Betting news, trends, odds and predictions for from various handicappers and websites for Wednesday 7/15/20
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By Micah Roberts
NASCAR keeps bringing it strong for its fans searching for some sort of sports entertainment and this week they give us two events.
The first coming on Wednesday under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway’s high-banked half-mile bullring for the non-points All-Star Race where the winner will get a $1 million check.
Race 1: All-Star Open
Race 2: All-Star Race
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Race 1: FS1, 7:00 p.m. ET
Race 2: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway
Location: Bristol, Tennessee
Welcome back Fans!
It’s the first time the All-Star Race will not race on a 1.5-mile track and the first time since 1986 that the mid-season race will not race in Charlotte. It’s a fantastic idea and Speedway Motorsports Inc. should have alternated the race around several of its tracks long ago, but fans were part of the reason.
NASCAR and Tennessee are expected to allow up to 30,000 fans in the Thunder Valley track, the most allowed in any race since the pandemic shutdown. The drivers and teams all appear to be for the race at Bristol even though the Charlotte event kept them near home and their own pillows.
“Bristol is one of my favorite tracks, so I’m really happy that the All-Star Race will be there this week,” said eight-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch. “It’s been a good place for us over the years. We had a good run there in the first race, and I think we can take some notes from that first race and apply them for this week. It’s probably the best we’ve been at a track since we’ve come back racing.
“Hoping we can have a good run with our M&M’S Camry. They are trying out a few things like the choose cone and the lights underneath and the numbers back on the door. I think they did a great job with our M&M'S scheme. It’s a good opportunity to try some new things, but we’ll still want to bring home that million (dollars, first price) and try to win that thing if we can.”
Handicapping the Exhibition
Just like the other All-Star Races, this one will have a qualifying race called "The Open" that is 85 laps split up into three stages (35 / 35 /15 laps) with the winner of each stage advancing to the All-Star Race and then one other driver will be invited by winning the fan vote which is likely to be Bubba Wallace.
The All-Star Race itself has the same eligibility to start in by either winning a race in the past two seasons, winning a past All-Star Race, or winning a Cup Championship.
It’s 140 laps split into four stages (55 / 35 / 35 / 15 laps). But the big difference this season is that this race is going to go be fast and the drivers will use all ability to move up fast without fear of losing points or punting a driver out of the way.
Charlotte speeds are fast and a driver is always worried about safety more there than Bristol where the speeds are slower.
Bumping a driver out of the way at Bristol is less worrisome and I expect plenty of tempers to flare as all are going for the same $1 million check with the clock ticking faster Wednesday night than a normal Bristol race that runs 500 laps.
The other thing I like about Bristol on Wednesday night instead of Charlotte is that we get to see a race package hardly used, the one with engines producing 750 horsepower and smaller spoilers that has raced only three times this season, the last at Martinsville Speedway on June 10.
In the small sample size we have with Wednesday’s race package, a few drivers have stood out collectively and they’ll be the ones I key on.
Drivers to Watch
Brad Keselowski (8/1)
He has won three times at Bristol and led 812 laps over 21 career Cup starts while also having a 2008 Xfinity Series win and a 2014 Truck Series win, but a bet on him in the first Bristol All-Star Race is more about the success he’s had this season with the 750 horsepower package.
He was 11th with it at Phoenix in the last race before the shutdown, but then won at Bristol May 31 and was third at Martinsville on June 10. His team appeared to have an edge over the rest of the teams and he loves Bristol as well. He has never won the All-Star before.
Joey Logano (10/1)
He won two races before the shutdown, but none since in the 11 races that have passed. But I have an easy excuse for his apparent demise. The 550 horsepower package is a bit behind with his Penske Ford aided by a crew chief change by all three Penske drivers.
But in the three races run with the 750 horsepower package, he’s had two top-five, which include leading 60 laps in a win at Phoenix and leading a race-high 234 laps at Martinsville before finishing fourth. He’s a two-time winner at Bristol and has led 766 laps over 23 Cup starts.
Jimmie Johnson (30/1)
He’s a four-time All-Star winner and this seems like a moment he can make the most of in what is likely his final All-Star start. Last week I saw a tenacious Johnson at Kentucky battling the week after missing a race due to COVID-19.
Most of all why I like him Wednesday night, besides his chunky odds, is his history at Bristol with a 13th-place finish in 37 starts which ranks second-best among active drivers. He has 13 top-fives, including two wins, and 914 laps led at Bristol. He performed well in three 2020 races with the 750 horsepower package with a 12th at Phoneix, third at Bristol and 10th at Martinsville after leading 70 laps.
Denny Hamlin (8/1)
Most of his success this season has come with the other race packages on the big tracks, but his showing with the 750 package was at Bristol when he led a race-high 131 laps before finishing 17th.
He has two career Bristol wins, nine top-fives, and led 828 laps. He won the million-dollar check in the 2015 All-Star Race. Overall on the season, he’s tied for the series lead with four wins.
Ryan Blaney (12/1)
I’ve seen him win a 2014 Xfinity Series race at Bristol and a 2015 Truck Series race while also seeing him lead 439 laps between his last five Cup starts there. Since joining Penske he’s been contending in every Bristol race for the win but he’s been in two accidents, one while leading in 2018, and only has one top-five to show for his excellence. Wednesday’s race is only 140 laps and will be over quick which benefits him based on past results.
I’ll be back Thursday with a betting preview and video for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 so be sure to come back and visit.
NASCAR All-Star Race
Top-Five Finish Prediction
1) #2 Brad Keselowski (8/1)
2) #22 Joey Logano (10/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (30/1)
4) #11 Denny Hamlin (8/1)
5) #12 Ryan Blaney (12/1)
NASCAR All-Star Open
Stage & Fan Projections
Stage 1: #10 Aric Almirola (5/1)
Stage 2: #14 Clint Bowyer (10/1)
Stage 3: #21 Matt DiBenedetto (12/1)
Fan Vote: #43 Bubba Wallace (20/1)
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