After a day roaming the wide-open spaces of Atlanta Motor Speedway at high speed Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Virginia Wednesday for the Blue-Emu 500, an event where social distancing during competition won’t be easily regulated.
NASCAR Blue-Emu 500 Preview
The Cup Series is back in action for a Wednesday night event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with the Blue-Emu 500, where it will be back to the bruising, banging short track style competition on the flat and tight historic half-mile oval.
Over the last 12 Cup Series events at Martinsville only two drivers have multiple wins at the track, Brad Keselowski (2017, 2019) and Kyle Busch (2016, 2017).
Keselowski (7-1) has two victories in the last six events since NASCAR returned to action on May 17. And the tight confines of Martinsville Speedway have proved to be a place where Keselowski is quite comfortable. In his last 10 Cup Series starts at Martinsville, Keselowski has two wins, four podiums and eight top-five finishes. Over 20 career starts at the track he has an average finish of 10.8 with 14 top-10 finishes overall.
Busch (5.5-1), the reigning Cup Series champion, is still searching for his first victory of 2020 after 10 events. Busch has finished in the top-four in six events this year, but hasn’t broken through to victory lane yet. Martinsville is a place where Busch’s bruising style typically shines so should do well in the Blue-Emu 500. In 29 Cup starts at the track he has finished in the top-five 16 times. In the last nine Cup events at the track he has a pair of victories, four podium finishes and eight top-fives.
Next to Busch, Martin Truex Jr. (6.5-1) is the second biggest surprise on this year’s winless list. Truex recorded a season best third place finish Sunday at Atlanta. Truex got his first Martinsville Cup Series victory last fall and has 12 top-10 finishes in 28 starts at the track, including finishes of eighth or better in eight of the last 10 events there.
Martinsville has been a roller coaster for Chase Elliott (8.5-1) over nine career starts. He has four top-10’s to go with four finishes of 20th or worse.
Denny Hamlin (10-1) has struggled to find consistency over the last six races since NASCAR got back in action and we don’t see that changing at the Blue-Emu 500. He has a victory and four top-five’s in the last six events, but also 17th place and 29th place finish. The Virginia native has typically found success going home to Martinsville with five wins and 21 top-10 finishes in 28 starts at the track, with an average finish of 9.4. But he hasn’t won there since 2015.
Kevin Harvick (11-1) comes off a runaway victory Sunday at Atlanta, his second in the six races since NASCAR’s return to action. Harvick’s worst finish in the last six races has been an 11th place. Harvick has one career Cup Series victory at Martinsville, coming in 2011. Over 37 starts at the track has just five top-five finishes.
Joey Logano had two wins in the first four events of the season but has been shut out of victory lane since NASCAR’s return to action from shutdown. Logano has struggled to find his groove since the return to action, with a pair of sixth place finishes marking his best efforts. He’s finished 10th or worse in the other events. At Martinsville Logano has one Cup Series victory (2018) and 10 top-10’s in 22 starts.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (21-1) has nine career victories in 36 starts at Martinsville but only in his last 13 events there (2016). At a track where he has 19 career top-five finishes, he hasn’t cracked the top-10 in the last six events at Martinsville.
That’s it for our look at the Blue-Emu 500 this week, good luck with your online betting!