Nothing like sitting down after a big Easter Sunday dinner, watching the automobile race on the TV, and making a little money!
The NASCAR Cup Series head to the Bristol Dirt for a primetime showdown Sunday night. This will be the second straight night race for the series — lets hope this one goes a little better than Martinsville — and third straight short track event.
And yes, we have the early odds! Although, frankly, I’m not sure how books are supposed to handicap this one. It’s just the second ever trip to the Bristol Dirt, the first at night, and the first in this new, Next Gen car.
Using the BetMGM sportsbook, Kyle Larson opens the week as the heavy favorite at +450 (9/2), followed in a distant second by Christopher Bell (+800), last year’s winner, Joey Logano, at +900, and point-leader Chase Elliott (+1200).
Denny Hamlin and William Byron also check in at 12/1, followed by Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick, who all sit at 14/1.
All right. Enough small talk. Let’s find some sleepers, good value picks, and best bets for Sunday’s race.
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Why he could win: This number seems a bit high to me, especially given Dillon’s recent speed (he finished third at Martinsville) and dirt experience.
Dillon has a handful of dirt wins to his name in a late model, won at Eldora in the Truck Series back in 2013, and he’s also running the truck race this weekend, too, giving him some more seat time before Sunday’s main event.
Dillon’s finished no worse than 10th in the past three races, and already has more top-5s (two) than he did all of last season. A simple $10 bet on Dillon at this value could pay off big time come Sunday night.
Why he could win: Seems awful low for a guy who led 58 laps and finished fourth in this race last year, doesn’t it?
Combine that with the fact that Suarez is in much, muuuucccchhhhh, better equipment this season, and this seems like a pretty decent chance to take.
Yes, Suarez has struggled pretty bad over the last three races (best finish of 16th), but this is a different animal, and he proved last year he knew how to handle the dirt.
Why he could win: He won earlier this year at Phoenix, but it’s Briscoe’s dirt background that’s intriguing this week.
He’s a third generation racer who grew up on dirt tracks around Indiana, and has experience in midgets and sprint cars.
And then there’s this quote from Briscoe when asked about dirt guys having success in the Next Gen car.
“The dirt guys have always had to figure it out and adapt very quickly,” he said after his Phoenix win. “The guys that grew up late model racing or pavement racing, they don’t really have that. They go out and test, or have hours of practice, where the dirt guys have to adapt quickly … I think that’s why you’ve seen dirt guys run better, earlier, in this Next Gen car.”
Why he could win: Speaking of those dirt guys who’ve had early success …
Reddick was just 15 when he won his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event, becoming the youngest driver to do so, and has plenty of experience on the dirt. He’s also been really, really good this season despite a few rocky weeks in a row.
Reddick finished seventh in this race last year, is way overdue for a Cup win, and knows how to win on the dirt. Not a bad gamble at +1400.
Why he could win: Yes, it’s low-hanging fruit. But still, getting a dirt guru like Bell at +800 isn’t terrible value. Frankly, if I had to choose between taking Larson or Bell this week, I’d roll the dice and go with Bell.
There’s just more value at his number and the gap between the two, at least when it comes to dirt, is very, very small.
Bell has won multiple Chili Bowls, has been good, and fast, this season, and should be in the mix all night Sunday.