2022 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Picks
Last week’s Richmond race brought a lot more excitement than I thought. Martin Truex Jr. was my top pick, and he had the car to beat. He led 80 laps, but pit strategy led to a fourth-place finish.
Denny Hamlin was among my top picks at Richmond, and he came through to score his first victory of 2022.
We’re staying in Virginia as the Cup Series heads to Martinsville. The race will shift from 500 to 400 laps, but there won’t be any shortage of excitement. Here are my top picks for the Cup Series race at Martinsville.
Chase Elliott (+700)
I don’t know what happened to Chase Elliott at Richmond. He finished sixth in both stages and appeared to have a car capable of winning. In the final stage, his car went away, leading to a 14th-place finish.
That was a disappointing result, but Elliott still holds the point lead. Elliott has been a master on road courses, but his best oval track is Martinsville.
He nearly picked up his first career Cup Series victory at Martinsville in 2017, but Denny Hamlin turned him with less than five laps to go. Check out Elliott’s last six races at Martinsville.
|Finishing Position||Laps Led (of 500)|
His bad results are misleading. He came from the back to the top five before an issue ended his day in the Fall 2019 race. He had the dominant car in last year’s playoff race, but Brad Keselowski turned him with less than 50 laps to go.
Elliott’s victory in the 2020 playoff race clinched him a spot in the Championship 4. He went on to win the championship.
His 2022 speed shows that he can score another Martinsville victory.
Ryan Blaney (+700)
The Next-Gen car has evened the playing field in the Cup Series. No one has emerged as the championship favorite, but it’s hard to argue with Ryan Blaney being the best driver.
Blaney’s 334 laps led and three stage wins lead the Cup Series. He is tied with Chase Elliott for the points lead. It’s surprising that Blaney hasn’t won this season, but that could change at Martinsville.
Check out his numbers in his last four Martinsville races.
|Finishing Position||Laps Led (of 500)|
Last year’s playoff race was an outlier. Blaney’s car was off the whole race, finishing outside the top 10. He was one of the top contenders in the previous three races.
He finished runner-up in both the 2020 races. Blaney and Denny Hamlin had the best cars in last year’s Spring race. Blaney had the better car on long runs, but he had a pit road penalty on the final pit stop.
It seems like Martinsville owes him one. Blaney has been close numerous times, but something gets in the way. He would love to pick up his first victory of 2022 and at Martinsville in the same race.
William Byron (+1000)
Last season, William Byron used his consistency to stay near the top of the standings. This season, we’re seeing Byron lead laps and compete for wins. He won two weeks ago at Atlanta, and nearly did it again at Richmond.
Byron used strategy to take the lead in the final stage. He was in position to score his second victory, but Denny Hamlin had fresher tires, passing Byron with less than five laps to go. Byron would love to avenge that defeat at Martinsville.
He has only led nine laps at Martinsville, but let’s look at his last five finishes.
- 2019: 2nd
- 2020: 8th
- 2020: 35th
- 2021: 4th
- 2021: 5th
Byron has been in contention, but we haven’t seen him take the next step. Well, that’s what we said about his 2021 season. He has taken that next step in 2022. Who’s to say he won’t do the same at Martinsville.
It’ll help that Byron will race in Thursday night’s Truck Series race. I wrote my top Truck Series picks for Martinsville before Byron landed a spot in the race. He should be one of the top contenders.
A great performance should carry over to the Cup Series.
Brad Keselowski (+3300)
Brad Keselowski’s tenure with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing is off to a rough start. He hasn’t scored a top 10 finish since the Daytona 500 and hasn’t been in contention for a top-five finish.
A few weeks ago, NASCAR gave Keselowski a 100-point penalty for an illegal modification. Considering his 2022 performance, the penalty essentially means he needs a win to make the playoffs.
Keselowski crashed out of the Spring race at Martinsville last season. Not including that result, check out his last 12 races at the track.
- 2 wins
- 10 top-five finishes
- 11 top 10 finishes
- 720 laps led
- 3.7 average finish
You could say Keselowski has had much success at Martinsville. His performance in the 2019 Spring race was one of the most dominant in track history. He led 446 of 500 laps en route to the victory.
It’s hard to trust Keselowski right now, but it’s hard to ignore his value. Martinsville caters to the more aggressive drivers, and we should see that with Keselowski. If he has speed, I wouldn’t count him out for Saturday night’s race.
Who Will Win the 2022 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400?
Chase Elliott has been running strong in 2022, but we’re waiting for him to compete for wins. I can’t think of a better track for him to do that then Martinsville.
Elliott has been great at the track in his Cup Series career. He has led plenty of laps and competed for multiple wins. I’m expecting more of the same this weekend.
This will be the first night race of the 2022 Cup Series season. Fans can tune in on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Make sure you check out my top Xfinity Series picks for more betting opportunities.