2018 Food City 500 Odds, Tips & Predictions

Last Updated: 2018-04-12

food city 500 oddsTo Thunder Valley we go for the world’s fastest half-mile at Bristol Motor Speedway as the drivers of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series descend on Tennessee for the Food City 500. Technically, the oval is 0.533 miles at Bristol, so the 500 laps will result in 266.5 miles of racing action on April 15.

This is the eighth race of the NASCAR season for the Cup Series drivers and it will be a lighter workload for some. Because the Xfinity Series is running the first of four Dash 4 Cash events, Cup Series guys with more than five years of experience that have been running for points are not eligible to run in Saturday’s event. That shouldn’t matter, as all of the drivers are extremely familiar with Bristol, which is a stop twice a year on the NASCAR calendar.

Kyle Busch, who scored his first win of the season last week at Texas Motor Speedway, leads the field in points with a commanding lead over Joey Logano and the rest of the challengers. Busch now has 316 points and also leads the way in stage points with 89. Logano is second with 278 points. Ryan Blaney is a surprising third with 265 points. Kevin Harvick, who leads all drivers with three wins, is only fourth in points because he was penalized 20 points at Vegas and also lost some playoff points. Martin Truex Jr. rounds out the top five.

Clint Bowyer, the surprising winner at Martinsville two races ago, is sixth. The only other driver with a win this year are Austin Dillon, who is 13th in points. That could loom large when we get down to selecting the 16 playoff participants. Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larson round out the top 10.

Bristol Motor Speedway is about as straightforward as it gets for a race track with four turns, short straightaways, and lots of excited spectators. The night race in the summer is one of the hardest tickets to get in racing. It is built in almost cylindrical fashion like a coliseum, which is why it is the loudest venue in racing. There is simply nowhere for the sound to go, so those that love the roar of those high-powered engines need to make a pilgrimage, if they haven’t already.

Last year’s race was moved to Monday because of rain. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this week, as the drivers will head for Richmond for a Saturday race next weekend. The race favorite this week at 5Dimes Sportsbook is Kyle Busch at +400. Busch is a three-time winner of this race, but his most recent win came all the way back in 2011. He is also a three-time winner of the summer night race. You would think six wins at Bristol would rate high all-time, but Darrell Waltrip won 12 times at this track. Busch is a favorite for a reason, after winning the summer race and with five straight top-three finishes. He has finished 38th and 35th at Bristol in the spring race the last two years and 29th back in 2014, so he has not had much fortune lately.

Kevin Harvick is +500. Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing Ford vehicle has regularly been one of the best. Last week, he ran into some issues and fell behind the cars on the lead lap, but still managed to work all the way back up to second place. That gives you an idea of what kind of car he had. He won the first stage before falling off the pace. He has three wins this season, but short tracks like this aren’t necessarily his thing. He won this race back in 2005 and the summer race in 2016. Those are his only wins at the Cup Series level at Bristol. As good as he has been, this track really bunches everything and everybody up, so his elite car may not be as much of a deciding factor.

Martin Truex Jr. is +650, but he also hasn’t had a ton of luck at short tracks. He’s more of a 1.5-mile guy than a half-mile guy. In fact, Truex hasn’t had a top-five at Bristol since 2012. He is not a good bet at this price point this week. Kyle Larson at +725 is a better bet in this price range, though he still isn’t ideal. Larson did lead the most laps at Bristol last year in the spring and finished ninth in the summer. He did win on the three-quarter-mile track at Richmond, but three of his four wins last year came on two-mile raceways and his lone win in 2016 did as well.

With the cars all bunched up, a lot of craziness can happen. This is the type of race where you want to look down the board a bit. Denny Hamlin at +1350 is a decent value play. Hamlin runs very well in restrictor plate races and on short tracks. He likes racing in traffic a lot more than other drivers. He doesn’t have a win here since 2012, but he was third in the summer race in each of the last three years. The spring race hasn’t been as kind to him, but this is a race that suits him fairly well because of the short track.

Joey Logano at +1350 is also another decent option. Logano was fifth last year in this race and had back-to-back wins in the summer in 2014 and 2015. He hasn’t been able to take down this race, but last year’s fifth-place outcome was his best career finish in the spring at Bristol. He is a two-time winner on the small track at Richmond, so these types of races also suit him well.

Coverage of the Food City 500 will be on Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. ET start time on Fox.

Odds as of April 10, 3 p.m. ET

Kyle Busch +400

Kevin Harvick +500

Martin Truex Jr +650

Kyle Larson +725

Erik Jones +1350

Denny Hamlin +1350

Joey Logano +1350

Brad Keselowski +1350

Chase Elliott +1350

Jimmie Johnson +1650

Ryan Blaney +1650

Kurt Busch +2250

Clint Bowyer +2250

Aric Almirola +4400

Ricky Stenhouse Jr +8800

Ryan Newman +8800

Daniel Suarez +8800

Jamie McMurray +8800

Trevor Bayne +11500

Paul Menard +11500

Alex Bowman +11500

Austin Dillon +11500

William Byron +22500

Kasey Kahne +55000

Darrell Wallace Jr +55000

AJ Allmendinger +55000

Ty Dillon +55000

Chris Buescher +55000

Michael McDowell +225000

 

-END OF 2018 PREVIEW-

 

After a week off to celebrate the Easter holiday with family and friends, the roar of NASCAR is back this weekend at the loudest track in the country. Bristol Motor Speedway is the site for this weekend’s Food City 500, the eighth feature-length race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. This is the first of two scheduled stops at Bristol, with the next one coming on August 19.

Affectionately known as “Thunder Valley”, the concrete half-mile is one of the toughest tickets to grab in the world of NASCAR, especially for the night race in April. The track actually measures 0.533 miles with banking in the 26 to 30-degree range. Weather used to be a bigger factor for this race when it was held in late March or very early April, but it was moved to mid-April in 2015. Five hundred laps around the track generally take a little over three hours with the speeds that this race has been run at over the last three years.

Bristol Motor Speedway holds 162,000 spectators and has been one of the top draws in the sport for a long time. It will be interesting to see how attendance figures look for this weekend, as NASCAR has been having some attendance issues at other tracks around the country.

Heading into this race, the standings are certainly interesting. Kyle Larson is at the top of the pecking order with 315 points. Chase Elliott is second with 298 points. Martin Truex Jr. is third with 275 points. Brad Keselowski is fourth with 274 points, but only because of a 35-point penalty for failing a post-race inspection at Phoenix in the fourth feature-length race of the year. There’s a huge gap to fifth, where Joey Logano sits with 243 points. Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick, who also lost points due to a penalty, round out the top 10. Remember that NASCAR officials changed the scoring system to include points for the first 25 percent and second 25 percent of the race and also points for the Daytona Duels at the start of the season.

Looking at the odds for this weekend’s race, Kyle Busch is the 5Dimes Sportsbook favorite at +550. Toyotas have done very well at Bristol over the last few years, Busch included. He has three career wins at Bristol, two behind the wheel of a Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. He hasn’t won this race since 2011, but JGR drivers have won each of the last two, with Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards taking the checkered flag. Busch is a two-time winner of the night race in August as well, with his last win there coming back in 2010. Busch has been close to a win a couple times. He was second on the short track at Martinsville and led the most laps. He also led the most laps at Phoenix and finished third. Busch finished 38th here last year and missed the race in 2015. He was 39th in the night race, but led the most laps. He also led the most laps in the 2015 night race.

Brad Keselowski is +650 to take down his third win of the year. Keselowski was victorious at Atlanta and on the short track at Martinsville. He had a string of five straight top-five finishes snapped by finishing sixth at Texas. Keselowski won this race back in 2012 in a Dodge, but he hasn’t had the same success in a Ford. He won the 2011 night race. Keselowski has finished 18th, 35th, and 14th the last three years in this race. He was 33rd, sixth, and second in the night race over the last three years. He generally runs well at Martinsville and has had success here, so he’s always a decent bet on the small tracks.

Keselowski’s Penske Racing teammate, Joey Logano, is +700. Logano has never won the spring race at Bristol, but he’s a two-time winner of the summer race. He won back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015 before Kevin Harvick won last year. Logano has been on a really nice run this season. He won the first stage at Phoenix, but finished 31st. Outside of that bad finish, he’s been no worse than ninth in any race and no worse than sixth in a feature-length race. He’s finished fifth, fourth, and third over the last three events, so we’ll see if he keeps that pattern and finishes second or if he can break through.

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson are both +750. Larson has really come on strong, but he was 17th at Martinsville with the pole, so maybe short tracks aren’t his thing. Harvick can win just about anywhere and he does have a win here in this race, as well as one in last year’s rain-delayed night race. Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. are both +875 in this spot, with each winning a stage on the short track at Martinsville. Either one would be a decent pick. They have both been consistent this season. In Truex’s favor is the fact that Toyota has run pretty well here in recent years.

The value isn’t totally there on Matt Kenseth, who hasn’t been highly thought of this season, but the 45-year-old has been very successful at this track. Kenseth won this race in 2015 and has three career wins in the fall race. At +1100, it’s clear that his track form has skewed the price a little bit, but he’s worthy of consideration given his past successes. He ran into trouble and finished 36th last year. His team isn’t clicking right now, but he’s still a consideration.

Those really looking deep down the board may want to consider Kurt Busch. It’s been a while since Kurt Busch went to victory lane at Bristol, but he won this race four out of five years from 2002-06. He had a clean sweep in 2003. Busch’s win in the Daytona 500 with the restrictor plate was a sign that he can still race in traffic and be right there to benefit if something happens. With a half-mile track, things are definitely bunched up.

Racing begins on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET with Fox carrying the 2017 Food City 500.

Full odds for the race as of 4/19:

Kyle Busch +550

Brad Keselowski +650

Joey Logano +700

Kevin Harvick +750

Kyle Larson +750

Chase Elliott +875

Martin Truex Jr +875

Matt Kenseth +1100

Jimmie Johnson +1150

Denny Hamlin +1650

Clint Bowyer +2000

Jamie McMurray +2750

Dale Earnhardt Jr +2750

Ryan Blaney +3300

Kurt Busch +3300

Erik Jones +5500

Kasey Kahne +5500

Ryan Newman +6600

Austin Dillon +8000

Ricky Stenhouse Jr +8000

 

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