Early odds list Kyle Busch as PointsBet favorite for Bristol

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Joe Gibbs Racing is expected to continue its domination of the Round of 16, as Kyle Busch is listed as the early odds favorites at PointsBet SportsBook to win Saturday’s Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Busch’s status is enhanced by three wins, a runner-up finish and two more top-fives in his last seven Bristol starts on the paved surface. He is listed at +440 for the win. Prior to this strong set of seven races, Busch finished outside the top 25 in five of six Bristol races from 2014-17. Busch finished 17th earlier this spring when Bristol was covered with dirt.

Busch enters the race eight points above the cutline to advance to the next round. Four playoff drivers will be eliminated from title contention at Bristol.

This is the first time this season that Busch has been considered the favorite to win a race and these are the lowest odds he’s faced all year. His previous low was a +675 at Darlington Raceway two weeks ago.

One way to view American odds is to move the decimal point two positions to the left. That will let a bettor know what they will make on a $1 bet. The return on investment for +440 odds is $4.40. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a line of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Kyle Larson is ranked second with odds of +520. He has not yet scored a victory at Bristol, but Larson finished second in both events in 2018 and has top-10 finishes in five of his last six attempts on the high-banked, concrete track.

Ranked third with a line of +675 is one of the opening favorites from last week, Denny Hamlin. He finished outside the top 15 in both Bristol races of 2020, but swept the top five in 2019 with a victory in the fall race. Hamlin finished third on the dirt track this spring.

Chase Elliott is ranked fourth with odds of +850. With a career average finish of 12.1 in 10 starts, Bristol is not one of Elliott’s better tracks, but he has been a contender in the last three fall races with finishes of third in 2018, fifth in 2019 and seventh last year.

Joey Logano rounds out the top five with a line of +1000. He is coming off back-to-back, top-10 finishes that includes a fifth last week at Richmond. Logano has two Bristol wins and they both came in the Night Race. His most recent win was in 2015. In the seven Bristol races immediately following, he scored six top-10s. His last three efforts on the paved track have all been outside the top 10, but he won the Bristol dirt race with odds of +3300.

Last week’s winner at Richmond, Martin Truex Jr. has been given long odds of +1600, which ranks him ninth at PointsBet. Truex has become one of NASCAR’s better short track racers, but Bristol has not been kind with only one top 10 (an eighth in 2017) in his last 17 efforts on the paved oval. Truex’s last top @BMfive at Bristol came in spring 2012 when he finished third.

The last two winners on this paved half-mile track also face long odds.

After winning in spring 2020, Brad Keselowski is ranked sixth with a line of +1300.

Kevin Harvick is also listed at +1300. He won last year’s edition of this race.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Dan Beaver handicaps NASCAR races for NBC Sports Edge.

Alex Bowman confident as he returns to racing from back injury


CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman watched the rain-filled skies over Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday with more than a touch of disappointment.

As weather threatened to cancel Saturday night’s scheduled NASCAR Cup Series practice at the speedway, Bowman saw his chances to testing his car — and his body — dissolving in the raindrops. NASCAR ultimately cancelled practice and qualifying because of rain.

MORE: Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup practice, qualifying

Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident last month and has missed three Cup races while he recovers. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the season’s longest race, is scheduled to mark his return to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet.

“It would have been really nice to kickstart that with practice today,” Bowman said. “I haven’t raced or competitively driven a race car in a month. I’m trying to understand where my rusty areas are going to be and where I’m still good.”

Bowman ran 200 laps in a test season at North Wilkesboro Speedway this week, but, of course, that doesn’t compare with the faster speeds and tougher G-forces he’ll experience over 400 laps Sunday at CMS.

Bowman admitted that he is still experiencing pain from the back injury — his car flipped several times — and that he expects some pain during the race. But he said he is confident he’ll be OK and that the longer race distance won’t be an issue.

“I broke my back a month ago, and there’s definitely things that come along with that for a long time,” he said. “I have some discomfort here and there and there are things I do that don’t feel good. That’s just part of it. It’s stuff I’ll have to deal with. But, for the most part, I’m back to normal.

“I’m easing back into being in the gym. I’m trying to be smart with things. If I twist the wrong way, sometimes it hurts. In the race car at the end of a six-hour race, I’m probably not going to be the best.”

The sprint car crash interrupted what had been a fine seasonal start for Bowman. Although winless, he had three top fives and six top 10s in the first 10 races.

“I’m excited to be back,” Bowman said. “Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off and be strong right out of the gate.”

He said he hopes to return to short-track racing but not in the near future.

“Someday I want to get back in a sprint car or midget,” he said. “I felt like we were just getting rolling in a sprint car. That night we were pretty fast. Definitely a bummer there. That’s something I really want to conquer and be competitive at in the World of Outlaws or High Limits races. Somebody I’ll get back to that. It’s probably smart if I give my day job a little alone time for a bit.”




Charlotte NASCAR Cup Series starting lineup: Rain cancels qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — William Byron and Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the front row after wet weather cancelled Saturday night qualifying.

Rain pelted the CMS area much of the day Saturday, and NASCAR announced at 3:45 p.m. that Cup practice and qualifying, scheduled for Saturday night, had been cancelled.

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

The starting field was set by the NASCAR rulebook.

Following Byron and Harvick in the starting top 10 will be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The elimination of the practice session was particularly problematic for Alex Bowman, scheduled to return to racing Sunday after missing three weeks with a back injury, and Jimmie Johnson, who will be starting only his third race this year. Johnson will start 37th — last in the field.

Charlotte Cup starting lineup

Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup Series practice, qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR Cup Series drivers will start the longest race of the season with no practice or qualifying.

Wet weather and predictions of more to come led NASCAR to cancel Saturday night’s Cup Series practice and qualifying in mid-afternoon. The field for Sunday’s 600-mile race was set by the NASCAR rulebook, placing William Byron and Kevin Harvick on the front row for the  scheduled 6 p.m. start.

MORE: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

Weather also could be an issue Sunday as more rain is predicted for the speedway area.

Drivers were scheduled to practice at 7 p.m. Saturday. That session was to be followed by qualifying at 7:45 p.m. The cancellations were announced at 3:45 p.m.

The time-trial cancellation marked the first time in 64 years that qualifying has been canceled for the 600.

Charlotte Xfinity race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — Persistent rain forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Monday.

The race is scheduled to start at noon ET. It will be televised by FS1 and broadcast by the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Driver introductions and other pre-race activities were held at the track Saturday, but rain that had dampened the track in the morning hours returned. After several attempts at drying the track, the race was postponed after heavier rain returned in mid-afternoon.

Justin Allgaier will start the race from the pole position.