Jimmie Johnson made history….again.
For the first time ever, oddsmakers have put a driver as a 2/1 favorite for a race. Johnson’s record at Martinsville is unbelievable, and it’s why there may be better options for those interested in Sunday’s STP 500.
Johnson has 24 career starts at Martinsville. He has eight wins in those starts. That 33.3 percent clip is the highest for any driver at any track with more than ten starts.
When Johnson doesn’t win, he contends. Only seven times has Johnson finished worse than fifth. The other 17 times, Johnson has had a top-5 finish.
And get this, Johnson has finished outside the top-10 at Martinsville in just three of 21 races.
The Pretty Good:
If Johnson doesn’t win, Jeff Gordon or Denny Hamlin are strong options to unseat the King of Martinsville. Hamlin, bad eye and all, is 8/1 and has four wins in 16 career starts. Doctors cleared Hamlin to drive after whatever happened at Auto Club last week, and Hamlin was in the middle of a comeback prior to the California sinus infection/piece of metal in my eye/whatever that was situation.
Like Johnson, Gordon also has eight wins, plus a whopping 27 top-5 finishes. Much of this success occurred prior to Johnson’s run, though oddsmakers have Gordon listed as the second favorite at 5/1.
As normal, short track fiends like Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are under 10/1. The anomaly is Tony Stewart. Among active drivers, only Johnson, Gordon and Hamlin have better average finishes at Martinsville than Smoke. Unlike those three, Stewart is 35/1. That’s not a typo. A guy who has three wins at the track is 35/1.
Who knows how healthy Stewart’s leg is. Maybe the Stewart Haas package is down a bit this year, though I don’t think that’s the case. Maybe Johnson is just too good. But Tony Stewart being 35/1 at any track seems crazy to me and crazy to pass up at a track like Martinsville.
That last statement probably means Stewart has no chance of winning. Here’s how your favorite drive stacks up. Have fun watching the #48 lead a bunch of laps, and insert random catchphrase here.