2018 First Data 500 Odds & Preview

2018 First Data 500 Odds & Preview

Written by on October 26, 2018

NASCAR’s chase for the Monster Energy Cup is down to eight drivers as the series shifts to the short track at Martinsville on Sunday for the First Data 500. Kyle Busch is your NASCAR odds favorite with a start time of 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

2018 First Data 500 Odds & Preview

  • When: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Martinsville Speedway, a 0.526-mile concrete and asphalt oval in Ridgeway, Virginia
  • Distance: 500 laps, or 263 miles
  • Radio: MRN
  • Live Stream: NBC Sports Live

Track Facts

  • Number of previous races: 139
  • First Cup race: September 25, 1949, won by Red Byron
  • Last Cup race: March 26, 2018, won by Clint Bowyer
  • Won from pole: 21, most recently by Jimmie Johnson in 2013
  • Won from top-5 starting position: 72 times in 135 races (53%). The starting position of the race winner is unknown for 4 races
  • Won from top-10 starting position: 100 times (74%)
  • Won from 21st or worse starting position: 7 times (5%)
  • Worst starting spot for race winner: 36th, by Kurt Busch in 2002
  • Most laps led: 493, by Fred Lorenzen in 1964
  • Fewest laps led by a race winner: 4, by John Andretti in 1999
  • Fastest race: 82.223 mph by Jeff Gordon in 1996
  • Fastest qualifying speed: 100.201 mph by Joey Logano in 2014
  • Most lead changes: 33 in 2014
  • Closest finish: Jimmie Johnson’s .065 second margin over Jeff Gordon in 2007
  • Most caution flags: 21 in 2007

2018 Analysis & Favorite

This half-mile track is the shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series. It was built in 1947 by H. Clay Earles and stands as one of the first oval tracks in NASCAR.

Chase Elliott won last week at Kansas. Elliott took charge in the Hollywood Casino 400 when Kevin Harvick was hit with a pit road speeding penalty on his last green-flag pit stop on Lap 214 of 267. After inheriting the lead when Brad Keselowski came to pit road on Lap 224, Elliott stayed out front the rest of the way. Elliott crossed the finish line .903 seconds ahead of Busch, as Kyle Larson — needing a victory to advance to the Round of 8 — came up short with a desperation charge that carried him to a third-place finish.

It took 99 races for Elliott to get his first win and just 10 races later he now has three. He’s the first driver to get his first three career wins in the same season since Carl Edwards in 2005. It’s been done only eight times in the modern era (since 1972).

Kansas was the site of the third and final race in the Round of 12. The four drivers lowest in the standings were eliminated from the postseason and the ability to compete for a championship in Miami. The four drivers eliminated from the postseason after Kansas were: Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Larson, and Alex Bowman.

There are just four races left in the season heading to Martinsville and then the series continues on to Texas Motor Speedway and ISM (Phoenix) Raceway before the finale at Miami. Kyle Busch is the +300 favorite this week. The No. 18 Toyota won at Richmond in the opening elimination round of this 10-race playoff and he has every intention of getting into the four-driver field for the season-ending championship race.

Busch is the defending champion here. Busch, who ranks first in Central Speed on short tracks, hasn’t finished worse than fifth at Martinsville since 2014. In his 2016 win, he led 352 of 500 laps and in this race a season ago, he led 184 laps. Busch has finished either first or second in the last three Martinsville races.

What about the Others?

Martin Truex Jr. is +500. Truex Jr. has never won a Cup short track race in his career. He’s made 25 Martinsville starts but seems to be gaining on it with a second and fourth on the board in his last two starts.

Martin Truex Jr is the favorite to win the 2018 NASCAR First Data 500.

Clint Bowyer and Keselowski are each +600. Back in March, Bowyer won at Martinsville to end a 190-race skid of visiting Victory Lane. The victory marked Bowyer’s sixth top five in 25 starts at the paper-clip-shaped speedway. He will try to become the first driver since Denny Hamlin in 2010 to sweep Martinsville after his spring win. He has three straight top-10s coming into Sunday. Keselowski has a string of five straight top-10 finishes coming into Sunday’s race that includes a win.

Elliott is +700 to win again. Elliott was in line for his first career Cup Series win in this race last season until Hamlin bumped him with three laps to go — Busch went on to win in overtime. Elliott has been third and ninth in the last two spring races.

Joey Logano is +1000. Since finishing 37th in the 2015 Martinsville race, he’s been 11th, ninth, fourth, 24th and sixth. Logano is a near-lock to start in the top 10 on Sunday. He’s qualified in the top six in each of the last 11 races and has four poles in that span.

Could Jimmie Johnson be good value at +3000? JJ is having a terrible year but has 11 career Martinsville wins so he has to be in the discussion. Only four races remain for Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus on the No. 48 team and Martinsville has always been a special place for Hendrick Motorsports.

Last 10 Winners

  • 2017: Kyle Busch
  • 2016: Jimmie Johnson
  • 2015: Jeff GOrdon
  • 2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr
  • 2013: Jeff Gordon
  • 2012: Jimmie Johnson
  • 2011: Tony Stewart
  • 2010: Denny Hamlin
  • 2009: Denny Hamlin
  • 2008: Jimmie Johnson