There are just eight drivers left in the Chase for this season’s NASCAR Sprint Cup as the Eliminator Round gets underway this Sunday with the running of the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The green flag for this race is set to wave at 10:30 a.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Brad Keselowski staved-off elimination from the Chase with a huge win last week at Talladega. Matt Kenseth secured his spot in the next round by taking second and Clint Bowyer finished third. My value pick for last week’s race was Denny Hamlin at 12/1 and while he raced well enough to remain in the field of eight, he could only manage an 18th-place finish at Talladega after starting all the way back in 38th.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win Sunday’s race along with my top value NASCAR pick based on odds provided by Bovada.
Jeff Gordon has posed a victory at Dover and second-place finishes at both Chicago and Charlotte in the first six races of this season’s Chase and this week he comes into Martinsville as Bovada’s 4/1 favorite to win on Sunday. The No. 24 car made it into the Eliminator Round on the strength of turning in consistent runs week-in and week-out, which adds some solid value to these lofty odds. Gordon’s recent performance at this track adds even more value with a victory in this race last season. His average finishing position at Martinsville over the course of his storied career is an impressive 7.0.
The second-favorite on Bovada’s board at 5/1 betting odds made an earlier than expected exit from this year’s Chase, but you can never count Jimmie Johnson out of any race he runs. The No. 48 car picked the worst possible time to fall into a slump, which makes me question the true value in these odds a bit given the team’s current run of three straight finishes outside of the top 15. As far as Johnson’s past performance at Martinsville, he has to be a legitimate favorite to win this week with two checkered flags and two additional top-five finishes in his last four trips around this track in a Sprint Cup event.
Both Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick are next on the list at 6/1, but I would go with Harvick to round-out my top three favorites to win this race. The No. 4 car has had a fantastic Chase with a victory at Charlotte and two other top-five finishes in the first six races. Going all the way back to the Brickyard 500 in late July, this team has finished in the top 10 in nine of 13 Sprint Cup races. Harvick posted a sixth-place finish in last year’s race and he finished seventh in the first race at Martinsville this season. Some value is lost in the fact that over the course of his career, he has only crossed the finish line first in one Sprint Cup race at this track
Top Value Pick
Looking at Bovada’s list of NASCAR betting odds for this race as well as the list of the eight drivers still left in the Chase, I am going with Matt Kenseth at 12/1 as my top value pick to win this race. Getting to Victory Lane this season has been a mighty tall task for the No. 20 car. Despite the fact that the team is still looking for its first checkered flag of the year, it has proven to be very capable of putting itself in prime position to win with 12 top-five finishes this season. Kenseth finished sixth in the first race at Martinsville this season and he ended-up second in last year’s