After a week off from racing, the NASCAR Cup Series is rested, rejuvenated and ready to take on “The Paperclip” under the lights in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway (resumes on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Want the inside scoop? Here’s what you need to know ahead of the race.
Bristol winner Joey Logano starts his Team Penske Ford right where he left off, securing the Busch Pole Award for the Saturday night showdown. Joining Logano on the front row is points leader Denny Hamlin, followed by William Byron and Ryan Blaney — both winners already this season — in row two. Chase Elliott, the most recent Martinsville winner, rounds out the top five. Check out the full starting lineup.
BETTING ODDS, ONES TO WATCH
Martin Truex Jr. leads this weekend’s NASCAR betting odds after dominating two of the last three races at the southern Virginia track. Truex opens at 11-2 with Hamlin hot on his heels at 23-4, followed by Elliott (6-1), Brad Keselowski (6-1) and Logan0 (7-1), who each have track wins under their belt.
Though winless here, Ryan Blaney (8-1) and Matt DiBenedetto (66-1) present great value alongside the weekend favorites. Two-time winner Kurt Busch (30-1) might have a say, as well.
Blaney finished runner-up in both 2020 Martinsville races, while both of DiBenedetto’s two career top 10s at the track have come in the last two trips and the elder Busch has three consecutive finishes of ninth or better.
Should you side with the sleepers? See the full list of BetMGM Martinsville odds.
TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES
General admission tickets for Saturday’s Blue-Emu 500 at Martinsville have sold out. However, travel packages and tickets for the fall race may still be available. For more information, visit the Martinsville event site.
SHORT TRACK SETUP
The NASCAR rules package for short tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to set a target of 750 horsepower. The cars will use a reduced downforce package with a shorter spoiler, a shorter splitter overhang and other aerodynamic changes.
Back to the radials we go, with each team getting nine sets of Goodyear Eagle Short Track Radials for the 263-mile race on the 0.526-mile oval.
Drivers will be tasked with tire management on a mixed surface of asphalt straightaways and concrete corners. For the relatively flat track, recommended inflation is 10 psi for the left side tires, 23 psi for the right front and 22 psi for the right rear.
TRACK FACTS, RECENT TRENDS
— Martinsville Speedway is the only track to host a race in every season of NASCAR‘s existence and is the only remaining active “Charter Track” on the current schedule.
— Saturday’s Cup Series race is the 145th race at Martinsville but just the second season that it will be a scheduled night race.
— The last five short track races were won by five different drivers, most recently Chase Elliott during the 2020 Cup Series Playoffs.
— After going winless in his first 80 premier series starts, Martin Truex Jr. has won four of the last 10 short track races.
— There have only been 12 first-time winners at Martinsville and the last was Ricky Craven in October 2001.
Source: Racing Insights
Another week means another chance to beat the competition and show off your NASCAR instincts. Take control of your very own team each week with NASCAR Fantasy Live — it‘s free to play! Learn everything you need to know at fantasygames.nascar.com.
The 2021 fantasy points leaders are Denny Hamlin (327), Joey Logano (262) and Martin Truex Jr. (247).
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.
New for this season, NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.