NASCAR’s playoffs continue with the last Round of 16 race on Saturday evening and we have a betting pick with analysis for you.
NASCAR Cup Series: Bass Pro Shops Night Race
Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Bristol
We have reached a crucial point in this year’s NASCAR playoffs. Remember that the Round of 16 consisted of three separate races. Saturday is the third race. This all means that, after Saturday, four drivers will be eliminated from further playoff contention.
Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Denny Hamlin have clinched their spots in the next round. Meanwhile, the final, 12th spot is very much up for grabs as Cole Custer, William Byron, and Clint Bowyer (who currently holds the 12th spot) are all within eight points of each other.
Bristol and Race Info
Saturday’s NASCAR event takes place at Bristol Motor Speedway. While Bristol may no longer be known as the track with the steepest banking, its track is still very steep. The turns are banked at 26 to 30 degrees, while the straightaways are banked at six to 10 degrees. Because banking helps enhance speed, greater banking promises a more entertaining race.
This upcoming race is coined the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. Overall, it consists of 500 laps and three stages. Stage 1 and Stage 2 both require 125 laps each, Stage 3 requires 250 laps. In completing 250 .533-mile laps, drivers will have accumulated 266.5 miles.
Recall that NASCAR has developed a formula to decide the starting position. Brad Keselowski, who won the last race, will take pole position.
One may argue that Bristol Motor Speedway is the most difficult racing track that NASCAR’s Cup Series has to offer. Yellow caution flags are very common — races at this track regularly see eight or more of them — as a result of all the contact that takes place between cars.
Lack of space on the track is evident in the tight turns. Also, the straights are narrow. If too many drivers try to level with each other, a few will easily begin hitting the hard walls.
Given these details, race history emerges as an important statistical tool for assessing which drivers are more reliable at this track. The best way for a driver to prove that he can succeed at Bristol is for him to build a history of doing so.
Stay Away From Kevin Harvick
To some, investing in Kevin Harvick seems like a safe choice at worst and a solid bet in other cases. But given his average driver rating and average finishing position in both recent and overall attempts at Bristol, he is a driver that you do not want to invest in.
He’s failed to finish top-10 in his last three attempts at Bristol. In 2019, he even finished 39th. Stay away from Harvick with your NASCAR betting picks.
If You Like Long Shots
If you like to go for a higher payout, Clint Bowyer is going to be the driver that you want to invest in. Given the reality about how tight the pursuit of the 12th spot is, he is driving on added desperation. More clearly, he boasts an excellent history at this track. While Chase Elliott technically has the best average finishing position here among active drivers, you should not prioritize investing in him over Bowyer.
Bowyer’s average finishing position is as “low” as it is because he suffered some extremely rocky performances in Bristol in the earlier parts of his career. It would be ridiculous to rule out Bowyer on the basis of performances that took place at last eight years ago — before 2012. But that is what bettors who overlook Bowyer do.
Since 2017, Bowyer has the best average finishing position (7.29) at Bristol. In this time span, he’s finished second-place two times. You can bet on Bowyer at +400 to finish in the top 3 at the top sports betting sites.
I want to rely on Kyle Busch. His average finishing position since 2017 at this track looks worse because of one bad outcome in April 2017. Since that race, he has five top-four finishes in six tries at Bristol. Of those five, three were victories.
Kyle Busch is flying under the radar a bit because of the misleading statistics. However, he has grown to become a consistent and solid performer at Bristol. Top sportsbooks are offering a higher payout for him to win. I prefer to take the ‘top-three finish’ option because it’s safer and still being offered at plus money.