A popular saying holds that ‘there is no accounting for taste.’ The same seems to be true of oddsmakers’ opinions of drivers many weeks.
Most stock offerings include a disclaimer that ‘past performance is no guarantee of future results’, and that may be the statement most applicable at the moment where Martin Truex Jr. is concerned.
A bettor who has gone all in on Martin Truex Jr. during the past 365 days has not been very profitable. A hypothetical bet of $10 per week would have netted a loss of $295, which equates to -82%. That is what happens when a driver has only one victory in the last rolling year.
Truex had odds of +550 (11/2) in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway last year, which made him the second-favored driver. It is his only victory in his last 42 attempts. By comparison, teammate Kyle Busch currently stands at 1-for-39 and garnered much more attention for his desperate dearth. Meanwhile Joe Gibbs Racing made the playoffs in 2020 with Denny Hamlin. Christopher Bell scored an impressive victory on the Daytona road course a couple of weeks ago.
And yet, Truex is often a favorite. During the past year he was the favorite at Dover International Speedway, Richmond Raceway, and Martinsville in their fall contest.
He finished second in both Dover races and at Richmond. Truex was a distant 22nd in Martinsville 2.
TRUEX’S BIGGEST PAYDAY LAST 365 DAYS: (Martinsville 1, +550)
One might suppose that would increase the difficultly for oddsmakers to make him a favorite this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Pennzoil 400. One would be wrong. With opening odds of +625 at PointsBet Sportsbook and an implied probability of 13.8% to win, he narrowly beats out Kevin Harvick at +650.
Last week’s third-place finish in the Dixie Vodka 400 likely had something to do with that. So does his fourth-place finish in last fall’s South Point 400 at Vegas and his victories there in 2019 and 2017.
Truex is widely considered a favorite on the 1.5-mile tracks - and his 12 wins on that course type during the past five rolling years is significantly better than the eight of Harvick.
Unfortunately that 2019 Vegas win is his latest on a 1.5-miler, which should cause bettors to pause before placing their bet for an outright win. Six of his last 15 races since that victory have ended in top-threes, however, so a prop bet there is a much better option.
Further positive news regarding Truex this week is that Vegas ranks as his second-best active oval with a career-average finish of 11.0 in 18 starts. He is better overall at Homestead with a 9.9 in 17 starts and at Kentucky Speedway, which is not on the 2021 schedule, with a 10.2 in 10. There are three road courses (Daytona, Charlotte and Watkins Glen) where he has a better average finish as well.
Until Truex is triumphant again on the 1.5-milers, place only modest bets for outright wins. If he gathers momentum this year, road courses should also factor heavily into your betting strategy in late spring and summer. And with his recent surge on short tracks, he should be evaluated at Martinsville and Richmond in the coming weeks.
Truex cannot be ignored on any given Sunday, but he absolutely needs to be approached with caution.
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