Four drivers’ championship hopes will be dashed following the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, with regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr., defending Cup champion Joey Logano and soon-to-be-retired Kevin Harvick among those clinging to their playoff lives. But it’s Kyle Larson who is the NASCAR betting odds favorite to take the checkered flag.
Larson already punched his ticket to the round of 12 following his playoff-opening win at Darlington, his third of the season. Where did the other two take place? Short tracks. Larson won at Richmond and Martinsville in the spring before a lackluster finish at the July Richmond race. The 2021 champion is red-hot and rightfully the favorite to win the race at +600.
Motorsports Pick: Kyle Larson +600 to win the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
Perfect Spot to Bet Truex
Kansas was a disaster for Truex, the regular-season champion and previous championship favorite. He cut a tire just three laps in and clobbered the wall, prematurely ending his day and leaving him seven points below the cutline.
The 2017 champion has never been a short-track ace and his Bristol stats leave a lot to be desired, but you can never count the No. 19 team out. His +1600 odds to win are as good as it gets for Truex, though if you’re looking for a more modest bet, his odds to finish in the top five are +250.
We also think now is the best time to get in on his +800 odds to win the championship. Should he advance, the points reset will put him back atop the standings and in control of the NASCAR betting predictions. He just needs to survive this week.
Motorsports Pick: Martin Truex Jr. +800 to win NASCAR Cup Series Championship 2023
Logano, Harvick Cling to Final Transfer Spot
Truex is chasing fellow Cup champion Kevin Harvick, who had a solid, albeit unspectacular 11th-place finish at Kansas, leaving him in the final transfer spot. Amidst a dismal year for Stewart-Haas Racing, the one thing they’ve figured out is their short track setup, with all four drivers showing speed.
Harvick has three straight top-10s at the Last Great Colosseum, including a first and second in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Like Truex, his odds to win the race sit at +1600, with a more modest +240 to score a top-five in NASCAR best bets.
It’s been a quiet but solid playoff for the defending champ Logano. He notched a fifth-place finish last week, allowing him 12 points of breathing room. He just needs a solid finish to advance to the round of 12 and Bristol poses a strong opportunity. He’s been excellent on short tracks this season, with a finish no worse than seventh and two top-fives.
His -120 odds to score a top-10 seem more than reasonable to accomplish.
Motorsport Picks: Kevin Harvick +240 to finish Top 5. Joey Logano -120 to finish Top 10
RFK Eyes Repeat at Bristol
The beginning of the RFK Racing renaissance can be pinpointed to last year’s Bristol night race. Co-owner Brad Keselowski led 109 laps and looked to be the favorite before being bested by teammate Chris Buescher, who took home his second career victory.
He’s notched three more wins this season and boasted an impressive five-month top-20 streak that was snapped last week. Buescher hadn’t been strong on short tracks this season until his dominant victory at Richmond in July.
But it is not Buescher that’s viewed as one of the favorites. Rather, it’s Keselowski, who boasts the second-best NASCAR betting odds to win the race at +800. In addition to his strong run last year, Kez tallied top-10s in three of the previous four races while driving for Team Penske, including a win in 2020.
We expect both drivers to do enough to advance to the next round, though Keselowski’s odds make him slightly less appealing. A safer pick in NASCAR Prop Bets would be taking Buescher at -160 to score a top-10
Motorsport Pick: Chris Buescher -160 to finish Top-10
Jones, Stewart-Haas Drivers Among Top-10 Picks
We hit again last week on our non-playoff drivers when Chase Elliott scored a sixth-place finish and looked to have winning stuff at points. We would have gone two-for-two, but the late caution knocked rookie Ty Gibbs outside the top-10. But the hot pick has been Erik Jones, who has two-straight top-10s and was even leading the race last week with just two laps remaining. Plus, he had a pair of top-fives for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020.
If you want to ride the hot hand, Jones’ top-10 NASCAR online betting odds sit at +285.
But we’ve got our eyes firmly on the rest of the Stewart-Haas contingent, outside of Harvick. Veteran Aric Almirola finished eighth at Martinsville in the spring and did the same when he impressively fought back from a pit road penalty at Richmond. But if you’re looking for a higher payout, look to teammate Chase Briscoe (+325), who finished fifth at Martinsville and just outside the top-10 at both Richmond races.
But our favorite pick is Ryan Preece, who has been in the headlines following his horrifying crash at Daytona. Preece has always been something of a short track ace, particularly at the local levels. He sat on the pole and won stage one at Martinsville, then ran in the top-five all day in the summer Richmond race, scoring a season-best finish of fifth. We like all these best NASCAR prop bets, though Preece’s +550 odds makes him our favorite.