After spending last week in separate places, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is back with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It turns out that’s a bad thing for the Xfinity Series drivers because Joey Logano and Kyle Busch will be running in this week’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. We’ll be looking to see if anybody outside of those two actually has a chance this week. Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
Rubs and Tugs
There will be a lot of rubbing this week in Thunder Valley. This is a .533-mile track that features some of the tightest and most competitive racing on the schedule. These high-banked turns and short straightaways really bunch the cars up and make for a lot of fender-to-fender racing. That is probably not going to help the less experienced Xfinity Series drivers. It shouldn’t bother the Cup Series guys all that much, so they already have a leg up. Three of the last four versions of the Food City 300 have needed NASCAR overtime. This should be one of the best Xfinity Series races of the season, even with the obvious choices of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano in the field.
Playoff Chase
While Busch, Logano, and Erik Jones are the favorites, the points-eligible drivers have more to worry about than wins. There are four chances left to acquire extra playoff points for those that have already clinched a spot and there are outside chances of getting into the top 12 for those that are not. Unfortunately, the drama we have around the cut line in the Cup Series is not present in the Xfinity Series. Somebody will have to win a race to overcome Brandon Jones, who leads Gray Gaulding by 108 points. Tyler Reddick leads Christopher Bell by 28 points for the regular season title, but Bell has the most bonus points when the playoffs roll around. Cole Custer is third in points, but second in bonus points.
Leaping for Left Turns
We’re back to an oval course, at least for this week. The Xfinity Series will be at Road America next week, while the Cup Series takes a break. Last week’s race was at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the race before that was at Watkins Glen. Austin Cindric won’t be happy to see an oval course after winning back-to-back road course events. A lot of other drivers will be thrilled to see left turns again. After next week at Road America, the only other road course will be the Charlotte Roval during the playoffs. That means that we’ll see the usual suspects at the top of the board, especially in the playoffs, when Cup Series guys aren’t eligible to race.
The Odds Board
With Kyle Busch in the field, he is the clear and unquestioned favorite. As discussed in our preview for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, Busch has had tons of success at Bristol throughout his career. Anything can happen, especially with the wrecks and the other maladies at Bristol, but it would be a surprise to see anybody other than the top three on the board come away with the win. Busch is +130. This is only Busch’s sixth Xfinity Series start. He’s got three wins, a second, and a 31st with a Stage 1 win. Busch has won this race five times this decade. Logano is +440. This is his second Xfinity start after a second-place finish at Chicagoland. Logano won this race back in 2012 and has two wins in the summer Cup Series race. He’s only been ninth and fifth in this particular race the last two years, but given the conditions and his experience level, he’s a very deserving second favorite. Bell is the top points-eligible guy on the board at +550. Bell won the first race at Bristol this year and has seven straight top-five finishes when being able to finish the race. He was black-flagged at Chicagoland and finished 38th. As far as Xfinity guys, he’s definitely the best of the bunch here. Erik Jones has not run an Xfinity Series race this season, but finds himself fourth on the board at just under 9/1. Reddick and Custer are 11/1 for this race. Justin Allgaier is just above +1800. The next closest drivers are +4400.
It is really hard to envision many scenarios in which Kyle Busch doesn’t win this race. But, he’s still probably not worth a bet because of that super low price. Anything can happen with young drivers getting in the way or whatever else. Too many things can go wrong to take a price this low at a track like this. If this was some 1.5-mile loop, by all means, consider it. I’ll be looking at Custer here at +1100. He’s been really, really strong on oval tracks this season and managed to win the pole position here in the spring. With the tight, short track, starting at the front helps and he’s a strong racer. I’ll also take a shot on Bell at 5.5/1. You just don’t get that price with him on oval tracks, so it’s a good time to take a chance with him.