2017 First Data 500 Race Predictions

Oct 29, 2017 by Nascar Wagers

2017 First Data 500 Race Predictions

2017 First Data 500 Race Predictions
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Betting Preview
Sunday October 29th, 3:16PM (EST) at Martinsville Speedway
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

On Sunday, the first race in the Round of 8 for NASCAR’s Chase will kick off at Martinsville Speedway with the running of the First Data 500. The short track racing at the half-mile paperclip has been rather unpredictable in recent years. In fact, there have been 8 different race winners in the past 8 visits to Martinsville Speedway. I personally believe there are many reasons why we see so much disparity at Martinsville each year. The track does not really allow speed to show from aero advancements made by race teams that we see at most of the bigger ovals. Additionally track position and strategy are equaling important in giving drivers the opportunity to win a prestigious Ridgeway Grandfather Clock. With so many variables playing into tomorrow’s 500 mile race, we take a cautious approach to identify value in the betting odds and construct a low risk lineup. Take a look as we provide our 2017 First Data 500 race predictions!

I apologize in advance but I am not going to provide a very in depth preview as I usually do this week. I believe that Martinsville is one of the most unpredictable venues on the circuit and I have no problem admitting that I do not have as much confidence as this particular track. In fact, I learned a long time ago to admit when you are in situations where you are not fully confident and I despise handicappers that try to force picks in seemingly unpredictable situations. The problem with handicapping at Martinsville is that this is like a restrictor plate race in so many ways. Drivers are so close on lap times that track position means everything. The fastest car seemingly never wins this race because the moment track position is lost, drivers may never get it back. Additionally the smallest instance of trouble which is the product of a flat tire, unscheduled pit stop, etc, will cost drivers at least 2 laps before they are able to get off pit road. Another item that you cannot handicap is the extreme difficulty towards passing and making up ground during green flag runs. Ground lost on pit road or simply getting caught up behind other cars can foil efforts to move forward. Therefore these variables at Martinsville can often lead to a headache for handicappers.

If you want to heed my advice, I would downgrade bets for a smaller risk approach and try to take drivers that have the best “value.” Currently guys like Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr have excellent value in terms of betting odds. I know Earnhardt has not proved to be capable of winning anywhere this season but Martinsville is one of his best tracks where he owns 1 win and 13 Top 5 finishes in 34 career starts. Currently Earnhardt is listed at over 100-1 odds meaning you could take a measly 1/4 unit size wager and still make a big profit if the #88 had a magical afternoon similar to Jeff Gordon in 2015 during his farewell tour. Elliott and Johnson are additional enticing options worthy of the value angle. Johnson leads all active drivers with 9 victories at Martinsville and looked pretty solid in Happy Hour earlier this afternoon. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott finished 3rd back in the spring and is currently receiving nearly 30-1 odds which is very generous. Remember all of these odds will change abruptly tomorrow following qualifying. Unlike most weekends, the Cup Series will actually qualify tomorrow morning a mere few hours before the green flag. Therefore, odds will likely change with the bias of those qualifying results.

Obviously I am mentioning drivers that have value as potential targets on Sunday. I think the list of drivers that could potentially win extends to 10-15 drivers with legitimate potential opportunities. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch have arguably been the best drivers at Martinsville in recent trips. Both drivers have scored 4 top 5 finishes in the last 5 races. Both Busch and Keselowski have scored 1 victory at Martinsville and are among the favorites entering Sunday’s event. Like Busch and Keselowski, there are several drivers that have scored at least 1 victory at the paperclip which I eluded to earlier with the fact that 8 different winners have took home trophies in the last 8 races. However, it may be surprising to find out that Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Kurt Busch are the only drivers with multiple wins at Martinsville. Behind Johnson’s 9 victories, the elder Busch has a pair of victories, and Hamlin has scored 5 victories at Martinsville with the most recent coming in the spring of 2015.

In the realm of momentum and current form, I am sure the case can be made for Martin Truex Jr. Truex has been winning on a regular basis in recent weeks. However, the majority of his victories have still come at the 1.5 mile tracks and he owns a dismal 20th place average finishing position throughout his career at Martinsville. The same downtrend can be applied to Kyle Larson’s career at Martinsville. Larson has become one of the biggest names in the Cup Series this year challenging both Truex and Kyle Busch on a regular basis. However outside of a 3rd place finish in the spring of 2016, Larson’s best result in 6 other appearances in just 14th. Truex and Larson are still receiving relatively low odds heading into Sunday’s event but I think the risk far outweighs the reward despite the fact both drivers have been among the best in the Cup Series throughout 2017.

If you are looking for a few guys that could surprise on Sunday, I would take strong considerations to the likes of Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, and Matt Kenseth are interesting choices. Kenseth has never won at Martinsville but he has run well during the latter portion of his career. In the last 8 races, Kenseth has posted 3 top 5 finishes and 6 top 10 finishes. If you consider Kenseth’s knack for Loudon and keep speed in the car on long runs, Martinsville shares some similarities with Loudon especially in the essence of drive off and rear grip. Clint Bowyer is a name that I am going to throw out because at one time he was very strong at Martinsville. From 2012-2014, Bowyer never finished worse than 9th and posted 3 straight top 5 finishes. After several races with subpar equipment, Bowyer finished 7th in the spring in his first race with Stewart-Haas Racing and he has looked very solid in practices so far this weekend. Lastly, I would also keep Joey Logano on everyone’s radar. I don’t think anyone could have envisioned the struggles the #22 team has experienced during the 2nd half of the season. I have documented on multiple occasions that Team Penske and the Fords in general have struggled at the speedways this season. While the #22 team has performed worse than his colleagues, tomorrow’s race on the short surface of Martinsville may allow this team to perform as their short track program has been competitive. Considering Logano’s current odds, he should at least be given consideration.

2017 First Data 500 Race Predictions

Get the best NASCAR odds online, the option to parlay race winners, instant sign-up bonus, and several other benefits with 5Dimes

Bet at 5dimes

Jimmie Johnson +1250 (.75 unit)
Chase Elliott +2750 (.5 unit)
Clint Bowyer +4400 (.5 unit)
Dale Earnhardt Jr +11500 (.25 unit)

Two Team Parlay

Denny Hamlin/Brad Keselowski +275 wins First Data 500
Austin Dillon +115 over Kasey Kahne
Risking 1.25 units to win: +880

H2H Matchups and Props

AJ Allmendinger -145 over Paul Menard (2 units)

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