Bass Pro Shops Night Race Predictions, Odds & Picks (Cup Series)

  • Joe Gibbs Racing is on a roll. Look for that to continue on Saturday at Bristol.
  • A strange question for this season: can Kyle Larson contend for the win?
  • Kurt Busch needs a strong performance to escape the Playoff bubble.

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As we predicted, Joe Gibbs Racing—not Hendrick Motorsports—has been the dominant entry in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff.

There’s a reason why Denny Hamlin won at Darlington, and Martin Truex Jr. followed with a victory at Richmond. The Gibbs drivers have mastered the 750-horsepower competition package.

Bristol Motor Speedway is another 750-horsepower track, and it’s the final venue in the Round of 16. After Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race, the Playoff field will be cut from 16 drivers to 12.

The event will be contested over 500 laps (266.5 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 125 and 250 laps. Kevin Harvick is the defending winner of the Night Race.

Look for Joe Gibbs Racing to Continue Its Dominance of the Round of 16

As we noted above, the 750-horsepower tracks—as opposed to the 550-horsepower intermediate speedways—have been fertile ground for the drivers of Joe Gibbs Racing. All three of the Round of 16 tracks mandate that competition package.

Denny Hamlin won his first race of the season in the Playoff opener at Darlington. Martin Truex Jr. led a 1-2-3 Joe Gibbs Racing to finish a week later at Richmond (a pick we nailed, by the way). Hamlin and Truex are locked into the Round of 12, thanks to their respective victories.

Now comes the night Race at Bristol, where JGR driver Kyle Busch is the leading active driver with eight wins. Busch is available through PointsBet Sportsbook at +450, and that’s where we think you should put your money.

We also like Joe Gibbs Racing as the winning organization (+170) and Kyle Busch to beat Kyle Larson head-to-head (-115), both through PointsBet.

Can Kyle Larson Score a Breakthrough Victory in the Night Race?

That’s a strange question to ask, given that Larson leads the NASCAR Cup Series with five wins this season.

But Larson has been overshadowed in the first round of the Playoff by the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, even though the regular-season champion already has advanced to the Round of 12 on points.

Larson has netted five top 10s in his last six Bristol starts, including a pair of runner-up results in 2018. Over that stretch, he has led 551 laps at the .533-mile track.

We like Larson to run well as the second choice to Kyle Busch at +500. We just don’t like him to beat Busch.

Kurt Busch Needs a Strong Performance at Bristol to Escape Playoff Bubble

An early wreck at Richmond in the second Playoff race has left Kurt Busch in a precarious position. He’s tied for 12th in the Playoff standings with Alex Bowman and just five points ahead of Tyler Reddick in 14th.

Bristol should be Kurt Busch’s salvation. With six wins at the track, Kurt is second only to his brother among active drivers. We think Kurt is worth a long-shot bet at +2000 via PointsBet Sportsbook.

We also like him to beat Ryan Blaney head-to-head at -117. No matter what, we expect Kurt to do enough to advance to the Round of 12 of the Playoff.

How to Watch Bass Pro Shops Night Race

Bass Pro Shops Night Race Information
Race Bass Pro Shops Night Race NASCAR Cup Series race
Location Bristol Motor Speedway
Time Saturday, September 18, 7:30 p.m. ET
How to Watch NBCSN

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Reid Spencer

Expert on NASCAR

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]