Ready to inhale some race fumes, dodge the flying rubber, and watch the top NASCAR drivers trade paint at Martinsville Raceway?
On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that allows outdoor events to now operate at 30% percent capacity.
Prior to the order, fans couldn’t attend Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway or Richmond Raceway to see races in person because of COVID-19 precautions.
Martinsville Raceway officials didn’t say exactly how many tickets will be available for the upcoming NASCAR race weekend. However, they said the 65,000-seat venue is unlikely to accommodate the full 30%, or 13,000.
Still, this is good news for local race fans as NASCAR gears up for a Tennessee-Virginia swing.
Check out the full upcoming schedule below.
NASCAR hits the dirt in Bristol
NASCAR’s TN-VA tour kicks off this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s a special one as the top-level NASCAR series races on a dirt surface for the first time at the famed Tennessee short track.
— BristolMotorSpeedway (@BMSupdates) March 26, 2021
Both the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Truck Series are in action this weekend. The NASCAR Xfinity Series, meanwhile, is on hiatus for a few weeks.
As no surprise, some vets with past dirt racing experience are the NASCAR betting favorites to win this weekend. The Cup Series’ Food City Dirt Race features 250 laps and 133.25 miles on Sunday (3:30 p.m., FOX).
Kyle Larson is the runaway favorite with +225 to +250 odds to win. He’s followed by Christopher Bell (+550 to +700) and Austin Dillon (+1,000 to +1,200).
Virginia’s Denny Hamlin (+3,000) and Quin Houff (+100,000), meanwhile, face some steep odds.
You can also bet on the drivers to finish in the Top 3, Top 5, and Top 10. Larson’s best respective odds for those bets are -120, -225, and -550.
Bristol will also play host to the Truck Series’ Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt on Saturday (8 p.m., FS1). Larson (+150) is also the favorite to win the 134-lap, 201-mile truck race as he pulls double-duty this weekend.
NASCAR comes to Martinsville Speedway
Following the Bristol race and an off-week for NASCAR, the racing world will turn its attention to Virginia. Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway will host multi-race weekends on consecutive weeks.
Martinsville will host back-to-back night races as both the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series both race under the lights.
The Martinsville schedule includes:
April 10: Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500
- Series: Sprint Cup
- Broadcast: FS1, 7:30 p.m.
- Distance: 500 laps, 263 miles
- Defending champion: Martin Truex Jr.
April 9: Cook Out 250
- Series: Xfinity Series
- Broadcast: FS1, 8 p.m.
- Distance: 250 laps, 131.5 miles
- Defending champion: Terry Labonte (1994)
The Xfinity Series will have two weeks off before the Cook Out 250 at Martinsville. Virginia drives are fairing well in the 2021 Xfinity Series season standings with Jeb Burton in sixth, Brandon Brown in 11th, and Gray Gaulding in 35th.
Hamlin most recently won a Cup Series race in Martinsville in 2015. Houff, meanwhile, will look to improve upon his career-best finish of 33rd (2020 fall race) at the Virginia racetrack.
Cup Series returns to Richmond Raceway
NASCAR’s Tennessee-Virginia spring swing comes to a close on April 18. “America’s premier short track” hosts Cup Series and Truck Series races that weekend.
It’s been a long time coming for Cup Series drivers who dig the .75-mile, D-shaped track. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 version of the race was canceled.
Here’s the schedule for this season:
April 18: Toyota Owners 400
- Series: Sprint Cup
- Broadcast: Fox, 3 p.m.
- Distance: 400 laps, 300 miles
- Defending champion: Martin Truex Jr. (2019)
April 17: ToyotaCare 250
- Series: Truck Series
- Broadcast: FS1, 1:30 p.m.
- Distance: 250 laps, 187.5 miles
- Defending champion: Grant Enfinger
NASCAR odds for the race will be available in the coming weeks.
Hamlin has won three times at the track, most recently in the fall of 2016. Houff’s best finish at the track is 28th.