On Sunday, March 24th, NASCAR will be live from the Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia, for the STP 500. This is the first of two NASCAR races held at the longtime annual track. After 5 races, Kyle Busch has moved to the front of the pack and looks to win his third race in a row. He is the first driver to win two races this season and comes into this race as the odds on favorite with NASCAR betting sites.
The Martinsville Speedway is a ½ mile short track shaped like an elongated oval. It has four turns and two straightaways. It’s the most basic of shapes in NASCAR tracks. The first NASCAR race held at this track was in 1950, making it one of the oldest tracks in the sport.
- Total Miles: 263
- Total Laps: 500
- Stage 1: First 130 laps
- Stage 2: Second 130 laps
- Final Stage: Remaining 240 laps
The STP 500 race will begin at 2 PM ET and can be seen on FS1.
What to Watch For at Martinsville
As mentioned, Kyle Busch is looking to win his third race in a row on the season. He’s been very strong the last two weeks and comes into the STP 500 in first place and the betting favorite. In addition to Busch, other storylines to watch this Sunday are:
- Will Kevin Harvick’s winless streak continue?
- Will we get a repeat winner at Martinsville?
- Can one of the young drivers compete for the checkered flag?
- Will Martin Truex Jr. or Clint Bowyer show up in victory circle on Sunday?
- Can Jimmie Johnson or Denny Hamlin become a 4-time STP 500 winner?
Past STP 500 Winners
Richard Petty leads all drivers with 9 wins at this track. Of the active drivers, both Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin are tied with 3 wins apiece. The defending STP 500 champ is Clint Bowyer. The following is a list of the previous STP 500 winners dating back to 2003:
- Jeff Gordon in 2003, 2005
- Rusty Wallace in 2004
- Tony Stewart in 2006
- Jimmie Johnson in 2007, 2009, 2013
- Denny Hamlin in 2008, 2010, 2015
- Kevin Harvick in 2011
- Ryan Newman in 2012
- Kurt Busch in 2014
- Kyle Busch in 2016
- Brad Keselowski in 2017
- Clint Bowyer in 2018
STP 500 Betting Odds
The following NASCAR betting odds for the STP 500 are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Kyle Busch +225
- Brad Keselowski +500
- Martin Truex Jr +700
- Joey Logano +800
- Denny Hamlin +1000
- Clint Bowyer +1200
- Kevin Harvick +1600
- Chase Elliott +2000
- Ryan Blaney +2000
- Aric Almirola +2500
- Kurt Busch +2500
- Jimmie Johnson +3300
- Kyle Larson +3300
- Erik Jones +5000
- Ryan Newman +6600
- Alex Bowman +8000
- Austin Dillon +8000
- Daniel Suarez +8000
- Paul Menard +10000
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr +10000
- Matt DiBenedetto +15000
- Chris Buescher +25000
- Daniel Hemric +25000
- Ryan Preece +25000
- Ty Dillon +25000
- William Byron +25000
- Darrell Wallace Jr +50000
- David Ragan +50000
- Michael McDowell +50000
Martinsville Betting Favorites
According to NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are odds on favorites to win at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
|Martin Truex Jr.||0||5||10||14.9||18.4||2|
Kyle Busch (+225)
Kyle Busch has clearly picked up where he left off in 2018. Busch has won two races already in 2019, and also leads all other drivers in the standings, most laps led (361), stage wins (4) and playoff points. Last weekend, Kyle dominated at Fontana as he led the most laps with 134 and he won both stages. He swept the race for playoff points and looks very strong for Martinsville.
In 27 career starts at Martinsville, Kyle has won 2 races with one of those races coming in the STP 500. He also has 15 Top 5s, 16 Top 10s, an average finish of 12.3 and 1 DNF. Kyle has 7 straight top 5 finishes including two victories and two runner ups. Over the last 7 years, Kyle’s worst showing was 15th in the fall race.
Although he didn’t win either Martinsville race last year, Kyle finished 2nd in the STP 500 and 4th in the fall race. With how well he’s been racing so far, it’s easy to see why NASCAR sports betting sites are listing Busch as the betting favorite. Can he win a third straight race?
Brad Keselowski (+500)
Keselowski comes into this weekend’s race sitting 5th overall in the driver standings. Since winning in Atlanta, Brad has finished 2nd, 19th, and 3rd at Fontana last weekend. He’s either finishing in the Top 3 this year or outside of the Top 10.
At Martinsville, Keselowski has been solid over the last 6 races as he’s finished in the Top 10 for all 6 of them. Furthermore, over the last 8 Martinsville races, Keselowski has 6 Top 5 finishes, which includes winning the 2017 STP 500 when he outlasted Kyle Busch. In that race, Busch actually led the most laps, but couldn’t beat Keselowski on the final lap.
This weekend, I see Keselowski running strong for the second straight race. He has the potential for a Top 5 car as long as he doesn’t get caught up in any wrecks. But will he be able to outduel Busch for the checkered flag again?
Martin Truex Jr (+700)
Last year at this race, Martin Truex Jr. had already placed himself as one of NASCAR’s Big 3 by winning the 2017 NASCAR championship and winning at Fontana. He had a run of 4 straight Top 5 finishes heading into the 2018 STP 500 where he finished 4th. This year, Truex hasn’t been able to win a race and only has 2 Top 5 finishes in 5 races so far. He’s also been shut out in the stage wins category as well. Truex finished 8th last weekend in Fontana and is hoping to get at least a Top 10 finish this weekend, if not contend for the win.
Despite being a fan of Truex, I have a hard time with the NASCAR online betting sites listing Martin as one of the betting favorites. Over the last 8 races, Trues has finished inside the Top 7 on 6 occasions. He’s finished in the Top 4 over the last 3 Martinsville races. With that said, he’s never won at this track in 26 career starts. He also has 2 DNFs, which is almost half of his 5 Top 5s at this track.
With zero wins and an average finish of 18.4, I find it hard to believe that Truex will win this weekend. I thought last weekend in Fontana was a better opportunity for Martin to get his first win of 2019. This weekend will be a tough race to win for the former champ.
Joey Logano (+800)
Busch is arguably the best driver today, but Joey Logano is the most consistent and steady driver there is. In fact, if this was the old scoring system, Logano would have won more titles by now. On the season, Logano is 2nd in the driver standings. He won at Las Vegas and has 3 Top 5s on the year. His worst showing was in Atlanta where he finished 23rd. Logano had a strong run at Fontana last weekend where he finished 2nd behind the dominant Kyle Busch.
In his last 10 races at Martinsville, Logano has 7 Top 10s and 5 Top 5s. He won the fall Martinsville race last year and finished 6th in the STP 500 last spring. Logano has an average finish of 13.2, which is the 5th best among all active drivers. I expect the reigning NASCAR champ to be a Top 5 car this weekend and compete for a checkered flag. I believe he has the steadiness to hang with Kyle Busch this weekend.
Denny Hamlin (+1000)
Of all of the betting favorites, Denny Hamlin has won the most STP 500 races. As mentioned above, Hamlin has won this race 3 times. However, it’s been 4 years since he last won here. Additionally, Hamlin has won the fall race on 2 occasions, which gives him 5 total wins at Martinsville. Last year, Denny finished 12th in the STP 500 and 2nd in the fall race.
For his career, Hamlin has the second best average finish among active drivers at 9.8 and the 2nd most wins at Martinsville with 5.
On the season, Hamlin currently sits 4th in the driver standings and 3rd in the playoff standings. He won the Daytona 500 this year and hasn’t finished worse than 11th overall in any of the 5 races so far. Last weekend, Hamlin finished 7th overall, which is the 4th Top 10 showing this year.
If any of these favorites has a shot at dethroning Kyle Busch this weekend, it’s definitely Denny Hamlin.
Best STP 500 Betting 500
The following drivers offer the best betting value based on their 2019 season performance to date, career success at Martinsville, and the current NASCAR betting odds for the STP 500:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
Kevin Harvick (+1600)
Anytime I can get Kevin Harvick at these large of odds, I’m taking it. Not only that, but it’s rare when Harvick isn’t a betting favorite. Despite sitting 3rd in the driver standings, and winning two stages this year, Harvick isn’t considered an odds on favorite to win at Martinsville this weekend, which is a surprise to me.
For the season, Harvick has finished 4th, 4th, 9th, and 4th after crashing out of the Daytona 500 in the first race of 2019. Kevin had a solid run at Fontana last weekend, but couldn’t compete with Busch, Logano or Keselowski for the win.
At Martinsville, Harvick has only won one time and that was the 2011 STP 500. He does have 5 Top 10s in his last 8 races at this track. Unfortunately, it’s been 3 years since he’s led a lap at Martinsville. Now, you can see why his odds are lower compared to the favorites.
With that said, I’m not going to count out Kevin Harvick and I believe he offers great betting value at +1600 odds.
Kurt Busch (+2500)
The elder Busch brother currently sits 9th in the driver standings with 2 Top 5s and 4 Top 10s in 5 races this year. Last weekend, Kurt finished 6th at Fontana which was his 4th straight Top 7 finish on the year. He was involved in a crash at Daytona in the 1st week otherwise he would be sitting higher in the driver standings. Despite not having won a race so far, Busch is still a value play this weekend.
Kurt won this race back in 2014 and has 2 career victories at this track. Last year he finished 11th in the STP 500 and 6th in the fall race. Kurt started off the 2018 slow, but finished strong. Currently, Kurt is racing strong in the early portion of 2019 and I believe this weekend’s race will be a good test to show us where Kurt and his team are as playoff contenders.
Jimmie Johnson (+3300)
With a new crew chief, Johnson has had a rocky 2019 so far. He’s only tallied two Top 10 finishes and has three finishes between 17 and 24. His average finish of 15.4 is also rather pedestrian for the 7 time champ. Currently, Johnson sits 14th in the driver standings and 14th in the playoff standings. With that said, no other active driver has performed better at this track than JJ.
Johnson leads all active drivers with 9 wins, 19 Top 5s, 24 Top 10s, and laps led (2,862) in 34 career starts. Since his win in the fall of 2016, JJ has been a middle of the pack driver with a 13.5 average finish.
I believe that Johnson has the ability to pull himself out of the funk he’s in and that can very well happen this Sunday at Martinsville. His last win in the STP 500 came 6 years ago. I think JJ will be a Top 10 car this weekend and could make a run to the front of the field with a little luck at the end of the race.
Best Longshot to Win at Martinsville
For the 4th time this year, Ryan Newman (+6600) is my longshot pick of the week. Last week, I took Austin Dillon who ended up finishing 10th in Fontana. The previous 3 times I’ve taken Newman as my longshot pick, he’s averaged a 16.3 finish. That’s not bad considering the odds. Keep in mind, we’re talking longshots.
For this week, Newman is my pick because of his success at this track. In 34 career starts, Newman has 1 win, 8 Top 5s, 16 Top 10s, an average finish of 14.7 and just 2 DNFs. His last DNF came in his 3rd ever Martinsville race back in the 2003 STP 500. In fact, Newman crashed out in two of his first three Martinsville races.
Newman won the 2012 STP 500. Over his last 9 races at this track, Newman has 5 Top 10s. Over his last 4 Martinsville races, Ryan Newman has an average finish of 12.25. Ryan figured things out by the end of last year when he finished 8th at Martinsville and I believe he can carry that momentum into this race. Watch out for Newman this weekend. And, with a little bit of luck, he could be a contender for a checkered flag.
NASCAR Prop Bets: Driver Matchups for the STP 500
For this type of NASCAR wager, you must pick which driver will finish the STP 500 with the best result. The following NASCAR driver matchups and betting odds are courtesy of 5Dimes:
Denny Hamlin (-160) vs Ryan Blaney (+130)
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Ryan Blaney|
As mentioned above, Hamlin is a 5 time winner at this track and a 3 time winner of this race. Ryan Blaney has never won this race. Furthermore, in Blaney’s 6 starts, he’s only finished in the Top 5 on one occasion. He has 2 Top 10’s for a 33% rate. Hamlin has a 73% rate of finishing inside the Top 10 with 19 Top 10s. He also has 13 Top 5s compared to 1 for Blaney. Hamlin’s 9.8 average finish is 6 spots better than Blaney’s in 4-times as many starts.
Hamlin has been a successful driver at this track while Blaney is still learning how to succeed at Martinsville. With Hamlin already running well this year, I believe he will have a strong finish on Sunday and defeat Ryan Blaney in this head to head competition.
Jimmie Johnson (-145) vs Erik Jones (+115)
|Driver||Jimmie Johnson||Erik Jones|
I’ve taken this head to head matchup in a previous race, picked Jimmie Johnson to win, and watched as Jones defeated JJ. However, this time around, I feel really good about these two drivers. Martinsville requires more technical skill than Jones might have at this point in his young career and we know Johnson has what it takes to win here. As stated above, he’s the active leader in wins, Top 5s and Top 10s. Jones has goose eggs in all three of those categories.
Jones’ best finish was his rookie season where he scored a 12th place finish in the 2017 STP 500. Last year, he finished 17th and JJ finished 15th. Even if you took Johnson’s last 4 races, he still has a better average finish than Jones (13.5 to 20.2).
I’m taking JJ to run well at Martinsville and finish ahead of Jones. I believe JJ will have at least a Top 10 performance where Jones will probably finish between 15 and 20.
Chase Elliott (+100) vs Kevin Harvick (-130)
|Driver||Kevin Harvick||Chase Elliott|
Elliott is a great young driver and I expect him to be at least one of the final 8 drivers in the playoffs this year. I’ve picked him to win a few of these matchups in 2019, but I can’t go with him on this one. I believe Harvick is overdue for a victory. And, despite his lack of wins this year, he’s still running strong. Kevin sits 2nd in the driver standings and Elliott sits 12th. Chase has just one Top 10 this year.
At Martinsville, these two drivers are close with their respective average finishes. But, Harvick has 5 times as much experience at this track. I believe both drivers will exceed their averages at Martinsville, but I see Harvick being the better driver on Sunday.
I expect Harvick to compete for a Top 5 while Elliott finishes right around 10th. For this bet, I’m going with the vet over the young gun.
Winner: Kevin Harvick (-130)
STP 500 Checkered Flag
If Denny Hamlin has a strong car this weekend then I believe he will give Keselowski and Busch a run for their money. I like Logano to go under the radar once again and finish in the Top 5. The wild card this weekend is Kevin Harvick. He won 8 races last year and is due for one already. He’s had 3 top 4 finishes in the last 4 races and could easily compete for the checkered flag on Sunday.
With that said, I’m going with Kyle Busch to win. I didn’t think he would win two in a row, but he’s dominating right now and I’m going to roll with the hot driver. There will be some competition from other drivers, most notably Keselowski and Hamlin, but if Kyle has a good car and stays out of trouble then he will win.
Rounding out the Top 10 will be Martin Truex, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and last year’s winner Clint Bowyer.
My Top 5 Drivers
- Kyle Busch
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin
STP 500 Betting Recap
Winner: Kyle Busch (+225)
- Kevin Harvick (+1600)
- Kurt Busch (+2500)
- Jimmie Johnson (+3300)
- Ryan Newman (+6600)
- Kevin Harvick (-130) over Chase Elliott
- Jimmie Johnson (-145) over Erik Jones
- Denny Hamlin (-160) over Ryan Blaney