NASCAR Martinsville 2022: Odds, drivers, how to watch, preview, picks for the Blue-Emu 400


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For anyone who is drawn to the sight of fast cars and those who drive them, Saturday nights in the spring and summer mean nights spent watching racing at the local short track. In no place is this truer than Southern Virginia and the Carolinas, the very places where NASCAR racing came to be and where some of the most iconic short tracks in the country are located — including Martinsville Speedway.

For the first Saturday night race of the 2022 season, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400. Nestled in the heart of a small Southern Virginia town, Martinsville Speedway represents a link through time and an unbroken line that runs through NASCAR history: the half-mile paperclip is the only track that remains from NASCAR’s original schedule in 1949, and has seen all generations of drivers take the checkered flag, from Red Byron in 1949 to Alex Bowman in 2021.

How to watch the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville

Date: Saturday, April 9
Location: Martinsville Speedway — Ridgeway, Virginia
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1
Stream: fuboTV (try for free)

What to watch

  • For many years, the expectation for drivers when they arrive at Martinsville is that they will have 500 laps to figure the place out and put themselves in position to win at the finish. This year, that’s no longer the case. Beginning in 2022, Martinsville’s annual spring race has been shortened from 500 to 400 laps, shaving 100 laps off the race’s distance with respect to the race’s nighttime start in a small town. For drivers and teams, the natural consequence of this is less time to ride around, figure out how to gain track position, and be conservative until the time is right. And for fans, this likely means more on-track action and aggression in a shorter frame of time.
  • When he took the checkered flag last weekend at Richmond, Denny Hamlin, 41, finally snapped a 12-race streak of winners under the age of 30 and got the greybeards back in Victory Lane. With that domino having fallen, all eyes are now suddenly on which veteran drivers could be next to win. That includes Kevin Harvick, who now carries a 50-race winless streak into Martinsvile, but who also narrowly finished second to Hamlin last week. Based on both Richmond and recent history at Martinsville, Martin Truex Jr. will also be a driver to watch. Truex has won the last two spring races at Martinsville, and he led 80 laps last week at Richmond before finishing fourth. Hamlin leads all active drivers with five career wins at Martinsville, and Truex has won three of the last five races at this track dating back to the fall of 2019.
  • The past two weeks have seen a renewed and spirited debate over the ethics of moving another driver out of the way in order to win. Two weeks ago at Circuit of the Americas, A.J. Allmendinger laid the bumper to Ross Chastain on the last lap, only for Chastain to lay it to him harder. Then, last week’s Xfinity Series race at Richmond saw Ty Gibbs run John Hunter Nemechek — his own teammate — up the racetrack in the final corner to take the win. It’s interesting that this pattern has developed leading into Martinsville, the perfect place for the chrome horn, the bump-and-run, or the bump-and-dump. Last fall’s race was decided by just that, as Alex Bowman got into and spun Denny Hamlin while the two were racing for the win in the closing laps.

Pick to win, complete odds for the race

(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)

Denny Hamlin (+600) — After his win last week, doubling down on Hamlin feels like taking low-hanging fruit. But the fact is, Hamlin is one of the very best at Martinsville and could have easily won both races here last year. In the spring, Hamlin led a race-high 276 laps before settling for third. Then in the fall, Hamlin led 103 laps and was in the lead with less than 10 to go before his now-infamous run-in with Alex Bowman.

Since the latter half of 2019, Hamlin’s tendency has been to get wins in clusters, as he has won two races within a four-race span on five different occasions. Hamlin hasn’t had back-to-back wins since 2012, but that could very well and very easily change this weekend at one of his best racetracks. As for the rest of the odds:

  • Martin Truex Jr. +450
  • Denny Hamlin +600
  • Chase Elliott +700
  • Ryan Blaney +750
  • Kyle Busch +750
  • Kyle Larson +800
  • William Byron +900
  • Joey Logano +1000
  • Alex Bowman +1500
  • Christopher Bell +1700
  • Kevin Harvick +2500
  • Ross Chastain +3000
  • Brad Keselowski +3000
  • Chase Briscoe +3000
  • Tyler Reddick +3000
  • Kurt Busch +5000
  • A.J. Allmendinger +5000
  • Aric Almirola +5000
  • Erik Jones +6000
  • Daniel Suarez +6500
  • Bubba Wallace +7000
  • Austin Cindric +7500
  • Austin Dillon +10000
  • Cole Custer +17500
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +20000
  • Harrison Burton +25000
  • Justin Haley +25000
  • Chris Buescher +25000
  • Ty Dillon +50000
  • Michael McDowell +100000
  • Todd Gilliland +100000
  • Corey Lajoie +150000
  • JJ Yeley +250000
  • Josh Bilicki +500000
  • BJ McLeod +500000
  • Cody Ware +500000