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Martin Truex Jr.
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Yes, Kyle Larson’s record at Bristol Motor Speedway is impressive enough. In 14 starts at the track, he has one victory, four top fives, and nine top 10s.
And, yes, Larson has dominated the short tracks this season, having won points races at Richmond and Martinsville and the exhibition NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro.
But when it comes to short tracks, .533-mile Bristol is a different animal. It’s a high-banked, high-speed concrete track that’s closer to one-mile Dover than it is to relatively flat Richmond or Martinsville.
At Dover, Larson finished 32nd in May, after being collected in an early wreck.
Bottom line? We don’t think Larson should be a prohibitive favorite based on his record at other dissimilar short tracks, so we’re passing on the chance to back him at +450 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
But we do like his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, William Byron, to beat Denny Hamlin head-to-head at -115 (DraftKings).
Christopher Bell got his first Bristol victory this year, but it wasn’t on the traditional concrete. For Bell’s victory, the track was covered with Tennessee red clay.
For a driver like Bell, who grew up racing open-wheeled cars on dirt, that was like throwing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch.
If Bell wins on the pavement in the Night Race, he’ll be the first—and probably the last—driver to win on two different surfaces at Bristol in the same season. It’s unlikely the dirt version will be on next year’s schedule.
The high-banked concrete surface will be a challenge. Bell has four starts on Bristol concrete, and he did finish fourth in last year’s Playoff race.
But we’re not counting on the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to win on Saturday. A pit crew swap with Ty Gibbs hasn’t paid dividends, and we feel Bell isn’t a good value at +850 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Why would a fourth victory at Bristol constitute a breakthrough for Brad Keselowski? Obviously, the driver of the No. 6 Ford already has won there three times.
What Keselowski hasn’t done is win a race—anywhere—as the co-owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, an organization Bad Brad has revitalized since he added his name to the masthead.
Teammate Chris Buescher has won three times this season, but Keselowski is still seeking his maiden victory, and we think that will come on Saturday Night in the elimination race of the NASCAR Cup Playoffs’ Round of 16.
At +850 via DraftKings, we consider Keselowski a much better value than the aforementioned Christopher Bell at the same price.
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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. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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