On Saturday night, August 17th, NASCAR returns to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, for one of the sport’s most beloved traditions—the Bristol Night Race. With three races left in the regular season, multiple playoff positions are still up for grabs. Additionally, several drivers are looking to get their first win of the season and automatically qualify for the postseason.
Kyle Busch still leads in the standings, but the Top 5 drivers are only separated by 87 points. Joe Gibbs Racing continues to have three cars in the Top 5 of the driver standings and the playoff points standings. The fourth member of the team, Erik Jones, sits 14th overall just 70 points ahead of the cutoff.
NASCAR betting sites have released their betting odds for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol this weekend. Let’s do a pre-race inspection of these odds to see if there’s any value, identify potential longshots, and pick the correct race winner.
The Bristol Night Race is a tradition that has become not only a fan favorite, but also one of the favorites for past and present NASCAR drivers. The first race was held in 1961. However, it wasn’t until 1978 that NASCAR moved this race to Saturday nights. For the next 41 years, NASCAR fans have made this one of the most exciting races throughout the year. At a distance of .53 miles per lap, Bristol has become a track where only the strong survive in a vehicular war of attrition. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race breaks down as follows:
The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race is set to begin at 7:30 PM ET and will air live on NBC Sports.
With all of the excitement heading into one of NASCAR’s best races, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Bristol Motor Speedway:
As mentioned, the first Bristol race was held in 1961, but the first night race wasn’t held until August 1978. Darrell Waltrip holds the record for most Saturday night Bristol wins with seven. Cale Yarborough has five wins in this race, but three of them came before NASCAR moved it to Saturday night. Of the active drivers, Kyle Busch has the most wins with three. Joey Logano and last year’s winner Kurt Busch have two apiece. The following is a list of the previous winners dating back to 2003:
Six previous winners will take the starting line on Saturday night: both Busch brothers, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski.
The following NASCAR betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Bristol Night Race:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
|Martin Truex Jr.||0||2||3||16.5||20.9||4|
Kyle Busch comes into this weekend with a 20-point lead over Joey Logano for the top spot in the standings and a 15-point lead over teammate Martin Truex Jr. in playoff points. Busch also leads all drivers with nine stage wins and is tied for the most victories on the season with Truex at four apiece. Last weekend, Busch finished sixth at Michigan, which was his best result since a second-place finish at Kentucky six races ago. Fortunately for Kyle, he comes to a track where he has dominated in his career.
Busch leads all active drivers with eight Bristol wins including the spring race here and the 2017 fall race. He has captured the checkered flag in three of the last four Bristol races and has led the most laps among active drivers with 2,304. Busch has led laps in seven of the last 10 races at this track.
Kyle is the man to beat on Saturday night and the oddsmakers truly believe that. He’s listed at half of the odds as the next driver. I expect Kyle to run well this weekend at the Bristol Night Race and contend for a checkered flag. “Rowdy” has mastered this short track racing.
Harvick comes into this race with some momentum. He won at Michigan last weekend, which was his second victory in the last four NASCAR races. It was also the fourth straight Top 7 finish for the #4 car. Harvick is doing his best to hang onto the third spot in the standings, but he’s starting to face some pressure from two other JGR drivers in Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. Fortunately for Harvick, Bristol is a track where he has done well.
In 37 career starts, Harvick has finished in the Top 10 on 19 occasions. His 13.2 average finish is fourth best among active drivers. It’s been three years since he last won the Bristol Night Race, but it appears Harvick is heating up at the right time of this season. For his career, Harvick has won twice at this track.
I picked Harvick to win last weekend, but I’m not sure he will have the same success this weekend. Bristol is a different breed of animal and Harvick hasn’t always capitalized on his Top 10 finishes at this track..
Joey Logano has raced well at Bristol over the last five years. He first won at this track in the 2014 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. He followed that up by winning this race in 2015 as well. Since those wins, Logano has six Top 10 finishes and seven Top 13s. Logano was third in the Bristol Spring race and fourth here last year. He’s also led in seven of the last eight Bristol races.
With that said, there is some concern. Logano hasn’t won in the last 10 races and only has three Top 10s since his last win. Last weekend, he finished 17th in the second Michigan race after dominating the first Michigan race in mid-June. Joey seems to have slowed down a bit in terms of victories.
If there’s a driver who can bounce back from a “small slump” on the year, it’s definitely Logano. Joey is still second in the driver standings, third in playoff points, and has the second most stage wins. A strong run at Bristol could help his cause for a Top 3 finish in the regular season. And, like last year, Logano could do his best work in the postseason and possibly take the championship for the second straight year.
Kyle Larson has turned it on in since his 10th place result at Sonoma eight races ago. Since then, he has had four Top 5s. He also has five Top 8s during this eight-race span. Larson sits 13th in the driver standings just one point ahead of Erik Jones and 19 points behind William Byron in 12th. However, he is 11th in playoff points, which is what matters the most when the postseason begins.
At Bristol, Larson has fared well in the past. Unfortunately, he’s still looking for his first win at this track. Kyle finished 19th in the spring race at Bristol, which snapped a streak of four straight Top 9 finishes. Larson has led in four of the last five Bristol races, and I believe there’s a chance he can do it again this weekend.
Kyle Larson has a lot of momentum on his side during the second half of the regular season, and he’s on the cusp of winning a race in 2019. I expect Larson to run well this Saturday night. He already has two poles in the last five Bristol races, and I believe he could snag his third pole this weekend at the Bristol Night Race..
From Larson to Truex, I get to talk about my two favorite drivers in the sport. Unfortunately, Bristol hasn’t been as good to Truex as it’s been to Larson or the other betting favorites. In 27 career starts, Truex only has three Top 10s. In fact, he has more DNFs (4) than Top 10s or Top 5s (2). His 20.9 average finish is the worst among betting favorites and second worst among the Top 10 drivers in the standings.
In the spring, Truex finish 17th overall. That broke a streak of three straight finishes outside of the Top 20. In fact, over the last 12 Bristol races, Truex has finished 20th or worse in nine of those races. One last point to make about Truex at this track: He’s crashed out of two of the last three races.
It’s a good thing that Truex is already locked into the postseason due to his four wins this year. He should also hold on to his fifth-place result even with a poor performance this weekend. As much as I like Truex, it’s best to avoid betting on him this Saturday night.
The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for this weekend’s Bristol Night Race due to their current betting odds, their past success at Bristol Motor Speedway, and their 2019 season so far:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
Denny Hamlin has come on strong as of late. He was the forgotten man at Joe Gibbs Racing heading into this season, but has found his groove and now sits fourth in the standings. Furthermore, he has three wins on the year and leads all drivers with 12 Top 5s. His 15 Top 10s are tied for second most among drivers and he’s fourth in playoff points.
Hamlin has done a lot of damage over the last eight races, with six Top 5s, six Top 10s, seven Top 15s, and one victory. Hamlin has finished in the Top 5 for five straight races, including a runner-up result last weekend in Michigan and four races ago in New Hampshire.
At Bristol, Denny Hamlin has had success as well. He won this race in 2012 and has 13 Top 10s in 27 career races at this track. Hamlin’s 14.9 average finish is the 10th best among active drivers. Furthermore, Hamlin finished fifth in the Bristol spring race this year and is riding a lot of momentum into this race. He certainly has a better shot at taking the checkered flag than his teammate Martin Truex Jr.
Since his win in Kentucky five races ago, Kurt has struggled some. He fell to eighth in the driver standings, but is locked into the postseason already because of that win. However, over the last four races, Busch has a 17.0 average finish, which is well below his current 11.3 average finish on the season. Like with his younger brother, Bristol has been a track where Kurt Busch has had a lot of success in his career.
In 37 starts, Kurt has six wins at this track, including the Bristol Night Race last year. His win total is second only to Kyle Busch among active drivers. His 19 Top 10s is also second best, two behind Jimmie Johnson. Kurt finished second in the spring race behind his brother Kyle, which was a reverse result of their race at Kentucky where Kurt got his only win of the 2019 season so far.
Kurt has an average finish of 14.3 at this track, which is seventh best among active drivers. He has also led over 1,000 laps at Bristol which is the second best among active drivers. His brother Kyle leads all active drivers with 2,304 laps led.
I like Kurt’s chances this weekend. I think the Busch brothers are going to have another strong showing at Bristol this Saturday night.
Chase Elliott hasn’t won at this track yet, but he does lead all active drivers with a 12.4 average finish. In seven career starts, Elliott has two Top 5s and three Top 10s. He’s also finished every race. Chase won the pole for the spring Bristol race, but finished 11th. Last year, he finished third in the Bristol Night Race. Elliott has also led laps in the last two Bristol races.
For the season, Elliott is seventh in the driver standings and playoff points. Elliott finished ninth last weekend in Michigan after winning at Watkins Glen two races ago. In fact, that was one of the most dominating performances by any driver this season. Chase led 80 of the 90 total laps at Watkins Glen.
Ryan Newman at +10000 odds once again is my longshot pick of the week. There’s no other driver with higher odds that has a better shot at winning at Bristol than Newman. In 35 career starts at this track, Newman has 19 Top 5’s and a respectable 15.5 average finish. He also has a decent 12.2 average start. Newman was ninth in the Bristol spring race this year and has six Top 10s in the last nine races at this track.
Currently, Newman is 15th in the driver standings and 16th in playoff points. If the postseason started tomorrow, Newman would be in. Newman has an average finish of 14.0 this year and eight Top 10s. He was 12th last week at Michigan and has five Top 15 finishes in the last six overall races.
Watch for Newman to sneak into the Top 10 again at Bristol this weekend. And, with this track, anything can happen during the final laps.
The following NASCAR prop bets require bettors to select the winning driver out of head-to-head matchups at Bristol on Saturday night. These driver matchups and betting odds are courtesy of 5Dimes:
|Driver||Kurt Busch||Clint Bowyer|
I’ve already laid out Kurt Busch’s history at Bristol, so let’s take a look at Clint Bowyer’s success at this track. In 27 career starts, he has 14 Top 10s and a 14.3 average finish, which is eighth best among active drivers. However, it’s also tied with Kurt’s average finish and Busch has 10 more career races at Bristol.
Bowyer and Busch are also nearly identical with Top 10 percentage at 51% apiece. However, Kurt has a better Top 5 percentage at 32.4% to Bowyer’s 25.9%. Obviously, the big difference is that Kurt has six wins and Bowyer has none. Kurt won here last year as Clint finished sixth. Both men have raced well over the last five Bristol races and that could be the same this weekend.
I believe Kurt will win this matchup as he contends for the checkered flag, but I do expect Bowyer to quietly finish with at least a Top 15 result. Keep in mind, he’s fighting for a playoff spot. Bowyer is 16th overall, just six points ahead of the cutoff. If he has a bad race on Saturday night, then Bowyer could end up on the outside looking in at NASCAR’s playoffs.
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Martin Truex|
This is an all-Joe Gibbs Racing drivers matchup. If we were talking about who would win the championship this year, then I would take Truex. However, since we are talking about Bristol, it’s clear that Hamlin is the choice to win this matchup.
Both drivers have competed at Bristol 27 times, but only Hamlin has won here. Denny has four times as many Top 5s, four times as many Top 10s, better average start and finish results, and half as many DNFs as Truex does.
If we just compared the last six races at this track, Hamlin has finished in the Top 14 for all of them. Truex’s best result was eighth and he has two DNFs. No matter how one looks at these track stats, Hamlin owns Truex at Bristol.
As much as I like Truex, Denny Hamlin is clearly the driver to put money on in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
|Driver||Kyle Larson||Joey Logano|
This will be an entertaining battle to watch as both drivers have had success at Bristol. However, it’s been Logano that’s won two times while Larson has yet to take a checkered flag. In fact, both of Logano’s Bristol victories have come in the Bristol Night Race in 2014 and 2015.
Both drivers have similar average finishes, but Larson has a better Top 10 percentage (54.5%) compared to Logano (47.6%). Each driver also has one DNF and have led many laps at this track. I’d give the edge to Larson for leading laps as he’s only led 185 less laps than Logano, but has 10 less races at Bristol than Joey does.
With that said, I believe Logano has a legitimate chance at winning this race on Saturday night while Larson will be a Top 10 car.
Bristol truly embodies the saying, “anything can happen.” And that’s due to all of the crashes, fender bumping, moving cars out of the way, and pit strategies. It’s short track racing at its finest. With that in mind, I really like the Busch brothers this weekend. Combined, they have 14 victories at this track and finished first and second in the spring race. They’ve also won the last four Bristol races.
If anyone can upstage the Busch brothers, it has to be Joey Logano. He has won this night race twice, finished third in the spring race and fourth in this night race last year. Joining Logano and the Busch brothers in the Top 10 will be: Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, and Ryan Newman. However, I can see Erik Jones possibly pushing one of these drivers out.
My betting strategy for this race is to wager on both Kyle Busch (+275) and Kurt Busch (+2000). I could possibly even take Logano as well, considering he still has decent value. Of these three, the safe play is Kyle Busch. Since we can only pick one winner, I’m taking Kyle Busch.
Winner: Kyle Busch (+275)
Longshot: Ryan Newman (+10000)
Each week, NASCAR releases 10 prop bets for fans to choose the correct answers, earn points, and possibly some win prizes. Check out the prop bets that I really like for the 24th race of the season:
In short, the answer is yes. Now that Kurt Busch is a Chevy driver once again (he was a Ford driver the last two years), Busch adds another strong driver to the Chevy arsenal at Bristol. He has an average finish of 14.3 at Bristol and Kyle Larson has a 15.2 average finish. Chase Elliott is the other Chevy driver with a realistic shot at finishing high. He leads all active drivers with a 12.4 average finish.
Basically, this prop bet is asking if Larson and Busch can finish higher than Elliott or Jimmie Johnson with his 13.1 average finish and five straight Top 11 finishes.
As mentioned above, Kurt won this night race last year and finished second in the spring race at Bristol. Larson finished second in this night race last year behind Kurt and second behind Kyle Busch in the 2018 spring race. The last time Elliott or Johnson finished higher than both Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson was the 2017 spring race when Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag.
This weekend, I just don’t see Elliott or Johnson finishing higher than Busch and Larson. Both Kurt and Kyle have more momentum at Bristol and on the season than Elliott and Johnson currently do. I believe both Busch and Larson will finish in the Top 5 while Elliott could get a Top 10 and Johnson a Top 15.
This prop bet is a little more straight forward than the one above. Let’s analyze the data of past Bristol races in order to make the correct pick:
Right there, that’s enough information to choose the under. However, the argument is almost a slam dunk when continuing to look back. From the 1991 night race to the spring race of 2005, the under has hit every time. That’s a stretch of 37 straight races. Don’t let the 2019 spring race of 21 lead changes fool you. Take the under for this prop bet.
The key to this prop bet is waiting to see where Kyle Busch ends up starting. Outside of Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch is the only driver to win a Bristol race starting outside of the Top 10 since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2004 night race. Busch has done it seven times and Harvick has done it twice.
As you can see, the winner has started inside the Top 10 for 60% of the races at Bristol. However, Kyle Busch is the key here. Of his eight career wins, seven of them have been by starting outside of the Top 10. Only two of Kurt Busch’s six career wins have come outside of the Top 10.
The percentages lean toward the winner starting inside the Top 10, but where the Busch brothers start is going to be vital to this prop bet. As of this writing, qualifying has not taken place, so I’m going with inside the Top 10.
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