The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series heads to Virginia for the Xfinity 500, slated to take place on Oct. 31. It will mark the 35th race of the season, the ninth of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and the final race of the Round of 8.
Kyle Larson heads to Virginia as the man to watch, having won the last three playoffs races, showcasing both his incredible form and that he is worthy of being considered as the best NASCAR driver of the season. Unsurprisingly, Larson is expected to dominate in Virginia, with the NASCAR betting odds showing him as the main favorite.
Although the scores and odds make a lot of sense, you can never be too sure. And it definitely wouldn’t be the first time if an underdog claims the win.
This betting preview takes a look at the upcoming race, what can we expect, and which drivers are worth betting on.
The Drivers To Watch
Kyle Larson Leads the Way
Given his success across the last three races, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Kyle Larson is the top favorite to win the 2021 Xfinity 500. He has won nine races on the season and all of the last three – including Charlotte, Texas, and Kansas.
It’s worth noting that at Martinsville Speedway, Larson has yet to win a single race across 13 starts. However, he has placed fifth earlier this year, marking his first top-5 since 2016. Adding to that, Larson has three top-10s.
There are definitely better drivers on this track in the field, but with the form Larson has been showing of late, it’s extremely hard to doubt him.
Elliott and Hamlin Could Impress
Chase Elliott has driven himself in a solid position to advance into the final four. He is ranked second with 4,107 points, which is still slightly off from Larson (4,181); however, Elliott can’t complain.
The 25-year-old has done exceptionally well in Kansas, where he nearly beat Larson but ended up short in the end due to hitting the wall. Still, he placed second, which is a commendable achievement, and his third top-three finish of the playoffs.
“Really proud of the effort on our NAPA team. We did a great job today,” said Elliott.
“I felt like we had something for Kyle (Larson) there, just got the wall there off of [turn] two.”
While we talk about drivers who can impress, we can’t forget about Denny Hamlin. Like Elliott, Hamlin is in an excellent spot to advance into the final four and is only two points short of Elliott in the standings.
Hamlin travels to Virginia with two wins to his name on the season – both coming from the playoffs. He also placed top-five in Kansas, marking his third top-5 of the playoffs, following a runner-up finish in Richmond and a fifth-place finish in Charlotte.
Hamlin has been very consistent, and while he hasn’t won as many races as Larson, he also placed outside of the top-9 only once (Texas).
If you’re looking to bet now on a driver who is in the best form, you can’t go wrong with Larson. However, sometimes you should put more weight on experience and past success, and when we talk about these two factors, there aren’t many drivers who can compare to Hamlin.
Hamlin has 31 starts in Martinsville, five wins, five top-5s, and 22 top-10s. To put it into perspective – Hamlin has won 16.1% of the races on this track, placed the top five in over half of his starts (51.6%), and finished inside the top-10 in 71%.
Elliott is not too far behind with his percentages, having won one race, placed top-5 in five, and finished inside the top-10 in seven races from 12 starts. Although solid numbers, Elliott also has far less experience driving on Martinsville Speedway.
You can’t go wrong with betting on Larson, but Hamlin is worth a smaller wager to bounce back and add his sixth win on the Martinsville Speedway.