The penultimate race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series takes place today with the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Read on below to see my prediction for who will win the race, as well as my top 10, dark horse, and driver to fade predictions.
Winner: Martin Truex Jr.- Truex has put together a solid 2021 campaign, with 4 wins, 11 top 5’s, and 18 top 10 finishes. Truex has found some speed during this playoff run that was missing at times this summer, with a win and 5 top 10’s in 8 playoff races so far. Truex brings that solid form to one of his best racetracks, as he has 3 wins, 14 top 10’s, and has led 1,007 laps in 31 career Martinsville starts. Winner of the spring Martinsville race and winner of 3 of the last 4 races held here, I predict that Martin Truex Jr. will get the season sweep and claim a spot in the Championship 4 with a victory today!
Top 10: Ryan Blaney- Blaney is having a career season, with 3 wins, 10 top 5’s, and 19 top 10 finishes. Blaney has really come into form since the All-Star Race, with 2 wins, 8 top 5’s, and 11 top 10’s coming in the 18 races since then. With 5 top 10’s in 8 playoff races, Blaney brings terrific form into Martinsville, where he has had 5 top 5 finishes and has led 372 laps in his last 7 starts here. Blaney will look to put together a solid points day and will easily bring home a top 10 finish.
Dark Horse: Matt DiBenedetto- Matty D has had an up and down 2021, with just 3 top 5’s and 9 top 10 finishes. With nothing confirmed for next season yet, DiBenedetto comes to Martinsville having finished in the top 12 here in each of the last 3 races. DiBenedetto also has 4 finishes of 13th or better on short tracks this season and 4 top 13 finishes in 8 playoff races. A win is unlikely, but I expect Matty D to bring home a solid top 12 finish today.
Driver to Fade: Michael McDowell- The Cinderella Story of the 2021 season with his Daytona 500 victory, McDowell has struggled on short tracks this year, with just 1 top 20 finish in 5 short track starts. Martinsville has proven to be a thorn in McDowell’s side in his career, with just 3 top 20 finishes in 21 starts and an average finishing position of 29.81. McDowell is an easy fade and is a lock to finish outside the top 20 today.