NASCAR Picks & Predictions for Food City 500

David Schwab

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:26 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014 5:26 PM UTC

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series will make its first stop of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway for the running of the Food City 500. Sunday’s race is set to get underway at 10 a.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on FOX. Where does the value lie for our NASCAR picks?

It only took me three weeks to cash-in on a 10/1 value pick with Brad Keselowski’s victory last week in Las Vegas. Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued to burn up the track with his third-straight top two finish and Paul Menard took third in last Sunday’s race.

The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Sunday’s race along with my top value pick based on odds provided by Bovada.


Kyle Busch has been opened as the odds-on favorite to win this week at 7/2. The No. 18 car finished just outside the top 10 last week in Las Vegas by taking 11th after starting 20th in the field. This followed a ninth-place finish the week before in Phoenix and a very disappointing 19th-place run at Daytona. Busch is a very streaky driver so despite this slow start there is still some solid value in his odds given his past performance at Bristol. He came in second in last year’s race to go along with five previous Sprint Cup victories at this track. Four of the five victories came in this race. Busch’s average finishing position here is 9.9.

There are three 7/1 second-favorites for Sunday’s race led by defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. He has yet to find the winner’s circle this season, but the No. 48 car should still get solid grades for consistency with a fifth-place finish at Daytona followed by sixth place finishes in its last two races. The team is currently in fourth place in the Sprint Cup standings and just 16 points out of the lead. When it comes to racing at Bristol, it has been a mixed bag for Johnson in recent years. Last season was a disaster with two finishes outside the top 20, but this followed a string of eight top-10 finishes in his previous nine trips around this track including a victory in this race in 2010.

Another 7/1 second favorite to take the checkered flag this Sunday is Matt Kenseth. Last season’s runner-up to the title is currently in seventh-place in this season’s standings with 105 total points, which is 28 points out of the lead. After a solid sixth-place showing at Daytona, the No. 20 car posted a 12th-place finish at Phoenix and a 10th-place finish last week in Las Vegas, so while the current form is respectable it is not performing at the level you would expect from this team. Sapping even more value out of Kenseth’s odds is a 35th-place finish in last year’s race. He did respond in a big way with a victory in the second race at Bristol last season so he has proven he can win at this track.

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Top Value Pick

The third driver at 7/1 is Kevin Harvick, but if you are looking for some longer odds for Sunday’s race then take a hard look at Kasey Kahne at 10/1 as my top value pick to win. He is off to a rough start in his first three races, but there is still some solid value in these odds given what he brings to the table as a driver that knows how to win. The No. 5 car has gotten steadily better each week and it cracked the top 10 at Las Vegas with an eighth-place finish. The real value in these odds is Kahne’s recent performance at this track. He followed-up a victory in last year’s race with a second-place finish at Bristol later in the season.

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