The third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is slated to be run this Saturday night. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race will also serve as the first playoff elimination race. The field of 16 drivers contending for a championship will be whittled down to 12 following Saturday’s race. It doesn’t get much better than short-track racing under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway, as any NASCAR betting enthusiast can attest. Add in the extra motivation that comes with this being a cutoff race in the playoffs and it seems safe to say we can expect the beating and banging to be turned up a notch. Momentum and driver history at “The Last Great Colosseum” will both be weighed heavily when combing the NASCAR betting odds for this week’s picks.
The following article offers a breakdown of the NASCAR odds and best NASCAR betting picks for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Info
60th Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
Date: Saturday, September 18, 2021
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway — Bristol, TN
Distance: 266.5 miles
Stages: Three (Laps 1-125; 126-250; 251-500)
Pole Sitter: Martin Truex Jr.
Defending Champion: Kevin Harvick
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Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race NASCAR Betting Odds
A quick glance at his last seven finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway shows just why Kyle Busch (+400) is the NASCAR betting favorite to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race. Dating back to this race in 2017, Busch has amassed three wins and six (yes, six) top-5 finishes in seven races on the concrete oval. He came home runner-up in this very event a year ago. Thanks to crashing out at Darlington in the playoff opener, Busch is still in need of a solid finish on Saturday to advance into the Round of 12.
When weighing Busch as this week’s favorite atop the NASCAR odds, it’s also worth noting that the first two playoff races were dominated by fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Denny Hamlin (+600) picked up his long-overdue first win of the year at Darlington to open the postseason. Last week saw Martin Truex Jr. (+1800) overcome a penalty to win going away at Richmond. It certainly wouldn’t be a shock to see Busch go out and complete a Round of 16 sweep for JGR this weekend.
Larson Still Lurking
The NASCAR Cup Series has been dominated by Kyle Larson (+450) for the better part of the 2021 season. His five wins still lead all drivers. Even when the No. 5 car hasn’t been getting all the way to victory lane, he has still been throwing down solid finishes on a near-weekly basis. Richmond Raceway was known to be one of his tougher tracks going into last week. The fact that Larson still pulled out a seventh-place finish speaks volumes. While he has never won a Cup Series race at Bristol, Larson quietly has two runner-ups and five top-10s in his last six starts. He isn’t the NASCAR betting favorite this week, but the odds suggest he is very much a contender.
Bristol Success Runs in the Busch Family
NASCAR betting favorite Kyle Busch is not the only driver from the Busch family who can claim a history of success at “The Bullring”. Older brother Kurt Busch (+1800) has put up some mighty fine numbers in his own right over the years at the Tennessee track. Over his last ten starts, Busch has an average finish of 12.8. The stretch includes a Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race win in 2018, four top-5s and six top-10s. Despite his misfortune last week at Richmond, Kurt still sits one point to the good when it comes to the NASCAR Playoffs cutline. A win would remove all doubt and automatically lock the No. 1 car into the Round of 12.
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race NASCAR Betting Picks
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Winner: Denny Hamlin (+600)
Given Denny Hamlin’s stats at Bristol and recent form, it’s almost a tad surprising to see him priced as long as he is ahead of Saturday night’s race. Hamlin ranks third among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with an average finish of 10.8 over the last ten races at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile”. He won this very race back in 2019 and comes in with Uncle Mo on his side. After winning the Southern 500 to open the NASCAR Playoffs two weeks ago, Hamlin a great deal of last weekend’s night race at Richmond on his way to a runner-up finish. With NASCAR betting value being relative, 6-1 odds on Hamlin are well worth a wager. Bettors have the perfect storm of promising track stats and the No. 11 team’s impressive recent form to support this outright pick.
Other Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race NASCAR Betting Picks
Top 10 Finish: Ross Chastain (+130)
Even though he is not a part of the NASCAR Playoffs this season, Ross Chastain has been running right up front with the championship contenders the last two weeks. His seventh-place showing at Richmond marked his second consecutive top-10 result. Chastain was an even more impressive third in the Southern 500 the week before. He has been the top finishing non-playoff driver in each of the first two postseason races. Chastain and the No. 42 team ride a wave of momentum into Bristol this weekend. While his NASCAR betting odds have been lowered tremendously compared to where they were two weeks ago, bettors can still take advantage of a plus-money return on a top-10 result.
Best Finish in Group D: Daniel Suarez (+320)
All four drivers in Group D are not a part of the NASCAR Playoffs this season. Of the bunch, Daniel Suarez stands out as having the best history and stats at Bristol Motor Speedway. While all of his numbers on the concrete surface to date came with other teams, Trackhouse Racing is by no means inferior equipment. In eight previous starts, he has scored a pair of top-10s and seven finishes of 18th or better for an average of 15.3. Heck, for what it’s worth, Suarez even ran well on the dirt surface here back in the spring, pulling out a shocking top-5 finish.
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When one lines up Suarez’s success at Bristol with the NASCAR betting odds to win this group, tremendous value is revealed. No other driver in Group D has an average finish better than 17.5. That belongs to co-favorite Matt DiBenedetto. The other two drivers in this pod, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Bubba Wallace, each have an average finish outside of the top-20. The stats disagree with Suarez being a longshot in this foursome. Look to capitalize with your Bass Pro Shops Night Race NASCAR picks.
Best Finish in Group F: Ryan Preece (+240)
Group F features four drivers who likely won’t factor into the race for the win on Saturday. At +240 odds, Ryan Preece is the second choice. There are rumblings that Preece might very well be in direct competition with teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for a ride in 2022. With JTG Daugherty Racing announcing that it would downsize to one car next season, one of these two talented drivers will not be able to return. With his job potentially on the line, Preece certainly has plenty of reason to run and finish well the rest of the way.
Speaking of finishing well, Preece has quietly done just that in recent Cup Series races at Bristol. He came home with a top-10 showing in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race just last year and has three top-20 showings in his four career starts. When it comes to his Group F competition, Preece leads the way in terms of average finish. While playoff driver Michael McDowell has also run well in his last two starts here, he is in the midst of a horrible stretch. Meanwhile, group favorite Chase Briscoe has never run a Cup race here and group longshot Corey LaJoie is unlikely to have the power necessary to compete on a short track. We’ll roll with the No. 37 car in our NASCAR betting picks.
Race Matchup: Tyler Reddick (+100) vs. Alex Bowman
Both Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman enter the Bass Pro Shops Night Race on the wrong side of the playoff cutline. As a result, each will be gunning for a solid finish to avoid elimination. In two previous Cup races here, Reddick had one awful finish before coming home fourth in this very event last year. Bowman has almost been the opposite. He scored a top-5 in his first Cup Series start at Bristol back in 2018. But after following it up with a top-10 that same year, he has failed to finish better than 15th in his four starts since. Two of those races saw him place outside of the top-20. Considering how well Reddick ran here a year ago along with Bowman’s lack of success and recent inconsistency, the even-money odds in this head-to-head matchup offer solid NASCAR betting value.