Will Martinsville Be Martin Truex Jr.’s Ticket To NASCAR Championship #4?

Posted on October 29, 2020 - Last Updated on November 19, 2020

As the 2020 NASCAR season hits the homestretch with the Xfinity 500, Martin Truex Jr. must sure be happy to see Martinsville Speedway.

After all, his hopes for his second NASCAR Cup Series championship rest on Sunday’s race (2 p.m. NBC) in Virginia. So, too, do the hopes of six other drivers who are trying to keep their playoff spot.

However, don’t be surprised if Treux is a frequent sight on your TV screens this weekend as Martinsville Speedway hosts three days of playoff racing. The veteran NASCAR Cup Series driver is going for his third-straight win at Martinsville.

In the penultimate race of the pandemic-affected 2020 Cup season, eight drivers are still alive in the Chase for the Cup. However, that list will be cut in half following Sunday’s race at the famed .526-mile short track.

The NASCAR traveling circus arrived late in Virginia this week. After all, Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 in Texas didn’t conclude until Wednesday night due to days of weather delays.

This week, though, Virginia will be the epicenter of NASCAR. In addition to the Cup Series’ Xfinity 500, NASCAR’s other two top series hit the “Half Mile Of Mayhem.”

The NASCAR Truck Series goes under the lights on Friday with the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200. And, in another penultimate 2020 race, the NASCAR Xfinity Series gets the spotlight with the Draft Top 250.

Schedule for Xfinity 500 at Martinsville

Three days. Three races. Three playoff pictures. And one of NASCAR’s most action-packed tracks.

All of NASCAR’s top series host races this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The stakes are big for each one as each series hosts its next-to-last race of the season.

Here’s the full schedule:

NASCAR Truck Series: NASCAR Hall of Fame 200

Date: Friday, Oct. 30 1 at 8 p.m.
TV: FS1 (pre-race show starts at 7 p.m.)
Distance: 200 laps, 105.2 miles

NASCAR Xfinity Series: Draft Top 250

Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 at 3:30 p.m.
TV: NBC
Distance: 250 laps, 131.5 miles

NASCAR Cup Series: Xfinity 500

Date: Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m.
TV: NBC (pre-race show starts at 1:30 p.m.)
Distance: 500 laps, 263 miles

Fans will be permitted to attend this weekend’s races. However, social-distancing measures are in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, Martinsville Speedway officials had to adjust the seating configuration. Additionally, they had to close/restrict some race-day attractions.

For the track’s full visitor guide for this weekend, check out MartinsvilleSpeedway.com.

Road to 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4

Eight drivers are still alive for a 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season championship. After Sunday’s pivotal race, though, only four will remain.

Then, the final four will race at Phoenix Raceway, and the best finisher is the season champ.

Currently, the only racer who’s guaranteed a playoff spot at Phoenix is Joey Logano. The 2018 champ earned his ticket to the final four with a win at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 18.

The others either need a win at Martinsville or be in the top four in points once the race is over. Those drivers include other former champs: Kevin Harvick (2014), Brad Keselowski (2012), and Martin Treux Jr. (2017). Other drivers include Virginia native Denny Hamlin, as well as Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, and Kurt Busch.

Here are the latest 2020 NASCAR Cup Series postseason standings:

PlaceDriverCutoff
1. Joey Logano1 win
2. Kevin Harvick+42
3. Denny Hamlin+27
4. Brad Keselowski+25
5. Chase Elliott-25
6. Alex Bowman-25
7. Martin Truex Jr.-36
8. Kurt Busch-81

However, none of those hopefuls has had the type of recent success that Truex has achieved at “The Paperclip.” In fact, Truex has won the past two Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, including the 2020 Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 and the 2019 First Data 500. Not only that, but he led 596 of the 1,000 laps run in those races.

Truex currently sits in seventh place, and he’s 36 points below the cutoff mark. He may need to make it three in a row at Martinsville to ensure his spot next week at Phoenix.

And, at least as far as the oddsmakers are concerned, he has a very good chance to do just that.

Xfinity 500 betting favorites

It’s probably no surprise that Truex is the favorite to emerge victorious at Sunday’s Xfinity 500.

As of Thursday afternoon at DraftKings, Truex’ odds to win the race sat at a field-best +325. In fact, oddsmakers expect him to finish so well that you can’t even get plus money on him to finish in the top 3 (-106) or top 10 (-670).

At those odds, here’s what a $100 winning bet on Truex would net you in return:

  • Win (+325): $325
  • Top 3 (-106): $94.34
  • Top 10 (-670): $14.93

In fact, all eight playoff drivers find themselves among the top 10 favorites to win the race.

Here are the full DraftKings odds for the Xfinity 500:

DriverTo winTop 3Top 10
Martin Truex Jr.+325-106-670
Denny Hamlin+550+155-400
Brad Keselowski+550+155-400
Kyle Busch+850+240-278
Chase Elliott+850+240-278
Joey Logano+850+240-278
Ryan Blaney+900+250-265
Kevin Harvick+1000+275-240
Alex Bowman+2500+550-122
Kurt Busch+2800+650-109

2020 NASCAR season champ?

Kevin Harvick is the current favorite to win the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Because of his win at Kansas earlier this month, he’s guaranteed a spot in the final four next week.

Harvick is available at +160 odds to win the season title.

The field’s two biggest longshots – Bowman (+6000) and Busch (+10000) – likely need a victory on Sunday to avoid elimination. That fact is reflected in their long odds.

Here’s the full list:

Driver2020 Championship Odds
Kevin Harvick+160
Denny Hamlin+245
Brad Keselowski+325
Joey Logano+350
Martin Truex Jr.+1400
Chase Elliott+2500
Alex Bowman+6000
Kurt Busch+10000

Who eventually races for a title next week at the NASCAR Cup Series Championship in Phoenix? Who will have a chance to race to become the newest Cup Series grand champion?

Race fans will need to tune into Sunday’s race in Martinsville to find out.

Photo by AP / Steve Helber
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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