NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series returns to action this Sunday with the running of this year’s STP 500 in the first race of the season at Martinsville Speedway.
The green flag for this event is set to wave at 1 p.m. (ET) and all the racing action will be broadcast nationally on FOX Sports.
Two weeks ago in the Auto Club 400 out in California, Jimmie Johnson finished first to become the first two-time winner in the Sprint Cup series this season. Kevin Harvick was right in the mix at second and Denny Hamlin rounded-out the Top 3.
The following is a look at my top valued favorite, contender and longshot to win Sunday’s race at Martinsville based on betting odds as provided by Bovada.
Top Valued Favorite
Denny Hamlin will be looking to parlay his solid run at Fontana into a win this Sunday as a +650 third favorite on TopBet’s current betting board. He started the new season on a strong note by winning the Daytona 500 and through the first five Sprint Cup races on this year’s schedule the No. 11 car has made its way into the Top 5 in three of those events. The main reason why I am high on Hamlin as my top-value favorite in this race is a stellar track record at Martinsville. He comes into this year’s STP 500 as the defending champion and over the course of his career he has laid claim to five Sprint Cup victories here as part of an average finishing position of 8.0.
Top Valued Contender
Kurt Busch remains the type of driver that has the capability to win on any track in the Sprint Cup series and this week I like his chances get it done as my top-valued contender at +1500 betting odds. He is still looking for his first win this season, but the No. 41 car has been in the mix almost every race with four Top 10 runs including a fourth-place finish at Atlanta. Martinsville has not been one of Kurt’s favorite tracks over the course of his Sprint Cup career, but he did win this race in the 2014 season.
Top Valued Longshot
Chase Elliott has taken over the reins for Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 car this season and he continues to show his potential as the next big thing in Sprint Cup racing with three Top 10 finishes in his first five runs. He is still trying to crack the Top 5 after placing sixth two weeks ago at Fontana, but I am willing to make a small play with my sports picks on his +3300 betting odds that he makes that leap all the way to the Winner’s Circle at Martinsville. That may be a tremendous leap of faith considering he finished 38th in this race last season in one of his five Sprint Cup events in 2014, but that was behind the wheel of a different car racing for a different team.
Betting Odds For Other Notable Drivers
The top two drivers in the Sprint Cup standings are also one and two on the betting board for this race with Jimmie Johnson listed as a +400 favorite followed by Kevin Harvick at +600. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kyle Busch joins Hamlin as a +650 third-favorite and Joey Logano is next on the list at +700. Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski are a pair of solid contenders at +800 betting odds and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s odds to win for the first time this year have been set at +1000.