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Blue-Emu 500 Dark Horses

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: April 7, 2021, 2:32 pm ET

Two of last week’s dark horses rewarded us with top-10 finishes, while one other narrowly missed and finished among the top 15. With odds of +2200 or greater, each of them had the potential to boost your bank account, but there are other attractive bets that go along with the outright win.

Typically once a driver gets above +3000 for the outright win, his odds of finishing in the top 10 are drug to a positive number and, while you will not find great odds for anyone other than the drivers most likely to get lapped early and often, some well-placed wagers for top-10s can help soften some other losses.

For the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, slightly more than 10 drivers have negative odds. Among them are a couple that we suggested bettors ignore this Saturday night. With outright odds to win of +1400, Kevin Harvick could possibly be a longshot to win, but with the struggles he faced on the paperclip last year, one might have better success by fading him at -182 to finish in the top 10.


Kyle Busch (+1200 for the outright win) is listed at -225 to finish among the top 10, which he has failed to do in two of his last three attempts on this track. He is another driver that bold gamblers might wish to fade. In the first seven races of 2021, Busch finished outside the top 10 in four races. Notably, a 25th-place finish on the other short, flat track of Phoenix Raceway is among them.

We have already made Matt DiBenedetto (+6600) a longshot to win and with odds of 66/1 we’ll stand by that. The chance of being right outweighs the risk of being wrong. But there are some other attractive bets associated with the driver who receives support from Team Penske. DiBenedetto’s long odds of winning drag his top-three odds to +1600 and his top-10 odds to +250. Supplement your modest bet for the outright win with more aggressive ones for these categories.

Ryan Newman (+10000) was one of our success stories last week. We noted he had the right combination of equipment and aggression to remain on the lead lap and once that happened, he could claw his way to the front. He finished fifth in the Food City Dirt Race. This week his odds of earning a top-10 are listed at +275. Last spring he almost cracked that barrier with a 12th in the Blue-Emu 500; he was 18th in the fall. That was the first time since 2014 that he failed to earn a top-10 at Martinsville during a season.

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William Byron (+2500) opened the week ranked among the top-10 at PointsBet Sportsbook. We try to salt our Best Bets with a few longshots for bettors willing to take greater risks and that kept the pilot of the No. 24 off the list. His odds are great enough to make him a dark horse, however. And he is an attractive one at that in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Byron finished eighth in this race last year, but his top-10 odds of -106 don’t leave an acceptable option there. He was second in fall 2019, however, and with +650 to finish in the top three, he is an attractive bet.

Bubba Wallace (+8000) and the 23XI Racing team are steadily improving. Last week they had a car and driver capable of finishing in the top 10 before a flat tire late in the race forced him into the pits. Before then, he finished in the top 10 in both stages. Car owners Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan still expect him to win in 2021 and when that happens, it will like come on a driver’s course like a short, flat track. For now, the safer bet is a top-10 finish at +275.

Was last week’s fourth-place finish a fluke for Daniel Suarez (+15000)? Probably not – although the emotional letdown of contending for a win only to be denied can take a toll the following week. Still, his accomplishment should be noted and with +300 odds to finish in the top 10, it would not be absurd to place a modest bet on a driver who will get a lot of positive attention on the short track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+20000) has been around long enough to accept peaks and valleys with a greater sense of balance than Suarez. He won’t feel any emotional drain from last week’s second-place finish. Instead, Stenhouse will be more focused on backing up that strong run than ever. He is actually worth a bet across the board with a very modest wager for the outright win supplemented by increasingly aggressive wagers for a top-three (+3000) and top-10 (+400).

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Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.