NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol (Cup Series) - Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks
- For the first time in its history, the All-Star Race will be held on a short track, so expect plenty of action on Wednesday night.
- Despite his stellar record at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch isn’t among the top three favorites.
- Rookie and surprise Kentucky winner Cole Custer has shown excellent speed at Bristol in the Xfinity Series. Could he be an All-Star contender?
|What||NASCAR All-Star Race|
|Where||Bristol Motor Speedway|
|When||Wednesday, July 15, 8:30 p.m. EST (Coverage of All-Star Open at 7 p.m. EST)|
|How to watch||FS1|
The dynamic of the NASCAR All-Star Race should change dramatically with the first visit of the event to Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday night. This is the first time in its history the All-Star Race will be contested on a short track. In fact, it’s only the second time the non-points exhibition race will take place at a venue other than Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Wednesday’s All-Star Race features a field of 16 drivers, to be augmented by three-stage winners from the All-Star Open, which precedes the main event. After the Open, one additional driver will be added to the All-Star Race field via the NASCAR Fan Vote, bringing the total number of drivers to 20.
Currently, there are 22 drivers on the entry list for the Open, which will be contested in three stages of 35, 35 and 15 laps, respectively. The All-Star Race proper features four respective stages of 55, 35, 35 and 15 laps, with only green-flag laps counting in the final segment. Kyle Larson won last year’s All-Star Race but is no longer competing in the NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol July 15 Odds
|Martin Truex Jr.||+800|
The odds for the All-Star Race are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Move to a Short Track Is a Game-Changer for All-Star Race
One thing is certain about Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway—it will be different. With the one exception of the 1986 race at Atlanta, the non-points All-Star Race has been the exclusive province of 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This year’s event will take place at the high-speed, high-banked .533-mile concrete track at Bristol, billed as the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Given that many NASCAR Cup Series drivers learned their craft on the nation’s short tracks, the move to Bristol should enlarge the universe of potential winners.
There’s also a practical reason for the move. Tennessee has progressed more quickly toward reopening than has North Carolina, and between 20,000 and 30,000 fans are expected for Wednesday night’s festivities. Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns both Bristol and Charlotte and opted to shift the race. The seating capacity at Bristol is more than 150,000, allowing plenty of room for social distancing.
Kyle Busch Is Conspicuously Absent from Top Three Favorites
Under normal circumstances, with the NASCAR All-Star Race coming to Bristol, you’d be inclined to hand the trophy to Kyle Busch. After all, the reigning Cup champion is the leading active winner at Thunder Valley with eight victories to his credit.
But this is not a normal year, to say the least. Busch (+700) is winless through the first 17 races of the season and can point to a litany of issues that have kept him out of Victory Lane. First and foremost, Busch simply hasn’t had the speed to match the likes of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin (+550) or Kevin Harvick (+450), both of whom have won four races thus far.
Moreover, mechanical problems on the No. 18 have cropped up to spoil good runs on more than one occasion, starting with an engine failure at Daytona that, in retrospect, now seems like a harbinger of races to follow. On the other hand, Busch (2017) and Hamlin (2015) are the only Toyota drivers to have won an All-Star Race, and in Busch’s case, the switch to Bristol represents a real opportunity to end the current downward spiral.
Can Cole Custer Pull Off Another Unlikely Victory?
Rookie Cole Custer was an 11th-hour addition to the All-Star Race field. Why? Because his surprise victory at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday propelled him into the event as a 2020 Cup winner. The 16 drivers already in the race either won at NASCAR’s highest level in 2019 or 2020 or are past All-Star Race winners or past series champions currently competing full-time.
Is Custer an outlandish pick for the All-Star main event? He has one Cup start at Thunder Valley, and that ended badly on May 31—in a crash that took the rookie driver out of the race in 35th place. In the Xfinity Series, however, Custer showed consistent speed at the high-banked concrete track.
In six Xfinity starts, Custer (+4000) qualified fifth or better five times, including two pole positions. Though he posted only two top-five finishes, his speed could pay dividends in a short race with short stages. Yes, Custer is a long shot, but the odds against him at Kentucky were far longer.
Kyle Busch (+700)—Because of his struggles this year, Busch’s chances have been discounted too heavily. It’s high time he ended his slump. (And if you’re inclined to bet on the Open—yes, there are odds for that race, too—Matt DiBenedetto looks like the best choice at +650).
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association.
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