cindric kick things off in Daytona. 4-1 Kyle Larson won a week later. 18-1 Alex Bowman won in Vegas followed by a 50-1 longshot (Chase Briscoe) a week later in Atlanta. Then, we got a 12-1 winner via William Byron in Atlanta followed by 25-1 at Ross Chastain for COTA and now 12-1 Hamlin this past week.

Will Martinsville continue the trend?

The first night race of the season is here as we’ll run 400 laps under the lights at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway this weekend. That’s a big change from a few years ago to where Martinsville didn’t have lights ready for NASCAR as well as the distance always being 500 laps.

How much of a factor will that play?

So far, this new car has proven to be just what we expected it to be. 7 races down, 7 different winners from 5 different organizations. Will Martinsville be a place to keep this going?

To find the winner, you can’t really look past the “Big 3” on Saturday night. JGR, Penske and Hendrick Motorsports. This trio has combined to win each of the last 7 races on the Virginia paperclip including 14 out of the last 15 overall.

Combined, you get eight of the top 10 finishers from the 2020 June race between these three organization. They also took five of the top six spots in the playoff race that year too, then went 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 last April and 1-2-3-4-5 in the Fall race.

Does the new car alter their dominance? I don’t honestly see how it does since it’s such a short track and aero is thrown out the window. They had 8 of the top 9 finishers last weekend in Richmond at that.

JGR and Penske would be the ones to beat normally as they’ve put four cars in the top five of the finishing order in three of the last six Martinsville races and have won six of the last eight there too among themselves.

JGR had questions surrounding them last week but came out and dominated the show in Richmond. I think they’re viable options again this week. Martin Truex Jr. (winner of 3 out of the last 5 here), Denny Hamlin (4 top 5’s last 7 in Martinsville), Kyle Busch (11 top 10’s in last 13) and Christopher Bell (7th last year) have all had solid races on the Virginia paperclip lately. Truex, now also has 4 top 8 finishes in the last 5 weeks. Bell and Busch, each have 3 top 10’s in the last 5 weeks themselves while Hamlin, finally has his win out of the way.

In Penske’s case, Austin Cindric is a rookie but has gotten better in his three NXS starts in being 10th to 6th to 2nd, but he was also 21st and 10th in his 2 Truck tries too. I just don’t see a rookie driver winning Martinsville. His two teammates though could be factors in Joey Logano (7 top 10’s in his last 8) and Ryan Blaney (5 top 5’s last 8).

HMS has won 2 of the last 3 but both were in the Fall race. However, the fall race has ended under the lights though too which could be an advantage in its own right. They’ve not won a spring race since 2013 though and looked pedestrian in Richmond despite 3 cars finishing in the top 10.

In saying this, I think you can really eliminate Cindric (Penske), Larson (Hendrick) and Hamlin (JGR). For Cindric, the last time we’ve seen a “rookie” win here was Morgan Shepherd in 1981. However, he did make some starts prior to ’81 but that Martinsville race was just his 12th career Cup starts. The last one prior to that was Earl Ross who was making his 21st start in his 1974 win. Numbers aren’t on his side.

For Hamlin, he’s only gone back-to-back weeks with wins twice in his Cup career. The last time occurring a decade ago (2012).

Larson, has 1 top 5 (5th place last year) in his last 9 Martinsville tries including 10 of his 14 tries there seeing him finish outside the top 15. You also have Elliott (HMS) with 1 top 5 all year and no wins on an oval since Nov. 2020.

Race Odds

5-1…M Truex Jr. (Eric, CJ, Greg)

7-1…C Elliott

9-1…R Blaney (Eric, Greg) Kyle B (Eric, CJ), D Hamlin and J Logano (Eric, Greg)

12-1…W Byron (Eric, CJ) and K Larson (CJ)

14-1…A Bowman (Eric, CJ)

16-1…C Bell (Eric, CJ, Greg) R Chastain, T Reddick (CJ, Greg)

20-1…K Harvick (CJ, Greg)

25-1…C Briscoe and B Keselowski (Eric, Greg)

50-1…A Almirola, Kurt B and E Jones (Eric)

70-1…A Cindric and A Dillon

80-1…C Buescher and D Suarez (Eric)

150-1…AJ Allmendinger (Eric) and C Custer

200-1…H Burton, J Haley, R Stenhouse Jr and D Wallace Jr.

MAXIMUM PAIN RELIEF 400 PICKS: RACE 8

CJ Radune

M Truex Jr…5-1…$23 ($115)

Kyle B…9-1…$15 ($135)

W Byron…12-1…$13 ($156)

K Larson…12-1…$12 ($144) 

A Bowman…14-1…$11 ($154)

C Bell…16-1…$10 ($160)

T Reddick…16-1…$10 ($160) 

K Harvick…20-1…$6 ($120)

RECORD: 5 for 7

TOTAL: -25

Eric Smith

M Truex Jr…5-1…$25 ($125)

R Blaney…9-1…$12 ($108) 

Kyle B…9-1…$14 ($126)

J Logano…9-1…$14 ($126)

W Byron…12-1…$10 ($120)

A Bowman…14-1…$8 ($112)

C Bell…16-1…$7 ($112)

B Keselowski…25-1…$4 ($100) 

E Jones…50-1…$3 ($150)

D Suarez…80-1…$2 ($160)

AJ Allmendinger…150-1…$1 ($150)

RECORD: 3 for 7

TOTAL: -223

Greg DePalma

M Truex Jr…5-1…$20 ($100)

R Blaney…9-1…$28 ($252) 

J Logano…9-1…$10 ($90)

C Bell…16-1…$15 ($240)

T Reddick…16-1…$10 ($160) 

K Harvick…20-1…$10 ($200)

B Keselowski…25-1…$7 ($175)

RECORD: 2 for 7

TOTAL: -340

ARCHIVES

TOYOTA OWNERS 400 PICKS: RACE 7

TOYOTA OWNERS 400 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

CJ Radune

C Elliott…9-1…$14 ($126) …14th

Kyle B…10-1…$12 ($120) …9th

J Logano…10-1…$12 ($120) …17th

M Truex Jr…10-1…$12 ($120) …4th

D Hamlin…12-1…$10 ($120) …1st 

T Reddick…12-1…$10 ($120) …12th  

R Blaney…13-1…$10 ($130) …7th

C Bell…14-1…$10 ($140) …6th

C Briscoe…18-1…$10 ($180) …11th

RECORD: 1 for 1

TOTAL: +30

Greg DePalma

C Elliott…9-1…$20 ($180) …14th

M Truex Jr…10-1…$10 ($100) …4th

C Bell…14-1…$25 ($350) …6th 

A Bowman…18-1…$10 ($180) …8th

K Harvick…18-1…$15 ($270) …2nd

D Suarez…25-1…$10 ($250) …16th

A Dillon…40-1…$5 ($200) …10th

B Keselowski…70-1…$5 ($350) …13th

RECORD: 0 for 1

TOTAL: -100

Eric Smith

Kyle B…10-1…$14 ($140) …9th

M Truex Jr…10-1…$22 ($220) …4th

R Chastain…12-1…$10 ($120) …19th

D Hamlin…12-1…$14 ($168) …1st 

T Reddick…12-1…$15 ($180) …12th   

C Bell…14-1…$11 ($154) …6th

D Suarez…25-1…$5 ($125) …16th 

A Almirola…30-1…$4 ($120) …21st

E Jones…50-1…$3 ($150) …23rd

C Custer…100-1…$2 ($200) …22nd

RECORD: 1 for 1TOTAL: +82

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