2021 Bass Pro Shops Night Race Odds & Picks
Race: Bass Pro Shops Night Race
Date: Saturday, September 18, 2021
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Time: 7:30pm ET
What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?
Kyle Busch, what are we going to do with you? Darlington was a bust, which you made sure everyone and their brother knew about. Even Brexton called you “drama.” You had a shot this weekend, but you dug your own grave with mistakes on pit road. Well, they weren’t both his fault. His first penalty came as a result of an uncontrolled tire that rolled from his pit box to Justin Haley’s. That was his crew’s fault and caused him to have to restart at the end of the field. He managed to climb his way back up to 14th, though and really showed what a strong car he had. In fact, I’d gander to say Busch actually had the best car of the night. Unfortunately, while most of the final segment was dominated 1-2-3-4 by the Gibbs drivers, Busch ruined the momentum by getting a speeding penalty on his final pit stop. He had to endure a pass-through penalty but managed to stay on the lead lap. That being said, there were only ten cars even on the lead lap. Busch gained one spot by the end, leaving him with a 9th place finish.
It wasn’t all bad, though. While it wasn’t the finish he was looking for; it was still a little bit of redemption after Darlington. He jumped from 14th to 10th in the standings, picking up a total of 37 points for the whole race. The rest of the Gibbs team still fared better, with a 1-2-3 finish. Truex Jr. took the checkered flag as predicted and secured his spot in the next round. This was after he managed to black flag himself on the first lap by jumping the race start in front of Denny Hamlin. Hamlin remained a force to be reckoned with and was hard to pass throughout the entirety of the race. In fact, if a driver couldn’t jump him on the restarts, it seemed nearly impossible for a while that anyone would be able to pass him. Needless to say, Hamlin put together a game plan and came away with his third win in his last five races at this track. He’s just got it figured out. Denny Hamlin was working hard, but he just couldn’t make up the ground needed there at the end. Christopher Bell also showed a lot of strength in finishing 3rd. He maintained a strong race the entire evening.
Where Are We Headed This Weekend?
This weekend, the drivers are headed to another short track, perhaps the most notable short track of all short tracks. Bristol Motor Speedway is next on the schedule. This place is rich in history and a favorite amongst both drivers and fans alike. Unlike Richmond, it’s not very flat and definitely much shorter. While Richmond is basically a 3/4 mile track, Bristol comes in at just over 1/2 mile with 26 to 30 degrees of banking through the turns and 6 to 10 degrees on the straights. It’s a concrete oval with a lot to be said about track position and tire wear. These guys are going to have to fight to stay on the lead lap if we see long green flag runs as we did at Richmond. This isn’t the Bristol of the past, either. It seems the configuration doesn’t lend itself to the same level of passing that it did previously. That means fewer wrecks and less competition, in my opinion. Those were really the greatest things about Bristol, but as we’ve seen the configuration and surface change along with the cars, it’s definitely a much different scenario than the historic races we used to see here.
Odds and Value Picks
That being said, there is one driver who is very good here. He’s also a driver that could really use a win to ensure that he makes it into the next round. Bristol is the cutoff for the drivers to make it into the round of 12, so we are bound to see some intense racing despite the changes in the track over the years. Kyle Busch is going to be the driver to beat. In his last seven races at this track, he’s managed 6 top 5 finishes. Of those six finishes, 3 of them have been wins. Coming from Richmond with a very strong car and a strong showing despite his faults, Busch will be looking for a win or bust here this weekend. When he needs to make it happen, well, Busch finds a way. With only an 8 point cushion heading into this race, it’s clear he needs to have a stellar race or a win. He can’t make mistakes this weekend, nor can his pit crew. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Bristol:
- Winner: Kyle Busch +400
- Middle of the Road: Kurt Busch +1500
- Dark Horse: Ross Chastain +3000
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So hear me out on this one. Ross Chastain was a rockstar at Richmond. He ran up front literally all day long and came away with a 7th place finish. He had a 15th place finish in the April race and bested that on Saturday night. He seems to have an affinity for the short tracks, although Bristol hasn’t been as kind to him. That being said, he’s been doing much better since having Ganassi support. I would imagine he’s going to have some confidence heading into Bristol after such a strong Richmond finish. The Busch brothers are really going to go at it, though.
These guys are both stellar at this place. They also both happen to really need a win. Kurt Busch has six wins in his career at Bristol. While Kyle isn’t quite there, he will be. I think that he’s going to show up his older brother this weekend if he can manage to stay out of trouble, especially on pit road. With the points really being the focus, let’s take a look at the standings heading into the last race of this first round of the playoffs:
- Denny Hamlin
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Larson
- Joey Logano
- Ryan Blaney
- Kevin Harvick
- Chase Elliott
- Christopher Bell
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Busch
- Aric Almirola
- Kurt Busch
- Alex Bowman
- Tyler Reddick
- William Byron
- Michael McDowell
McDowell is going to have to do a whole lot if he has any shot at moving forward to the next round. Short of winning, he’s close to mathematically impossible to making it in. He’s 38 points below the cut line, with William Byron 18 points below. Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch are tied on the bubble, so they both have a lot to take into account for this race. It’s going to be an afternoon of caution and also an afternoon of chaos. There’s going to be an interesting dichotomy of races going on across the board. Some drivers have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Others have literally everything to lose. Saturday’s race will be one for the books. Stay tuned as the drivers battle it out for their final shot at making it into the round of 12!
Hey Y’all! Don’t forget to check out our Week 2 Pro Football Picks!