Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kyle Busch favored to win Food City 500 at Bristol

LAS VEGAS – Dale Earnhardt Jr. has done very well at Bristol over his career, grabbing a win in 2004. When averaging the past 20 Bristol finishes of every driver, no one has a better number than Junior's 9.4, which is kind of surprising considering Kyle Busch (9.9) won five of the past 14 races at the short track.

A couple of things make Junior very attractive this week at 8-to-1 to win Sunday's Food City 500.

First of all, there is no pressure on him, as he is virtually set for the Chase and got the monkey off his back early with a win at Daytona.

His roll didn't start just this year, either. It's a continuation from last season, when he finished in eighth place or better in eight of the final nine races. It's hard to believe that under the new Chase rules – which put a greater emphasis on wins – that the winless Junior would have won the Championship, but it’s true.

More on Junior: Now's the time to bet him to win title

Then, when you factor in his past success at Bristol – on all variations of the half-mile layout – he's hard to discount this week.

Best Bet
Brad Keselowski's Penske Racing team looks like it has some things figured out that others are still searching for. The No. 22 Ford has been one of the best cars at vastly different track layouts through the first three weeks this season, and cashed in with a win at Las Vegas.

Bristol is yet another different type of track, but outside of Junior, Keselowski looks to be the most impressive so far. The questions surrounding the Joe Gibbs cars – which have done extremely well at Bristol in the past – makes Keseloswski an even better candidate to win this week.

If Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin – who have nine wins between them at Bristol and are among the favorites to win this week – are down just a notch, the chances of Keselowski, who is dialed in, go up, making 7-to-1 look pretty good. Beyond Keselowski's succees this season, he has the tenacity to win at Bristol, matched only by Kyle Busch.

Busch is the 6-to-1 favorite at Bristol, based mostly on his Bristol wins there, but he hasn't won in his past five starts at the track. Two of the recent wins that Busch failed to get were taken by Keselowski.

In this race last season, Busch finished second to Kasey Kahne, who is 8-to-1 to win Sunday. Kahne is an interesting look this week. Not only did he win the spring event, he also finished second in the fall night race, which was won by Kenseth.

The trend over the years has been a couple of drivers piling up multiple Bristol wins in a hurry. Most recently, it was Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Keselowski that each grabbed multiple wins in back-to-back seasons. Kahne joining that group wouldn't be a surprise.

Be sure to check back Saturday, as we'll file a report shortly after final practices that will include our Final Driver Ratings. Before those practices, this looks to us like a Keselowski-Kyle 1-2 finish, with Junior, Kahne and Harvick battling for third place.

Read More Here...Bristol odds

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