It’s Bristol, baby! Time for THE race that fans circle every year once the calendar comes out, the Saturday night Bristol night race from the world’s last great coliseum.
To quickly recap last week, Dillon & Hemric were locks with their starting spot and Dillon finished top 15 while Hemric had an on-track incident, but still returned solid value at his price. I was in on Kevin Harvick on every lineup and he won, Larson was high on my list and he finished in the top 5. Erik Jones didn’t have a great result finishing 18th and Clint Bowyer crashed out so that sunk a couple of my builds. Overall another solid weekend, especially when you call the winner.
It’s time to look forward to Bristol and that conversation begins with Kyle Busch. He won this race in the spring, won 3 of the last 4 Bristol races and has 8 career cup series wins at the track to go with 9 in the Xfinity Series and 5 in trucks. Kyle Busch loves this place and you would be sadly mistaken to fade the 18 at HIS track on Sunday. His brother, Kurt Busch, is also no slouch when it comes to Bristol, he ran 2nd to his brother in the spring race and has 6 career wins for himself at Bristol.
Last week’s winner Kevin Harvick has just two career cup series wins at Bristol (the last coming in 2016), but has 4 top 10’s in his last 5 starts there and 7 since 2015. Denny Hamlin is running great and scored a runner-up finish last week and the short-track ace is lined up for another top performance with 3 top-3 finishes in the Bristol Night Race over the last 4 years. A couple dark horses who have had great runs at Bristol of late without a win include Ryan Blaney & Kyle Larson. Larson has led 489 laps with 4 top 10’s over the last 5 races while Blaney has 379 laps led with 3 top 10’s. Ricky Stenhouse might also have his best shot to sneak a win this weekend at Bristol with his background and a top 4 finish last year.
Bristol Night Race Odds:
-Kyle Busch 5/1
-Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano 7/1
-Kyle Larson 8/1
-Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski 12/1
-Ryan Blaney 18/1
-Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer 20/1
-Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 30/1
-Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez 40/1
-William Byron 50/1
-Ryan Newman 100/1
Bristol DraftKings Picks:
Kyle Busch ($12,700): Looking at Busch’s track record at Bristol, I was locking him in. Then add in that starting position of 31st after flat out missing it on Friday and he’ll make his way through the field and traffic with ease.
Denny Hamlin ($10,700): Hamlin is on one of the best runs of his career and is showing championship caliber performance of late. He blazed to the top of the charts en route to a pole on Friday night and that car in clean air should lead a ton of laps and contend for the win.
Kurt Busch ($9,500): Busch has the results and the speed to warrant a selection at this price tag. He’ll run up front all day and contend for the win. Worth building him in to most lineups. I like his teammate Larson this weekend too, but Busch ranks ahead due to his results.
Ryan Blaney ($8,900): Blaney has led a ton of laps at Bristol without a win to show for it. He had the fastest consecutive lap average in final practice and starts 12th. Yes, please.
Erik Jones ($8,900): Jones finished 5th in this race last year and was 2nd fastest in consecutive lap average. That team was running great prior to a slight hiccup last week, but should bounce back on Saturday night. Starts just inside the top 10.
Jimmie Johnson ($7,000): Johnson’s price here is just begging you to take him. They made the crew chief change a few weeks back and while it hasn’t paid off, that 48 team is fighting for a playoff spot and starts 30th. I’ll take that value for a guy that has dominated at this track with a series-high TWENTY-ONE top 10’s.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,700): Matty D is having a career year and he just found out he’s out with the 95 at LFR next year. He’s bet on himself before, and now he’s going for broke. He showcased the speed all Friday and it should translate on Saturday night. Super value here, I smell a top 10 and maybe a first career win?
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,500): Stenhouse was listed as one of my potential dark horses above and has flown under the radar thus far. He was 7th fastest in final practice and starts 15th. He’ll have the track position to make a run at this one.
Paul Menard ($6,200): Menard rolls off 25th on Saturday night and scored a top 10 here back in the spring with a 6th place run. He was just outside the top 10 in consecutive lap average and is now in the middle of a playoff points battle after a sneaky solid season behind the No. 21.
David Ragan ($5,400): Another pick with some emotion behind it this weekend. Ragan announced this season will be his last as a full-time driver. He’s won here in the Xfinity Series and showcased speed on Friday. These under-funded teams can compete on short tracks, and Ragan can get around this place great.
Bristol Race Winner Prediction:
You could easily make a case for several of the above drivers, but Hamlin has been running better than just about anyone in the series of late and it’s time the short-track ace got a second notch in his Bristol belt. That track position and pit road assignment will put him in position to contend all night long.