Race: Food City 500
Date: Sunday April 15, 2018
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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As predicted, Kyle Busch took home the win for the O’reily’ Auto Parts 500 last Sunday. Being the Kyle Busch that he is, I’m not surprised after he came off a solid run of second and third place finishes. Kyle doesn’t bode well for almost winning. He prefers the actual thing. Unfortunately for the overwhelming favorite, Kevin Harvick suffered from issues on pit road to include a lug nut issue and a loose wheel. This set him behind after winning the first stage. Regardless, he bounced back nicely, contending for the win at the end but coming up short.
There were plenty of caution flags and also a red flag with multiple drivers wrecking and also complaining of loose tires. It was overall a pretty crazy day. The most significant crash, causing the red flag, involved Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, and Brad Keselowski. There were several other drivers including Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, and Michael McDowell that were also hit. Several drivers had their days ended because of this wreck. It’s been an uninviting season thus far for Jimmie Johnson, who usually does very well at Texas. He’s had a long run of bad luck and continues to struggle with the setup on his car. Overall, the Chevys are still underperforming compared to the rest of the teams. In fact, the FORDS! are straight rocking it. The Chevy teams are getting a little better week by week, but they still seem to be inconsistent. Hopefully, they continue to work on R&D and make the program stronger. The top 5 finishers this weekend were a solid mix of the manufacturers. Following Kyle Busch were Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, and Ryan Blaney to round out the top five.
That’s an eclectic group of drivers if you ask me. I’m glad to see McMurray up front, as he is a strong competitor. I think that he doesn’t always get a fair shake at it all. Regardless, the young guns of Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney are showing their strength and really stepping up to the plate to be consistent. We’ll have to see if they can maintain that stance as we head into one of the toughest tracks out there. Bristol is a place where anything is possible. I think of it as the superspeedway of the short tracks. Although the track has changed through the years, it still has an unpredictable element about it. If nothing else, any short track is likely to give drivers a quick fuse after a while. This 0.533 concrete oval has some substantial 26-30 degree banking through the turns and a milder 6-10 degrees on the straights. Although a touch bigger than Martinsville, Bristol provides its own set of challenges with the banking, whereas Martinsville is flat. The banking creates more speed and momentum through the track but also plays a number of tires in the meantime. Drivers will have to battle lap traffic, tires issues, and close competitors through the majority of the race here.
When it comes to picking the winner here, call me a broken record, but you’d be dumb not to put Kyle Busch at the top of your list. As the leader of this track with the most wins at a total of six, Busch is coming in hot this weekend off his win from Texas. He’s definitely going to be the driver to beat. He will have his work cut out for him. Other guys like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson will be on his tail. If you take a look at Larson, he’s got quite the record here as well. He led a ton of laps here last year and started on the front row as well. Watch for qualifying and see if this guy can replicate those runs. If so, this team is sure to bring home a solid finish this weekend. Here’s a rundown of your potential winners on Sunday:
My Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Clint Bowyer
Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones
With a top 5 finish at Texas and a ton of laps led here last year, Erik Jones is looking for his first checkered flag. This kid is good. He’s gaining more and more confidence every week and is no stranger to the top 5 and top 10 groups. Clint Bowyer is progressing nicely this year as well, learning to work well with his team at SHR. Being that Bowyer took the win at Martinsville, you can rest assured that he is going to perform well here. He had a second place finish from Bristol last year. This team is going to give a solid performance this weekend. With Kyle Busch sitting pretty at the top of the points standings, these other drivers are looking to catch up.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Joey Logano
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Kurt Busch
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Kyle Larson
11. Erik Jones
12. Aric Almirola
13. Austin Dillon
14. Alex Bowman
15. Paul Menard
16. Ryan Newman
Bristol is always a fun race to watch. The drivers seem to like the excitement that the track brings as well. As with any short track, I am sure that we will see plenty of battles happening. There will likely be some arguments carried off this track and on to the next if history repeats itself. The one thing we’ll have to watch is the weather. Sunday is looking a little wet at Bristol, but hopefully, the rain holds off or ends soon enough to get the track dry and get a full race in. Stay tuned to see what an exciting race at Bristol looks like this Sunday!- Looking for more than just standard driver to win NASCAR bets? Check out 5Dimes!