The NASCAR Sprint Cup series returns to the bright lights of prime time this week with the running of the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway and we’ve prepared a top value pick for you.
The green flag for Saturday night’s race is set to wave at 4:45 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
This past Sunday Jeff Gordon became the fourth Sprint Cup driver with three point-race wins this season by taking the checkered flag at Michigan. Kevin Harvick placed second and Joey Logano finished third. I went with Kyle Busch at +1500 as my value NASCAR pick, but he had a long day finishing 39th.
Kevin Harvick will be looking to parlay last week’s strong run at Michigan with a first-place finish this week as one of two +600 favorites to win this race. He jumped up to sixth-place in the current Sprint Cup standings with 687 points and it was the No. 4 car’s seventh finish in the top five this season. This also includes a win at Darlington back in April. Harvick had a miserable go of it in his first trip to Bristol this season with a 39th-place finish as a result of a wreck and even more value is lost in these odds with finishes outside the top 10 in his five previous trips around this short track oval.
The other co-favorite at +600 to win is Brad Keselowski. After a disappointing 2013 season, he has returned to the form that led to a Sprint Cup title the season before. He has raced the No. 2 car to three previous point-race victories and all-told he has placed in the top five nine times this season. This race team is sitting in third-place in the standings with 733 points. Keselowski posted back-to-back victories at Bristol in 2011 and 2012, but his average finishing position at this track is 14.3. He finished in 14th place in the first race here this season.
The next driver on the list at +700 odds to win on Saturday night is the revitalized veteran Jeff Gordon. He has been at the top of the list in total points for most of the season, but now he is tied at the top for most point-race victories, which is what it is all about this year in the Sprint Cup series. The No. 24 car has accumulated 816 total points on the strength of 16 finishes in the top 10 of the first 23 races on the schedule. Gordon had a solid seventh-place finish in the first race at Bristol this year, which followed a seventh-place finish in last year’s race. It has been awhile since he has won a Sprint Cup race on this track, but he does have a total of five career victories here.
Top Value Pick
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having the best year of his Sprint Cup career in 2014 with three victories and eight additional runs inside the top five. His No. 88 car is second in the standings with 813 points and has also placed in the top 10 in 16 of 23 races this year. That is the reason I am jumping all over his +1200 odds to win on Saturday's Bristol Night Race as my top value pick of the week. One of the reasons his odds are set so high is an average finishing position of 12.0 at this track. Junior finished 24th at Bristol earlier in the season and he took 10th in last year’s race.