NASCAR Playoffs: Xfinity 500 preview and upset picks
After nearly 72 hours of rain delays, the NASCAR Cup Series drivers finally completed the Autotrader Echopark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday, with Kyle Busch taking home his long-awaited first checkered flag of 2020. But there’s no rest for the weary as the Cup Series moves to Martinsville this Sunday (2:00 p.m., NBC) for the Xfinity 500.
Martin Truex Jr. – second to his Joe Gibbs teammate at Texas – was installed as the +275 favorite for Sunday’s race. He’s won two straight events at Martinsville and he could really use another victory in order to clinch a Championship 4 berth in this cutoff race. However, there appears to be better value on the board – here are our top three selections.
Nascar Cup Series: Xfinity 500
Sun, November 1 2020, 6:00 PM
Martin Truex Jr.
Denny Hamlin (+550)
Denny Hamlin has won five career races at Martinsville, but he’s seeking his first triumph on this circuit since 2015. It’s not like he hasn’t been driving well here though.
Hamlin has three Top 5s in his last four visits to "The Paperclip." His 1,566 laps led on this course are second among active drivers behind only Jimmie Johnson (2,933).
After a decent ninth-place result at Texas, Hamlin will roll off the grid in fourth.
Brad Keselowski (+600)
Brad Keselowski won’t have to worry about where he stands points-wise if he grabs the checkered flag at Martinsville on Sunday.
Before Truex reeled off two straight wins at "The Paperclip," Keselowski was NASCAR’s most recent winner at this course. That effort was one of the more dominant in recent memory as he won both stages and led 446 out of 500 laps. The No. 2 Ford driver has four straight Top 5s at Martinsville and enters this race off two straight Top 10 performances at Kansas and Texas.
Keselowski will begin his afternoon on the pole.
Ryan Blaney (+800)
Ryan Blaney has had a hot hand of late despite being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. His fourth-place finish at Texas was his fourth Top 10 in his last five races (45 laps led). He could potentially break through for a victory at Martinsville, one of his favorite tracks.
Blaney has yet to win at this half-mile circuit in nine tries, but he has four Top 5s here in his last five visits. He’s led 179 laps in that span.
The No. 12 Ford will begin the race in 10th place.