Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

Bristol Track Facts


Bristol Motor Speedway Data

Season Race #: 4 of 36 (03-17-13)
Track Size: 0.533-miles
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24-28 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24-28 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 4-8 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 4-8 degrees
Frontstretch Length:  650 feet
Backstretch Length:  650 feet
Race Length: 500 laps / 266.5 miles

Top 12 Driver Ratings at Bristol

Kyle Busch 103.0
Jeff Gordon 100.6
Matt Kenseth 99.9
Brad Keselowski 99.0
Greg Biffle 95.8
Jimmie Johnson 93.8
Kurt Busch 92.8
Denny Hamlin 90.8
Kevin Harvick 90.3
Dale Earnhardt Jr 87.9
Kasey Kahne 86.8
Ryan Newman 86.7

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (17 total) among active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway

Qualifying/Race Data

2012 pole winner: None due to weather
2012 race winner: Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 84.402 mph, (3:09:27), 08-25-12
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 129.535 mph, 14.813 secs. 03-15-13
Track race record: Charlie Glotzbach, Chevrolet, 101.074 mph, (2:38:12), 07-11-71

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Re: Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

Driver Tale of the Tape at Bristol


Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M AAD Car Care Ford)


· Six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 12.1
· Average Running Position of 12.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 95.8, fifth-best
· 315 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.807 mph, fourth-fastest
· 6,230 Laps in the Top 15 (73.2%), third-most
· 447 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fifth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet)

· Five wins, seven top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.4
· Average Running Position of 13.2, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 92.8, seventh-best
· 301 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 838 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Laps in the Top 15 (65.5%), sixth-most
· 478 Quality Passes, third-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Doublemint Toyota)

· Five wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 9.8
· Average Running Position of 12.7, sixth-best
· Series-best Driver Rating of 103.0
· Series-high 581 Fastest Laps Run
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.862 mph, third-fastest
· 5,760 Laps in the Top 15 (67.7%), fifth-most
· 440 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)

· One win, seven top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.6
· Average Running Position of 14.0, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 87.9, 10th-best
· Series-high 954 Green Flag Passes
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.668 mph, ninth-fastest
· 5,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), 10th-most
· 440 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

· Two wins, four top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 14.6
· Average Running Position of 15.4, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 86.5, 13th-best
· 292 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 5,208 Laps in the Top 15 (61.2%), eighth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Standox Chevrolet)

· Five wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 12.4
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.6
· Driver Rating of 100.6, second-best
· 372 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.863 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 6,974 Laps in the Top 15 (81.9%)
· 475 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)

· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 15.2, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.8, eighth-best
· 371 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 759 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.672 mph, eighth-fastest
· 4,327 Laps in the Top 15 (57.6%), 12th-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet)

· One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.6
· Average Running Position of 13.6, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.3, ninth-best
· 817 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.756 mph, sixth-fastest
· 5,163 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), ninth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Dover White Chevrolet)

· One win, seven top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.3
· Average Running Position of 12.5, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.8, sixth-best
· 468 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.633 mph, 12th-fastest
· 6,135 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), fourth-most
· 374 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet)

· One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 18.2
· Driver Rating of 86.8, 11th-best
· 365 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 750 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· 4,317 Laps in the Top 15 (50.7%), 13th-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)

· Two wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 12.9
· Average Running Position of 10.8, second-best
· Driver Rating of 99.9, third-best
· 412 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 114.866 mph
· 6,801 Laps in the Top 15 (79.9%), second-most
· 491 Quality Passes, second-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)

· Two wins, three top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 12.1
· Average Running Position of 12.6, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 99.0, fourth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.761 mph, fifth-fastest

Ryan Newman (No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet)

· One top five, 13 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 16.9
· Average Running Position of 15.4, 13th-best
· Driver Rating of 86.7, 12th-best
· 716 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 114.582 mph, 13th-fastest
· 5,460 Laps in the Top 15 (64.1%), seventh-most
· 401 Quality Passes, ninth-most

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Bristol Storylines: 2013 Irwin Tools Night Race
Nascar.com

It’s lonely at the top but five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, the only competitor so far to clinch a spot in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™, is likely to get some company after Saturday’s IRWIN Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET ABC, Performance Racing Network Radio, SiriusXM Radio) at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Any driver who exits the 500-lap race with a lead of 97 points over 11th place will punch a ticket to NASCAR’s 2013 postseason.

The most likely candidates – Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick – enter the season’s 24th race 90 or more points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne. Kahne won at Bristol in March and a season sweep – the first since Kyle Busch in 2009 – would give the Washington driver a third season victory and a virtual lock on the Chase.

Entering Friday’s Food City 250 (7:30 p.m. ET ESPN, Performance Racing Network Radio, SiriusXM Radio), the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship is still up for grabs. New leader Sam Hornish Jr. holds a 13-point lead over Elliott Sadler followed by Regan Smith, Austin Dillon and Brian Vickers.

Hornish finished fourth – second-highest of the current championship contenders – when the series visited Bristol Motor Speedway in March.

A year ago, Timothy Peters led all 204 laps of Bristol Motor Speedway’s UNOH 200 (8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM Radio) – the first to do so in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event since 1997. Peters returns to face a field that includes Ben Kennedy, great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who makes his NASCAR national series debut.

Johnson’s Rivals Can Clinch Chase Berths This Week

Jimmie Johnson remains the only driver to have claimed a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick can clinch their spots in the postseason on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Wild Card Race Gets Wilder Yet With Logano’s Victory

Five drivers ranked 11th through 20th have Wild Card-qualifying victories following Joey Logano’s win in Michigan. Bristol spring winner Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. hold the provisional Wild Cards with three races remaining in the Race to the Chase.

Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing Hold Owner Wild Cards

Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet and the No. 56 Toyota of Michael Waltrip Racing hold the provisional owner Chase Wild Cards. The No. 56 prevails on a tie-breaker – best finish – with Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 having scored the same number of points (653).

Bristol Sweep Would Give Kahne Post-Season Insurance

With two victories, a Bristol "sweep" would virtually guarantee Kasey Kahne a berth in the Chase. The last driver to win both stops at Bristol Motor Speedway was Kyle Busch in 2009.

Kurt Busch, Gordon Take Chase ‘Bubble’ Roles To Bristol

Kurt Busch’s third-place finish in Michigan moved the 2004 champion into the top 10 (ninth). Without a win he remains on the "bubble" – as does fellow five-time Bristol winner Jeff Gordon, 26 points out of the top 10 in 14th place.

Busch Brothers Pile Up Wins In ‘Thunder Valley’

Kurt and Kyle Busch each has won five times at Bristol Motor Speedway. A Busch has won at least one race in eight different seasons beginning in 2002. Each has a season sweep: Kurt in 2003, Kyle in 2009.

Keselowski’s Chase May Turn On Continued Bristol Success

Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski won the IRWIN Tools Night Race in 2011 and Bristol’s spring event a year ago. Keselowski, without a victory in 2013, finished third at the 0.533-mile track in March. He’s eighth in the standings, eight points ahead of 11th.

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Irvin Tools Night Race Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

While the final 10-race Chase for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Championship is supposed to be the most thrilling portion on the season, I think most fans agree that the Race to the Chase were seeing right now is far more intense, simply because there are so many interchangeable variables and storylines each week involving several drivers rather than just the final two or three in the final weeks of the season.

There are only three weeks remaining until the Chase starts and only 12 drivers will make it Jimmie Johnson is only driver to clinch, but right now we have 14 legitimate drivers all vying for the final 11 spots, and each week something happens to drastically change the stage. Drivers with no wins who are inside the top-10 with no wins, like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch are feeling the pressure of trying to continually run well, while drivers outside the top-10 like Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman have an interesting dilemma in front of them.

Truex Jr., sits in 12th position and would get the wild card based on his one win if the season ended today, but he’s got Logano breathing down his neck only seven points behind and a win in his back pocket that he captured last week at Michigan. Newman is only 17 points behind and also has a win. If either of those drivers can win one in the final three races, they’ll likely secure one of the wild card spots with two wins on the season. But in going for the win, there is a risk. Go all out and sometimes things can turn for the worse, such as wrecking and sliding down in points.

As for Gordon, he slid another position in the standings to 14th and if he doesn’t win at least one race, he’ll have to make up at least 27 points over the next three to pass Greg Biffle who sits in 10th with one win. Gordon’s in a situation where he has to be as aggressive as ever and go all out and let things fall where they may. He raced himself into the Chase last season with a succession of brilliant finishes in the final three races before the Chase with a third-place and two runner-up finishes. After finishing second at Pocono a few weeks ago, he’s come up with poor finishes of 36th at Watkins Glen and 17th at Michigan and he‘ll need something similar to last season, and maybe even better, to have a chance.

This Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway’s half-mile fast track should turn up the heat on all the drivers competing for their playoff lives. In addition to already feeling the heat from the standings, they’ll also feel the wrath from irritated drivers who have to spend 500 laps tightly bunched up with one another. With so many drivers competing for every position they can, there are bound to be plenty of hurt feelings when they are wronged by a fellow driver, and that’s when the real drama begins, because the anticipation of seeing the retaliation is what makes Bristol so fun for the fans.
           
Keselowski can take a major step forward in getting his name off the hunted list in the standings by getting his first win of the season. The 2012 Sprint Cup Champion has been at his best at Bristol, winning races in 2011 and 2012, as well as finishing third in the spring race this season. He isn’t too happy about going winless thus far, and has the type of attitude that won’t allow for him to simply race for points. Especially not at Bristol, where he has kind of a territorial thing going right now thinking he’s the best.

We’ve seen drivers go on major runs over a few consecutive years at Bristol and gobble up wins, and then they just kind of stop all of a sudden. Keselowski, although not winning the last two races there, looks to be the current King of Bristol right now. He is one of 12 drivers, and the last, in NASCAR history to win back-to-back races at Bristol.

He took over that crown from Kyle Busch, who won five times at Bristol over a nine race stretch from 2007-11, but hasn’t won there in his last four starts. He did, however, finish one spot ahead of Keselowski in the spring with a runner-up finish, right behind Kasey Kahne. He also has won back-to-back at Bristol, except he's done it twice, joining greats like Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers to do so.

Kurt Busch had his Bristol crown taken away from his brother. From 2002-06, the older Busch won five times at Bristol. He is a very interesting look this week, not only because of finishing fourth in the spring, but because of the roll his team is currently on. He’s charged up the standings into ninth-place, and while he doesn’t have a win this season, he’s coming very close on all types of tracks. Since June 23 at Sonoma, Busch has six top-10 finishes in eight starts that include five finishes of sixth or better. He has finished third in two of last three starts coming into this week.

Earnhardt Jr. has only one win at Bristol over his career (2004), but over the past 20 races there, no one has been more consistent, as he‘s averaged a 9.3 finish position. He finished sixth in the spring and is hanging on loosely to the No. 7 position in points.

Matt Kenseth is a two-time winner and had a nice run going in the spring leading 88 laps before getting involved in an accident with Jeff Gordon with 98 laps to go. He should be ready to go for a good run and compete for his fifth win of the season, which would set him up nice with more bonus Chase points than Johnson who has four wins as well.         

Top-5 Finish Prediction

1) #2 Brad Keselowski (8/1)
2) #18 Kyle Busch (6/1)
3) #78 Kurt Busch (12/1)
4) #5 Kasey Kahne (8/1)
5) #20 Matt Kenseth (10/1)

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Re: Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Bristol
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

To assist in making your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Jeff Wackerlin brings you his weekly detailed analysis to help steer you toward Saturday's IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Who's HOT at Bristol

• Kyle Busch has five wins and has led 1,431 laps in his last 15 starts.
• Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 in seven of the last 10 races, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
• Brad Keselowski has captured two wins and has combined to lead 383 laps in the last four races.
• Defending race winner Denny Hamlin has led the most laps (187) in the two races since the top groove of the progressive banking was ground down.
• Kasey Kahne, who won in the spring, has posted a 5.0 average finish in the last two races.
• Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch each are five-time winners (all on the old track surface/configuration).
• Along with Johnson, Paul Menard is the only other driver to score four top 10s in the last five races.
• Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers have posted respective average finishes of 5.3 and 5.7 in their last three starts.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Bristol

• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9.0), Martin Truex Jr. (11.5) and Marcos Ambrose (12.0) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the two races since the top groove of the progressive banking was ground down.
• Mark Martin will make his first start in the No. 14 Chevrolet, replacing the injured Tony Stewart.
• Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray each finished in the top 10 in the spring at Bristol, the first race at the track with the Gen-6 racecar.
• Matt Kesneth led 85 laps in his first Bristol start with Joe Gibbs Racing in the spring.
• Joey Logano led 139 laps in this event last year.

Note: Sprint Cup Series teams will be running the same combination of left- and right-side tires that they ran in the last two races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Writer Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Clint Bowyer
Pete Pistone: Brad Keselowski
Dustin Long: Kyle Busch
John Singler: Jimmie Johnson

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

(All stats/notes are in regards to Bristol unless noted)

Jimmie Johnson: Winner of this event in 2010; Snapped streak of four consecutive top 10s in the spring with a 22nd-place finish; The last two spring races are the only time he did not lead at least 50 laps in the last nine races; 12.0 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 797) that he last finished first with at Texas Motor Speedway last fall.

Clint Bowyer: Posted a 5.3 average finish in three starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; 16.2 average finish in 15 overall starts; Tied for the third-best average finish (6.0) in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 773) that he finished eighth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

Carl Edwards: Winner of this event in 2007 and 2008; 20.0 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Last of seven top 10s (ninth) came in this event in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 802) that he finished 14th with at Dover International Speedway.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2005 spring race; Finished 15th last summer in the first race with the top groove ground down; Three top 10s on the progressive banking; 14.5 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 383) that he last finished eighth with at Dover International Speedway.

Kyle Busch: Four of his five wins came on the progressive banking; Leads all drivers in average finish (4.0) in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Last time he led more than 150 laps (153) was in the 2011 spring race; 1,367 laps led on the progressive banking.

Matt Kenseth: Finished 35th in first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing after being involved in a crash; Two wins and a 12.1 average finish in 26 previous starts with Roush Fenway Racing; Two wins came on old track surface; 30.0 average finish and fourth in laps led (110) in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Coming off 13th top 10 in 27 starts; Two of his seven top-five finishes came on the progressive banking (last in the 2008 spring race); 9.0 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 745) that he last finished 10th with at Dover International Speedway in June.

Brad Keselowski: Winner of the 2011 summer race and 2012 spring race; Has combined to lead 294 laps in the last two spring races; Finished 30th last summer in the first race with the top groove of the progressive banking ground down; Finished third and led 62 laps in the spring; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 849) that he finished fifth with at Dover International Speedway.

Kurt Busch: Finished fourth in the spring in first track start with Furniture Row Racing; Last of four wins in 25 starts came in the 2006 spring race with Penske Racing; 16.0 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns.

Greg Biffle: Won the pole and finished 13th in the 2012 spring race; Six top-10 finishes on the progressive banking; 15.0 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 822) that he finished ninth with at Martinsville Speedway.

Kasey Kahne: Coming off first win in 19 starts; 15.7 average finish in three starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Second in average finish (5.0) and laps led (151) in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Led 305 laps and finished second with Gillett Evernham Motorsports on the first races on the progressive banking in 2007; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 769) that he raced at Bristol in March.

Martin Truex Jr.: 10.6 average finish in seven starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; 11.5 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Led 44 laps and finished 11th in this event last year.

Joey Logano: Finished 17th in the spring in first track start with Penske Racing; 12.5 average finish and third in laps led (140) in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 842) that he finished seventh with at Dover International Speedway.

Jeff Gordon: 18.5 average finish and fifth in laps led (66) in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Finished 34th in the spring after being involved in an accident; Led 206 laps and finished third in the 2011 summer race; Five-time winner on the old track surface, pre-2007.

Ryan Newman: Coming off sixth top 10 in nine starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; 21.5 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 727) that he last finished 13th with in the All-Star Race.

Jamie McMurray: Coming off ninth top 10 in 21 starts; 13.5 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Sixth-best average finish (13.1) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races.

Paul Menard: Coming off fourth top 10 in five starts with Richard Childress Racing; 9.5 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 414) that he last finished 30th with at Kentucky Speedway.

Mark Martin: Martin is making first start as the substitute driver for the injured Tony Stewart; Saturday will be Martin's first track start since 2011; Posted two poles and an average finish of 19.3 in last six starts driving for Hendrick Motorsports; Last of two wins with Roush Racing came in this event in 1998; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 722) that Stewart won with at Dover International Speedway in June.

Aric Almirola: 30.3 average finish in three starts with Richard Petty Motorsports; Only top 10 came in the 2008 spring race with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 850) that he last finished 20th with at Martinsville Speedway.

Jeff Burton: Winner of the 2008 spring race; Four top 10s on the progressive banking; 32.5 average finish in the two races since the upper groove was ground down in the turns; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 392) that he last finished 11th with at Dover International Speedway.

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NASCAR heads to Bristol for Saturday night race
By: Brian Graham
StatFox.com

The NASCAR circuit moves to the World’s Fastest Half-Mile at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night for the Irwin Tools Night Race. This concrete oval track is 0.533 miles long with four turns all between 24° and 30° of banking since its 2007 resurfacing. The two straights have inclines of 6° and 10°. The Busch brothers have dominated at this track, combining to win 10 of the past 23 races here. Both Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch have five wins apiece in this span. However, the past four Bristol winners have been Brad Keselowski (twice), Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne in the spring.

Drivers to Watch

Clint Bowyer (10/1) -
Bowyer has been a short-track demon this season, winning at Martinsville and then finishing as the runner-up to Kevin Harvick at Richmond. He has enjoyed plenty of success at Bristol with finishes of 4th, 7th and 5th in his past three starts at this track, giving him top-7 showings in seven of his past dozen starts on the World's Fastest Half-Mile. With double-digit odds, Bowyer should get your largest wager on Saturday night.

Brad Keselowski (8/1) - He has the most driver points in the past four Bristol races, winning two of those and placing 3rd in March after leading for 62 laps. Keselowski still hasn't won a race this season, but has led for at least 14 laps in three of his past five starts, producing finishes of 4th, 6th and 12th in those three races. This does not include his runner-up two weeks ago at Watkins Glen, which marked his seventh top-5 finish, keeping him in contention to defend his points title. Keselowski represents the best value play of any of the drivers with single-digit odds.

Ryan Newman (30/1) - He's making some noise in the Chase for the Cup, finishing no worse than 18th in any of the past 14 races that he's actually been able to complete. Since his crash at Loudon, Newman has an average finish of 8.0, including his victory at the Brickyard. He also had a fine showing at Bristol in March, placing 7th to give him top-10's in 13-of-23 starts (57%) at this track. He's a great darkhorse candidate for Saturday and worthy of a small wager.

Jeff Gordon (15/1) - His March crash at this track notwithstanding, Gordon has usually raced near the front of the pack at Bristol during his long career, posting a hefty 16 top-5's which includes five victories. His short-track career has been remarkable as evidenced by an 11.3 average finish, 15 wins and 62 top-5's in 131 starts (47%). Gordon also knows that time is running out to get back into The Chase for the Cup, as he sits in 14th place entering the weekend with five top-3 finishes this season, but zero wins. At 15-to-1 odds, don't forget to place a one-unit wager on Gordon Saturday.

Paul Menard (75/1) - The best longshot of the weekend goes to Paul Menard, who has tallied top-10's in four of his past five Bristol starts, which includes a 9th-place showing earlier this season. He also placed 13th at the most recent short-track event at Richmond, finishing just one spot behind Jimmie Johnson. Menard is also coming off his best race of the 2013 season, coming in fourth at Michigan last week.

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Irwin Tools Night Race Post-Practice Betting Notes
By: Micah Roberts   
Sportingnews.com

Because of the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway being run on Saturday, every Sprint Cup team had to cram all their practice and qualifying sessions into one day on Friday. Of the two practices run, the two-hour early session is the most telling and relevant to race day just because almost everyone used the allotted time to run exclusively in race trim; the 45-minute afternoon session was used primarily for mock qualifying runs.

In the early session, David Ragan was fastest with a lap at 125.322 mph, which raises suspicion that he likely was in a mock qualifying run. And while Ragan isn't a candidate to win this week, if you think there is something to his speeds, he can be fetched at 100-to-1 odds as part of the Field bet. However, we don't recommend spending your hard-earned money that way, especially not at Bristol where few surprises happen and the favorites are top heavy.

The drivers we thought would do well at the beginning of the week are still the top candidates to win, but Kyle Busch might have separated himself further from everyone else based on Friday's practices. Already the top candidate to win Saturday night based on his past history with five wins and a 9.8 average finish, Busch had the fourth-fastest lap (124.841) in the early session and was fastest (128.253) during happy hour. Busch also showed a fast average during his 82 laps run in the first session and had the third fastest 10-consecutive lap average among the 26 drivers that ran as many in a row.

Although we still consider Brad Keselowski the second-best candidate to win this week, we couldn't help but be impressed with Jeff Gordon's run during practices and be reminded about how well he ran in the March race, where he led 66 laps. He's a five-time winner at Bristol, but he's come up empty in his past 21 starts there. With 98 laps to go in March, Gordon was leading, but a cut tire sent him into the wall -- as well as Matt Kenseth, who was in second -- and he ended up with a 34th-place finish.

During Friday's practices, Gordon picked up right where left off at Bristol -- before his misfortune -- by having the third-fastest lap (124.841) in the first session and also compiling the second-best 10-consecutive average lap time. His performance alone during the two-hour session should move him closer to Busch in the post-practice ratings, but he gets docked for his current form.

However, in an almost identical twist of fate, Gordon finds himself in nearly the same situation he was in last season when he was coming off a 28th-place finish at Michigan and his chances of making the Chase were bleak. The next week at Bristol, he ran third, and then he had two consecutive second-place finishes at Atlanta and Richmond to make the Chase.

It could even be argued that Gordon has the best car on the track, but Busch's moxie and love for Bristol racing gives him the edge, especially considering Gordon's drought on the world's fastest half-mile track.

Gordon and Busch will have to make up a lot of positions on the track due to their qualifying efforts. Gordon was 32nd quickest due to a minor slip, and Busch slipped into the wall. The damage on Busch's car looked significant enough to bring the back-up off the hauler, but knowing they have the best car on the track, they are doing everything possible to fix the right side panel – a process that will continue tomorrow morning. After a few cautions, both will be in the top 10.

Keselowski finished with the fifth-fastest lap (124.776) during the first practice session and should be battling with Busch and Gordon up front during the late stages of the race. He hasn't won on the season yet, but he's a two-time winner at Bristol and has the perfect attitude it takes to pile up wins there like some of the greats of the past have done.

Another driver that has piled up wins at Bristol is the older Busch, Kurt, who has five to his credit -- just like his younger brother – but none since 2006. He was sensational in Friday's practices and also comes in on major high with three straight top-10 finishes, including a third at both Pocono and Michigan. He finished fourth in the March race and should be up there competing for at least another top-five this week, if not the win.

The best long shot of the bunch looks to be Martin Truex Jr. at 20-to-1. He had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average in the first session. That shows he's got speed on longer runs, and there are plenty of long runs at Bristol, as in 500 laps long. He's never won at Bristol, but he did finish second in 2011 and third the following year. Truex has always been good at his home track of Dover, and although Dover is a one-mile track, the tracks do kind of run similar since the Bristol cosmetic changes because of the concrete, high banking and multi-grooves. On a side note, several crew chiefs have brought their Dover chassis this week.

We also have to give a high-five to Denny Hamlin (15/1) for practicing well and grabbing the pole. He's been in a major slump over his last nine races, but this is a track he likes a lot, and it's helpful that his Toyota seems to finally like a track, as well. He won this race last season and led twice for 117 laps in the spring race.

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