Monster Energy Series Food City 500 Pick
The first race at Bristol Motor Speedway on this year’s NASCAR’s Cup Series schedule is set for this Sunday afternoon. The Food City 500 is slated to get underway at 2 p.m. with FOX Sports 1 carrying the race nationally.
Top Value Food City 500 Picks
Denny Hamlin became the third Cup Series driver to win multiple races this season with last Sunday’s victory at Texas Motor Speedway. Rounding out the top three drivers in that race were Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez.
Turning to this Sunday’s race at Bristol, 5Dimes online sportsbook has released the odds to win, and the following three drivers offer some substantial value in their numbers.
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Top Favorite - Kyle Larson +700
While Kyle Busch is listed as a +500 favorite to win on Sunday to successfully defend last year’s title in this race, I am going with a different Kyle as the second-favorite on the list. Larson has been relatively quiet through the first seven Cup Series events with just two runs inside the top 10. The No. 42 race team is holding down 12th place in the current standings with a total of 185 points. Despite the absence of any wins or even top-five finishes, he was able to lead 142 laps in an earlier race at Atlanta before fading to 12th. A wreck took him out of last week's race at Texas, so he has been dealing with some hard luck as well.
The real value in Larson’s odds is directly related to his recent performance at this Sunday's track. He finished second in both Bristol races last season, and he has been inside the top 10 in his previous four trips around this oval.
Top Contender - Kevin Harvick +1200
I went with Harvick last week as one of the top favorites, and he finished eighth. Other than his wreck at Daytona in the season opener, he has been right in the mix with six Top 10 runs in a row. This includes three inside the top five with a trio of fourth-place runs. It is just a matter of time before the No. 4 Ford runs a complete race to take the checkered flag. For its early efforts, this race team is in fifth place in the standings with 277 total points.
This is another driver that earns most of the betting value from the recent runs at this week's track. Harvick has not finished outside the top 10 in his last seven Cup Series races at Bristol. He won the second race here in 2016 to notch his second career victory at this racing venue.
Top Longshot - Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +2500
I am rolling the dice on Ricky this week as my top-valued longshot. Other than a sixth-place finish at Las Vegas, the No. 17 Ford has had a tough time hanging with the leaders this season. This includes last week’s 16th-place run at Texas. While current form helps explain his longer odds for Sunday, I still think there is some value in the number given his overall body of work. Stenhouse is 13th in points through the first seven events with 183 after missing the playoff last season while ending up 18th on the final 2018 list.
I was also encouraged by his fourth-place finish in this event last season. He has been "hit or miss" at Bristol over his first 12 trips around the track in a Cup Series race. However, five of those trips resulted in a finish of sixth or better.