It’s not a guarantee that Kyle Busch is going to advance to the second round of the Cup Series playoffs.
Busch’s start to the postseason hasn’t been great. He crashed out at Darlington over Labor Day weekend and then got a late speeding penalty at Richmond after he was running in the top five for most of the second half of the race. That penalty relegated Busch to a ninth-place finish and he was the last driver on the lead lap.
Busch had led 39 laps before that penalty. He could have easily finished in the top three or even got a win — his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates finished 1-2-3. Those extra six points would have been huge had he finished third. Busch would be a spot higher in the points standings.
Instead, he’s 10th and just eight points ahead of the cutoff line heading into the final race of the first round at Bristol on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Twelve of the 16 playoff drivers move on to the second round.
At least Busch is heading to his best track. Busch has won eight times at Bristol in 31 starts and has finished in the top five in 14 of those races. And Busch has been especially good at Bristol lately.
Busch has finished in the top four in six of the last seven races at Bristol since crashing out in three consecutive races in 2016 and 2017. Busch has three wins in that span and was second in this race a season ago to Kevin Harvick. That’s why he’s the favorite at BetMGM with odds of +450 to win the race.
Another top-four finish should be more than enough for Busch to move on to the second round. And it won’t be a shock at all if he gets his ninth win at the track.
Here's what you need to know to bet on the race. All odds are from BetMGM.
Kyle Busch (+450)
Kyle Larson (+500)
Denny Hamlin (+600
Chase Elliott (+800)
Joey Logano (+1000)
Larson has never raced at (a non-dirt) Bristol in a Hendrick Motorsports car. He has seven top-10 finishes in 12 starts for Chip Ganassi Racing. Hamlin has two wins at Bristol and 14 top-10 finishes in 30 starts. Logano also has two wins and six top fives. Ellliott has three top-five finishes and five top 10s in 10 Bristol starts. Just six active drivers have won at Bristol.
Good mid-tier value
Brad Keselowski (+1400)
Kurt Busch (+1600)
Both drivers are really good value here. Keselowski has three wins at Bristol and won the spring race at the track in 2020. While his finishes are inconsistent — he’s finished in the top 10 just four other times in 22 total starts — he’s led at least 40 laps in five of the last six Bristol races.
Busch has six wins and 21 top-10 finishes in 40 Bristol starts. Only his brother has more wins. Busch has finished in the top 15 in each of the four races since he won the 2018 Bristol night race. While Busch’s period of Bristol domination came in the early 2000s, he’s still one of the drivers to beat at the track.
Don't bet this driver
Martin Truex Jr. (+1400)
It’s shocking how poorly Truex runs at Bristol. He has just three top-10 finishes in 30 starts and hasn’t finished in the top 10 since he was at Furniture Row Racing. However, Truex has had a lot of success at short tracks recently. We wouldn’t be surprised if he has a great finish on the heels of his Richmond win but we’d be stunned if he won the race.
Looking for a long shot?
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+15000)
Stenhouse has four top fives in 16 Bristol starts and his odds are super long here because of his recent lack of success. Stenhouse hasn’t finished in the top 20 in any of the last five Bristol races. He should progress back to the mean a bit on Saturday night. He’s not going to win, but a top-10 finish isn’t out of the equation.