2021 Xfinity 500 Race Preview - Free Picks

October 31, 2:00 PM EDT

Just one race remains before next Sunday's championship finale at Phoenix, which means one final opportunity to decide the final four drivers that will race for a championship. Currently, Kyle Larson is the only driver locked into the championship race at Phoenix courtesy of his late-season dominance, which includes three straight victories in the last three races. For the rest of the sports biggest names like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex, and even the reigning Cup Series Champion by way of Chase Eliott; all of those drivers will have to race their way into the championship finale in this Sunday's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

In regards to the championship picture outside of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott is the only driver that is likely "comfortable" from a points situation barring disaster. The rest of the championship contenders will need either a big points day or need a victory to keep their championship hopes alive. For bettors, Martinsville Speedway provides an atypical opportunity. I say atypical because Martinsville Speedway is genuinely unlike any other track of its kind among NASCAR' current venues. The half-mile paperclip is extremely flat, which leads to rhythmic style driving that focuses on braking and corner exit. Instead of observing in-season performance trends or evaluating rules package performances, handicapping Martinsville should be primarily based around track history.

For bettors, one name has emerged as the present-day king of Martinsville, and that is the guy named "Martin." I'm speaking of Martin Truex Jr, who has put together three wins in the last four races, which includes the Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 back in April of this year. Truex leads all drivers in all major categories, which includes average running position (4.8), average finishing position (6.6), fastest laps, and laps led over the past five races at Martinsville. With that being said, Truex has not exactly been great in recent weeks throughout the playoffs and needs a victory to move to Phoenix as a championship contender. Luckily for the fans of the #19, Truex has performed best on the short tracks this season and should be still considered one of the top threats going into Sunday's Xfinity 500.

While Truex will be a top contender, he does not provide much betting value at just 3.5 to 1 odds. I'm not sure if any driver deserves to be at 3.5 to 1 odds on a weekly basis, and while prior stats will point to Truex's dominance; we must keep in mind that Martinsville is still one of those tracks where track position will be very important meaning mistakes, restarts, and strategy could all come into play. As a result, I am looking for betting options that produce more value which is still supported by the track history stats.

Among the drivers at the top of my list this week includes the teammates of Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. Blaney has never won at Martinsville but has been extremely strong, finishing in the top 5 in 4 of the last five races, which includes runner-up finishes in 2 of the last three races. Meanwhile, Keselowski is a two-time Martinsville winner that has finished inside the top 5 in eight of the last ten races, which is a very underrated stat for a short track where so many things can go wrong. As a result, Keselowski and Blaney both provide the stats and the betting value to be considered as legitimate options this week.

Horne's Free Bets

*Odds courtesy of Bovada*

  • Ryan Blaney +800
  • Brad Keselowski +1000

Be sure to follow me at NASCARWagers.com for all additional sleepers, H2H bets, and further race picks for this weekend's races at Martinsville Speedway