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2014 Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500

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As we head into the Eliminator round of the Chase we are left with eight championship contenders and three races to determine the final four for Homestead. As we leave the longest track on the circuit with a clutch win by Brad Keselowski to advance to the next round, we head to the shortest track on the circuit in the paper clip at Martinsville. The remaining eight would love to earn a win here in the first race of the three to secure a spot in the final race for the championship at Homestead. A win this week will make for a much less stressful couple of races but earning a win at Martinsville is going to require overcoming 500 grueling laps on a tight track filled with guys looking to earn the win.


Stay Away From

Jeff Gordon 4-1

Only teammate Jimmie Johnson can claim to have a better average finish at this track but one could argue that Jeff has had the most success at Martinsville. In 43 career starts he, along with Johnson, has won eight times. He has also recorded 27 top 5’s while leading a total of 3,590 laps (just 194 shy of Cale Yarborough's record). He also just posted the fastest speed in first practice. So what’s not to like? His 4-1 odds. There just isn’t any value there. Sure only one guy can win the race but 4-1 isn’t worth your time or money, too many things can go wrong. Jeff is certainly capable of winning this week but he has his eyes on that trophy and he won’t do anything to jeopardize his chances of winning another championship in the first race of these three.

Kasey Kahne 30-1

30-1 for Kasey Kahne and that Hendrick car sounds like a good value play but not when you factor in that in 21 career starts at Martinsville he has never won and has posted just three top 5’s. I may not have the best gambling track record but I don’t think betting a guy that has an average finish of 20.24 and has led just 31 laps in 21 starts is a winning formula.

Best Bets

Brad Keselowski 6-1

The value doesn’t feel great to me given the fact that this is a short/tight track that could end up with some people getting back at Brad for the past few races but after going into Talladega knowing he had to win and doing so could provide enough momentum to win him another championship. Doing what he did last week was about as difficult a task in sports and Brad pulled it off. After his several feuds at Charlotte I don’t feel like Brad is getting his due for that accomplishment. Now Charlotte may come back to bite him in the ass this week, but these final races could start to remind us all of when Tony Stewart said Fuck everybody I am winning this fucking championship.

Denny Hamlin 8-1

Hamling hasn’t made things easy on himself but nevertheless he has advanced to the Eliminator 8 round. Now he is licking his lips with a chance to earn his fifth win at Martinsville. Among active drivers only Johnson and Gordon have won more times here and only those two have a better average finish as well. Hamlin should find himself inside the top 10 all day with a chance to make a move late to earn his spot at Homestead. Would you really bet against the Deliverminator in the Eliminator round?... sorry for that.

Matt Kenseth 12-1

Last year Matt made it a habit to earn wins at tracks he wasn’t traditionally good at. Wouldn’t it be fitting for him to earn his first win of this season at a track he has never won at? Last year in this race he finished runner up to Jeff Gordon and this past March he finished 6th, so he has had some success at this place of late. 12-1 is great value for a guy with a monkey on his back the size of the one Brad had at Charlotte.

Tony Stewart 40-1

Fourth on the active wins list at Martinsville… Tony Stewart with three. He also has a monkey on his back having not earned his first win of the season yet and carrying a streak of at least one win in his 15 seasons in Sprint Cup action, a streak that has been carried through three different decades. While the chances of him extending that streak seem bleak at the moment, he knows how to race around Martinsville and 40-1 is beyond incredible value for Smoke. His history in NASCAR and at Martinsville make him a Best Bet instead of strictly being a value bet.

Best Value Bets

Clint Bowyer 18-1

Bowyer is arguably the best driver at Martinsville to have never recorded a win, so at 18-1 you are getting someone who knows how to wheel his ride around this track but hasn’t been able to get over the hump and win a race. He has been so good at this place that only the top three active wins leaders at Martinsville have better average finishes than Bowyer. With nothing to race for other than wins at this point, Bowyer should be looking to get that first win of the season and his first of his career at Martinsville.

Kyle Larson 30-1

It’s just a matter of “when” not “if” with this kid. He had a rough go of it back in March here and had engine issues in his only other start at Martinsville but he has come a long ways this season. He is going to be the next big thing and I’d be willing to bet he wins one of these final four races. It might come this weekend because this kid can flat out drive.

Ryan Newman 35-1

So for 35-1 you get a guy that has won here before and hasn’t had his championship hopes slashed yet? Maybe the championship part of it makes him a little hesitant to pull a big move to go for the win but he will be around late and give you a shot at really cashing in. Only Carl Edwards has longer odds to win the championship and while I’m sure he doesn’t view himself as a longshot, he has had some of the longest odds in every round of the Chase thus far and wouldn’t it be fun to see someone like Newman be the first to secure a spot at Homestead?

My Pick

Jimmie Johnson 6-1

We won’t see a seventh championship out of that #48 machine this year, but if you think they are done winning races you are out of your mind. Unfortunately for the #48 Martinsville came one week too late for his championship hopes. That being said he is arguably the best at this track and in the past five races at Martinsville, Johnson has won twice and finished inside the top 5 four times, good for an average finish of 4.2. Johnson has a chance to make everyone question the new format by racing pissed off and winning these final four races.


Friday, October 24, 2014

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