2019 STP 500 Vegas picks and top NASCAR predictions: Back Aric Almirola at Martinsville

The 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series rolls on Sunday with a stop at Martinsville Speedway for the 2019 STP 500 at 2 p.m. ET. Coming off the two-mile track at Fontana last week, drivers must adjust to the half-mile short track at Martinsville. The paper-clip-shaped venue has two different surfaces and 12-degree banking in the turns, making for a challenging run for even the most experienced drivers. Vegas oddsmakers are high on Kyle Busch, who is going off as the favorite at 8-5 in the latest 2019 STP 500 odds as he goes for his third consecutive win of the season. Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. are next at 5-1, while Joey Logano (7-1), who won his fifth pole at Martinsville, is the only other driver listed at lower than 10-1. Before locking in any 2019 STP 500 picks of your own, read the NASCAR at Martinsville predictions from pioneering NASCAR handicapper Micah Roberts.

Roberts went with Jimmie Johnson as a hefty 25-1 long shot at the season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash. The result: Johnson survived a huge crash and went on to win the rain-shortened race as Roberts' followers raked it in. At the TicketGuardian 500 in Phoenix two weeks ago, Roberts nailed Busch at 4-1 odds over the heavily favored over Harvick, and nailed eight of the top 10. At last week's Auto Club 400, he had nine of the top 10 correct.

He entered the 2019 NASCAR season after finishing big-time in the black in 2018. Those who wagered $100 on each of his picks last year have $1,750 in profit to show for it. His biggest wins came when he went against the grain, taking Keselowski at 12-1 to win the South Point 400 at Las Vegas in the opening race of the NASCAR playoffs and going with Logano, also 12-1, to take the First Data 500 at Martinsville. He also nailed four of Harvick's nine series victories and three of Busch's nine wins. Anyone who's following his picks is up huge year after year. 

Now, he has analyzed Sunday's STP 500 field from every possible angle and locked in his 2019 NASCAR at Martinsville picks.

We can tell you he's not going with Keselowski, one of the top 2019 STP 500 favorites at 5-1. In fact, Roberts says Keselowski doesn't even crack the top five.

Keselowski won four weeks ago at Atlanta and has been successful at Martinsville in the past, with a win in 2017 and six top-five finishes in his last eight trips around the Virginia track. But the new car package that will be used here is the same one that was used in Phoenix, and that didn't go well for him. 

"The only issue with him this week is he finished 19th at Phoenix two weeks ago using this same package," Roberts told SportsLine. Keselowski won at Phoenix this season, but also finished outside the top 10 in the Daytona 500. There are far better values than the 5-1 premium you'll need to pay for him. 

However, Roberts is high on Aric Almirola, who's going off as a hefty long shot at 25-1 odds. 

"His career-best at Martinsville was fourth-place in 2012 while driving the No. 43, but he is in an entirely different class category now," Roberts told SportsLine. "Almirola is right up there with teammate Kevin Harvick and Stewart Haas racing every week. NASCAR will be using the same package from Phoenix, where Almirola finished fourth. He's worth spending a few bucks on to win."

Almirola will start from second place in the 2019 NASCAR at Martinsville grid and has finished in the top 10 in four straight races. This is the third time this season he's started in the top three. 

For the win, Roberts is eyeing another underdog with double-digit odds to shock the field. His NASCAR at Martinsville picks will surprise many, but anyone who backs this driver could hit a massive payday, just like in the season opener.

So which drivers are must-backs in the 2019 STP 500? And which underdog shocks NASCAR? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard for the 2019 STP 500 at Martinsville from the nation's premier NASCAR handicapper, and find out.

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