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Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
|Martin Truex Jr.
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Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 will be contested over 400 laps (210.4 miles)—shortened from the traditional 500 laps—with stage breaks scheduled after 80 and 180 laps. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of this event.
We thought last weekend at Richmond might be the right time for a Toyota driver to score the car maker’s first victory of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.
We had the right manufacturer and organization—but the wrong driver. Playing tire strategy to perfection, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin charged to victory, passing then-leader William Byron for the top spot with five laps left.
But our pick, Martin Truex Jr., was close. He was chasing Byron for a potential victory before Hamlin and Kevin Harvick blew by him to take first and second. Truex came home fourth.
On a .526-mile Martinsville track where tire strategy won’t play as big a role as it did at Richmond, we pick Truex to claim the grandfather clock trophy. He’s listed at +550 via DraftKings Sportsbook, and we think he’s a righteous choice at that number.
Not only is Truex the defending race winner, but he also has gone to Victory Lane in three of the last five events at the track.
After the fourth race of the season, at Phoenix, Joey Logano led the NASCAR Cup Series standings, despite remaining winless and posting an eighth-place result in that event.
Since then, Logano has faded to fifth in the standings, losing two positions after finishing 17th, one lap down in last Sunday’s seventh race of the campaign, at Richmond.
Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 gives Logano a chance to pick up his first victory of the season. He enters the race on a streak of five straight top-10 finishes at Martinsville.
He has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last eight starts there, including his lone win at the track in the 2018 Playoff race.
Typically, racing at Martinsville Speedway is an acquired taste. There are those who embrace it and those who never find the necessary speed at the tight, technical short track.
This season, however, brings a new set of variables to the equation. NASCAR’s new Next Gen race car, with its much larger brake package, will allow drivers to charge the corners to a much greater degree than ever before.
The race has been shortened from 500 to 400 laps, and for the first time, it will take place under the lights. Traditional Martinsville mavens, like last Sunday’s Richmond winner Denny Hamlin (+900 at Martinsville via DraftKings), should still be contenders, but the new variables could also open the door for a driver like Christopher Bell (+1400 to win).
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|Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 Information
|Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 NASCAR Cup Series race
|Saturday, April 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
|How to Watch
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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