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NASCAR Best Bets for Food City 500

When the NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Bristol for the fifth race of the 2024 season, it will mark a return to the pavement for the spring race following three years on the dirt configuration. The NASCAR betting odds believe Kyle Larson will be the first repeat-winner of the year, giving him +450 odds to take the checkered flag. But will we see the fifth different winner of the season? Let’s break down our NASCAR best bets for the Food City 500.


NASCAR Best Bets for Food City 500
NASCAR Best Bets for Food City 500

Larson Leads Field Of Contenders

It makes sense that Larson is the cream of the crop as he has three straight top-fives at Bristol, including a 2021 victory. He showed he is still the most dominant driver in the field when he swept the stages at Las Vegas two weeks ago. But who might take him down? Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney has three-straight top-fives, though he has finished outside the top-10 in four of his last five Bristol starts. Second-year driver Ty Gibbs also appears to be knocking on the door of his first Cup victory, finishing in the top-five the last two weeks. We don’t think he will break through this week, though we do like his +200 top-five odds.

While fellow Toyota driver Tyler Reddick has shown high speed, we are going with a different Toyota driver: Denny Hamlin. It seems every year, the question is asked if Hamlin will finally win the elusive Cup championship (his NASCAR odds currently sit at +650 to do so). He isn’t off to the best start, with just one top-10, but he won at Bristol last year, has three career wins at the Last Great Colosseum, and always seems to show speed on the short tracks.

We believe Hamlin will kick off his championship effort with a win on Sunday at +550 odds.


RFK Looks To Capitalize On Strong Phoenix Showing

The first three races of the year did not go according to plan for the RFK Racing duo of Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski. After winning three races in 2023, Buescher had not been a threat to win, with just one top-10 at Atlanta. Keselowski, meanwhile, crashed out of the first two races and has watched his winless-streak climb to 102 races.

But despite not showing a ton of speed in practice at Phoenix, the teammates climbed through the field to finish in the top-five. Buescher also has been excellent of late at Bristol, winning in 2022 while finishing fourth last year. Both drivers have very appealing +1200 odds to win the race, though we are more enticed by their +200 NASCAR odds to finish in the top-five, particularly Buescher.


Possible Breakthrough for Stewart-Haas Squadron?

Outside of Noah Gragson, last season’s struggles have continued for Stewart-Haas Racing. Ryan Preece has been firmly mediocre, with three 23rd-place finishes and only one top-20. Rookie Josh Berry has yet to finish better than 20th himself. But Bristol poses an opportunity for these two, who both came up dominating local paved short tracks.

Preece has five-straight finishes inside the top-10, including a ninth in 2020, and had a top-five at the similarly configured Richmond last summer. While Berry has never won at Bristol in the Xfinity Series, he has run well at Richmond and Martinsville. The NASCAR odds makers prefer Berry’s chances at a top-10, giving him +350 odds, while Preece has +525.

As for Gragson, he has been incredibly impressive so far, a diamond in the rough for the organization. He had a great run at Vegas, finishing sixth, and ran inside the top-10 for most of the Phoenix race before settling for a 12th-place finish. His odds for his third top-10 of the year are +275. We actually prefer Preece of the three, due to his solid track-record at Bristol and more appealing odds.


Hocevar Looks to Continue Solid Start

Outside of Gragson, one of the most pleasant surprises in the garage has been Carson Hocevar, driving for Spire Motorsports. After wrecking out early in the Daytona 500, he has finished in the top-20 each of the last three races, outpacing teammates Corey LaJoie and Zane Smith. Could this be the race he breaks through for his first top-10? We think there is a good chance.

Last year, driving for Legacy Motor Club in just his fourth-career Cup race, Hocevar ran in the top-10 at Bristol nearly all night before late-race contact relegated to 11th. He had a potential top-10 going last week before a poor pit stop mired him in the middle of the field where it was difficult to pass. If he can get another strong starting position, we could see him cashing in on his first-career top-10.



Questions Of The Day

Which driver is most likely to win their second race of the year?

We believe Kyle Larson has the better chance to win than William Byron, Daniel Suarez and Christopher Bell.

What will be the winning manufacturer?

Toyota, at +130 odds.

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