NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 Race at Martinsville: Preview and Prediction

Published 04/10/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Feb 28, 2021; Homestead, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) and Christopher Bell (20) lead the field to start the Dixie Vodka 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


The NASCAR Cup Series returns to short-track racing in Saturday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway. The threat of rain looms large, even more after Friday’s Xfinity Series race was postponed midway, but the drivers will go for glory in a crucial race whenever the race gets underway.

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After seven different winners emerged in the first seven races, every upcoming race gains more importance with the playoffs in mind. The ‘regular NASCAR drivers’ will look to make the most of the upcoming four races, starting at Martinsville, as these tracks will return for the playoffs as well.

Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott won the two races at Martinsville last year, starting as two of the favorites on Saturday. Truex Jr. has been one of the best drivers at the track in recent years and has two wins there in the last three races.

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Elliott, on the other hand, has three top-5s in the last four Martinsville races, including a win and a runner-up finish.

Mar 7, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) and driver William Byron (24) lead the field for the start of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Keselowski is on an incredible run at Martinsville in NASCAR Cup Series

However, one of the strongest competitors to emerge at Martinsville is Brad Keselowski. The Team Penske star has nine top-5 finishes in the last 10 races, which includes two wins. His consistency is incredible and Keselowski is definitely one of the favorites, if not the favorite for Saturday’s race.

His teammate and Saturday’s pole-sitter, Joey Logano, who is looking for back-to-back Cup wins after his Bristol dirt win, also has a good record at the track. Logano has three top-5s and two top-10s in his last six races there, including a win.

Joining Logano on the front row is Denny Hamlin. The best driver so far this season, Hamlin hasn’t been at his best at Martinsville lately, but with five career Cup wins there, he is always a really strong contender.

Mar 21, 2021; Hampton, Georgia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) is being chased by NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) the leader at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Can Kyle Larson become the first repeat winner in 2021?

Kyle Larson has been one of the best drivers this season, showing great speed. However, Martinsville has historically been a bad race for him in the Cup race, and he will look to change things around in his first race with Hendrick Motorsports there.

Meanwhile, Kyle Busch has had a topsy-turvy time at Martinsville in the last few years. He has just one top-10 in his last three races there, but had a string of eight consecutive top-5s just before that, including two wins. Busch is still trying to find consistent form this season and the Joe Gibbs driver can never be counted out.

Martinsville does not come at quite the right time for Kevin Harvick, who hasn’t been consistent there recently. Already facing issues with speed and form this year, Harvick needs to turn things around quickly and will hope he can do that at Martinsville.

Similarly, Bubba Wallace also has struggled in Cup races at Martinsville. But he will focus on making the most of his improved form in the 23XI Racing car and get a strong finish.

Another potential challenger for the win is Ryan Blaney, and he will be motivated to convert his back-to-back 2nd-place finishes into a win.

Who will win the Cup race at Martinsville?

Races at tracks like Martinsville always produce exciting action with such a level-playing field among the top drivers. With so many drivers in contention, it will be interesting to see if the trend of a new winner in every race continues this season.

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It seems like we will see an eighth different winner on Saturday.

PREDICTION: Brad Keselowski to win his first race of the 2021 season, at Martinsville.

 

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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