On Saturday, September 19th, NASCAR will be live from the Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race. It’s the 29th overall race on the season, the second annual trip to Bristol, and the third and final event of the first round of the Playoffs.
This weekend’s race will determine which Playoff drivers move on to the second round. Currently, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski have won the first two races in the opening round and automatically advance.
Both drivers are also ranked in the Top 5 odds on favorites to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, according to most NASCAR betting sites. Joining Keselowski and Harvick in the Top 5 are Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch.
Bristol Motor Speedway is the sport’s most iconic short track at a lap length of .55 miles. Nicknamed “Thunder Valley,” this track is shaped like an oval, has a concrete surface, and features stadium seating. The following is a breakdown of Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race:
Total Miles: 266.5 miles
Total Laps: 500 laps
Stage 1: First 125 laps
Stage 2: Second 125 laps
Final Stage: Remaining 250 laps
The Bass Pro Shops Night Race is set to begin at 7:30 PM ET and will air live on NBCSN.
What to Watch for at Bristol
The following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Bristol Motor Speedway this Saturday night:
Will another Playoff driver win the third leg of the first round?
Can a non-Playoff driver win at Bristol?
Can Joe Gibbs Racing get their first postseason win?
The current Playoff standings heading into the third race of the postseason and the final event of the first round:
Kevin Harvick (2143) – won race
Brad Keselowski (2112) – won race
Denny Hamlin (2122)
Joey Logano (2109)
Martin Truex Jr. (2096)
Austin Dillon (2094)
Chase Elliott (2086)
Alex Bowman (2085)
Kyle Busch (2076)
Aric Almirola (2065)
Kurt Busch (2065)
Clint Bowyer (2061)
Below the Cutoff Line
William Byron (2058)
Cole Custer (2053)
Matt Dibenedetto (2036)
Ryan Blaney (2034)
Previous Bass Pro Shops Night Race Winners
Denny Hamlin is the defending race winner having captured the checkered flag last year in this event. Darrell Waltrip holds the all-time mark for the most wins of this race with seven. The following is a list of previous winners dating back to 2005:
Matt Kenseth in 2005, 2006, 2013
Carl Edwards in 2007, 2008
Kyle Busch in 2009, 2010, 2017
Brad Keselowski in 2011
Denny Hamlin in 2012
Joey Logano in 2014, 2015
Kevin Harvick in 2016
Kurt Busch in 2018
Denny Hamlin in 2019
Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers for the most wins of this race at three apiece.
According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race on Saturday, September 19th:
Denny Hamlin (+450)
Top 3 (+140)
Top 5 (-125)
Top 10 (-400)
Denny Hamlin was my pick to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 last weekend at Richmond, but he ended up fading after leading 45 laps and finished a disappointing 12th place.
That’s two straight finishes outside of the Top 10 as the #11 car has cooled off from his hot summer. Furthermore, he’s dropped to 3rd in the standings as both Harvick and Keselowski won the first two races in this opening Playoff round.
As mentioned, Hamlin is the defending winner of this race, but finished 17th in the first Bristol race of the season. In 29 starts, he has two wins, nine Top 5s, 14 Top 10s, and a 14.5 average finish which is 6th best among Playoff drivers.
Over the last four years, Hamlin has finished in the Top 20 for every Bristol race. He’s also scored four Top 5s during that span.
Hamlin will start 7th this weekend, which should keep him up front for most of the race, but I have a hard time pegging Denny as a Top 3 car or winning this weekend. I see a Top 5 spot as his ceiling.
Chase Elliott (+500)
Top 3 (+180)
Top 5 (-105)
Top 10 (-335)
Elliott comes into this weekend sitting in 6th place and will advance to the next round as long as he finishes the race. He finished 5th last weekend and heads to a track where he’s never won at before.
Yet, despite never winning at Bristol, BetOnline has Elliott as the second odds on favorite. In nine starts at this track, Chase has three Top 5s, four Top 10s, and a 12.7 average finish which is the best among active drivers.
Earlier this year, Busch finished 22nd at Bristol but does have two Top 5 finishes in the last four races at this short track. He will start 6th on Saturday night.
I see value with Elliott’s Top 5 odds, but I don’t believe he will be a Top 3 car or threaten for the race win.
Brad Keselowski (+550)
Top 3 (+190)
Top 5 (-105)
Top 10 (-315)
Keselowski jumped up to 2nd overall in the standings after winning at Richmond last weekend. He led 192 laps and dominated that race. I thought his ceiling was a Top 5 result, but I didn’t think the #2 car would win the race.
Now, Keselowski has no pressure at Bristol this weekend as he’s already advanced to the next round of the Playoffs. Furthermore, he will start on the pole which gives him a huge advantage in the early portions of this event.
And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you of placing some action on Keselowski this weekend, he won the Bristol race held earlier this year. Keselowski has two Top 3 finishes in a row and has led laps in four of the last five BMS events.
With how well he’s running, I believe Keselowski will be a Top 10, Top 5 and possibly even a Top 3 car this Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick (+550)
Top 3 (+190)
Top 5 (+100)
Top 10 (-315)
Harvick kicked off the Playoffs by winning at Darlington and cemented his spot in the next round. He ended up 7th at Richmond last weekend and comes to Bristol having not won here in four years.
Harvick finished 11th at Bristol this spring and was 39th in this race last year. He’s finished outside of the Top 10 for three straight races and is being overshadowed in this event by other drivers. That has been a rarity this season as Harvick has led the field in wins and most other major stats.
I believe Harvick will turn things around and crack the Top 10. However, I think his ceiling is a Top 5 as I don’t believe the #4 car will be contending for a checkered flag this weekend.
Kyle Busch (+600)
Top 3 (+180)
Top 5 (-112)
Top 10 (-345)
In two Playoff races, Kyle Busch has gone from 14th to 9th in the standings with a 7th place result at Darlington and a 6th place result at Richmond last weekend. He was below the cutoff line when the postseason began, but has put himself in a great position to advance to the next round.
Additionally, Busch leads all active drivers with eight wins at Bristol including three in this race. It’s a track where he’s dominated at over the last few years.
In the last six Bristol races, Busch has three wins, five Top 5s, five Top 10s and an average finish of 5.1. For his career, his average finish of 13.1 at BMS is the 3rd best among active drivers.
With Busch turning things around in the postseason, I like his chances this weekend to contend for a checkered flag. Could we see the #18 car get his first win of the season?
Busch finished 4th in the first Bristol race this season and 4th in last year’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race. I believe he will crack the Top 5 and the Top 3 this weekend and be one of the cars to beat in the final laps.
The Best Bass Pro Shops Night Race Betting Value
The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race due to their current betting odds, their past success at Bristol Motor Speedway, and their 2020 season so far:
Joey Logano (+900)
Top 3 (+250)
Top 5 (+140)
Top 10 (-230)
Joey Logano has had a strong start to the postseason with a 3rd place result at Darlington and a 3rd place result at Richmond last weekend. In fact, he has four Top 5s and eight Top 10s in the last nine overall races on the season.
Bristol is a track where Logano has won twice at, but not since the 2015 edition of this race. However, since then, he does have three Top 5s, and six Top 10s in the last nine Bristol races.
I really like Logano’s value for a Top 5 finish this weekend. He’s had two straight subpar performances at Bristol in the last two races at this track, but his overall momentum on the season has me confident that Logano will be a Top 10 car with a real shot at the Top 5.
Clint Bowyer (+1400)
Top 3 (+500)
Top 5 (+275)
Top 10 (-125)
Currently, Clint Bowyer sits 12th in the standings just three points ahead of William Byron in 13th. Only the Top 12 drivers advance to the second round of the Playoffs, so the pressure is on Bowyer to run well on Saturday night.
Bowyer has had a solid start to the Playoffs with two straight Top 10 results. I pegged him as a Top 10 car last weekend and I believe he can do it again this weekend. For his career, Bowyer has 16 Top 10s in 29 starts which is a 55.2% rate of finishing inside the top ten.
In the last 10 races at BMS, Bowyer has three Top 5s and eight Top 10s. In fact, he’s finished in the Top 8 for the last five races. Earlier this year, Bowyer was runner up to Keselowski. In the 2019 edition of this race, Bowyer was 7th.
When you look at what Bowyer has done at this track over the last few years along with his two straight Top 10s in the Playoffs, and the pressure of trying stay above the cutoff line, I believe Bowyer is a good value play for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
Kurt Busch (+1600)
Top 3 (+450)
Top 5 (+260)
Top 10 (-134)
Kurt Busch is another veteran driver with success at Bristol in his career. He’s also another veteran driver that’s barely above the cutoff line with only a seven point cushion over William Byron.
In his career, Busch has won six times at Bristol with the last victory coming in this race two years ago. He has four straight Top 9 finishes at Bristol and I believe he’s going to be a Top 10 car on Saturday night. His Top 10 odds have value and the #1 car is a good bet to move on in the Playoffs.
The Top Longshot to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race
William Byron (+5000)
Top 3 (+1200)
Top 5 (+650)
Top 10 (+150)
As mentioned, William Byron is the driver trying to chase down both Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer as he currently sits three points below the cutoff line, which means he will be eliminated from the Playoffs unless he can catch the two veteran drivers ahead of him in the standings.
With the clear motivation to run well this weekend, I have Bowyer as my longshot play of the weekend. I see longshot risk with his Top 5 odds, but feel his Top 10 odds are a bit more realistic. He did finish 8th this year at Bristol.
Additionally, Byron won at Daytona three races ago to get into the Playoffs and did finish 5th at Darlington two races ago. Unfortunately, a 21st place result last weekend at Richmond has put Byron on the verge of being eliminated.
Avoid These Playoff Drivers at Bristol
The following Playoff drivers should be avoided this weekend in the Bristol night race:
Martin Truex Jr. (+1600) – I hate saying that my favorite driver should be avoided, but that’s the case this weekend. In 29 career starts at this track, Truex only has two Top 5s and three Top 10s.
Austin Dillon (+1800) – In 13 races at Bristol, Dillon has one Top 5 and three Top 10s. He has potential to crack the Top 10 this weekend, but at his current odds, I believe Dillon should be avoided for other options.
Alex Bowman (+4000) – Bowman has just two Top 10s in nine races at Bristol and enters with a 22.7 average finish which is the 3rd worse among Playoff drivers.
Aric Almirola (+4000) – In 22 starts at BMS, Almirola has just one Top 5 and three Top 10s. Furthermore, his 25.0 average finish is the 2nd worse among Playoff drivers. He has just one Top 10 finish in the last 12 races at Bristol.
Cole Custer (+8000) – Custer has raced one time at this track and finished 35th This young driver will not be able to compete with the veterans of short track racing this weekend.
Matt Dibenedetto (+5000) – My boy “Matty D.” will end up being eliminated this weekend from the Playoffs as he only has one Top 5 and two Top 10s at Bristol in 11 starts. Just one of those Top 10s has come in the last eight BMS races.
Ryan Blaney (+1000) – I believe Blaney is the most overvalued driver this weekend. He’s never won at this track before and has an average finish of 21.5 in the first two races of this year’s Playoffs.
Bass Pro Shops Night Race Checkered Flag
My Top 5 drivers for this weekend’s race are Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Of those five drivers, Kyle Busch has the most pressure on him. With that said, I’m having a real hard time picking against Busch this weekend.
The reigning Cup Series champion needs a win badly and this is a track where he can definitely accomplish that at.
Hamlin and Keselowski have won the last two Bristol races, so they’re definitely in the run for this weekend’s checkered flag. I think Harvick will finish Top 5, but not win. This is a track where he hasn’t won at in a few years.
Thunder Valley is known for bump drafting, aggressive driving and rowdiness. I can’t believe I’m going against my mid-season declaration, but I am taking Kyle “Rowdy” Busch to win on Saturday night and reestablish himself as a contender for this year’s championship.
The following NASCAR prop bets are courtesy of DraftKings:
Car Number of Race Winner
Of my Top 5 drivers, only Denny Hamlin drives an odd number. With that said, I really like the even numbered cars to run away with this race. I’m picking Kyle Busch (#18) to win, but Keselowski (#2), Harvick (#4), and Logano (#22) are also credible threats this weekend.
Car Number of Race Winner –Even (-167)
Car Number of Race Winner
Over 11.5 (+105)
Under 11.5 (-141)
Of my Top 5 drivers, Busch (18) and Logano (22) are the only ones above 11.5. Brad Keselowski (2), Kevin Harvick (4) and Denny Hamlin (11) are all below the 11.5 mark.
This is a great chance to hedge our bets due to the firepower Under 11.5 that have a realistic shot at winning on Saturday.
Car Number of Race Winner –Under 11.5 (-141)
Manufacturer of Race Winner
My Top 5 drivers consists of two Toyotas and three Fords. So, we have another chance at hedging our bets by going with Ford (Keselowski, Harvick, Logano) for this prop bet despite taking Kyle Busch and his Toyota to win this race.
Manufacturer of Race Winner –Ford (+130)
Team of Race Winner
Joe Gibbs Racing (+180)
Team Penske (+275)
Hendrick Motor Sports (+400)
Stewart-Haas Racing (+450)
Chip Ganassi Racing (+1500)
Richard Childress racing (+1600)
Any Other Team (+2000)
JTG Daughtery Racing (+6600)
Roush Fenway Racing (+8000)
My Top 5 drivers consists of two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers (Busch, Hamlin), one Stewart-Haas Racing driver (Harvick), and two Team Penske drivers (Keselowski, Logano).
This prop bet could also be a candidate for hedging our bets with Busch as the race winner, as Team Penske would make for a good wager. However, I’m going to double down on Joe Gibbs Racing to win and their +180 odds.
Team of Race Winner –Joe Gibbs Racing (+180)
Bass Pro Shops Night Race Betting Recap
Joey Logano (+900)
Clint Bowyer (+1400)
Kurt Busch (+1600)
William Byron (+5000)
Kyle Busch (-550)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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