2023 Bass Pro Shops Night Race: Preview, 5 Best Bets, Longshot Pick

Martin Truex Jr. won the regular-season points race but finds himself in a precarious position entering Saturday’s Bass Pro Shop’s Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Truex has stumbled to 18th- and 36-place finishes through the first two races, leaving him seven points below the cut line for the Round of 12. Meanwhile, he’s entering a track that Truex admits “hasn’t been my favorite place.”

In 32 starts at Bristol, Truex has posted two top-fives and four top 10s for an average finish of 20.8.

“The points situation is the same as every other race,” Truex said. “This weekend, we just need to qualify the best we can, run up front and hope for good things to happen, but we really just have to control what we can control.

“Bristol hasn’t been my favorite place, but we’ve had some good runs there, too. I think we’ve been competitive there over the years. … Hoping we can have a strong run there and get to the next round of the playoffs. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick have secured their spots in the Round of 12 with victories the past two weeks.

Kevin Harvick currently occupies the 12th spot, ahead of Truex. He’s 19 points clear of Bubba Wallace, 22 ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and 40 above Michael McDowell, who almost certainly needs at win at Bristol to advance in the playoff race.


Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m. ET

The Distance:500 laps on 0.533-mile track

Defending Champion: Chris Buescher

Cup Series Leader: Kyle Larson

TV: USA Network

Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Kyle Larson (+425 at BetMGM)

Larson won the first playoff race and has been a very popular choice this week after backing it up with a fourth at Kansas. After opening at +600, Larson’s odds have continued to shorten while being backed by the most total bets (9.7 percent) and money (14.6 percent) to win Saturday night.

Denny Hamlin (+475)

Hamlin was edged out for the pole by a miniscule 0.008 seconds after finishing second at Kansas. He is second at the book with 13.3 percent of the money backing him to win.

Christopher Bell (+625)

Bell enters Bristol 10th in the standings, 13 points above the cut line. He also sits on the pole for an unprecedented third consecutive week to open the playoffs, although the first two resulted in 23rd- and eighth-place finishes.

Brad Keselowski (+800)

Keselowski is the top Ford in the current playoff standings courtesy of a pair of top-10s the past two weeks. He’ll start in solid position after qualifying sixth.

Kevin Harvick (+1500)

Harvick owns three career wins at Bristol, the most recent coming in 2020. He has also posted top-10 finishes in 10 of his past 13 visits. However, he’ll have to battle his way through the pack after qualifying 21st.

“The ‘just survive’ strategy at Bristol is great as long as you’re up in the points or in the middle of the pack in the points,” Harvick said. “But if you’re in the bottom third of those points, you’ve got to make some stuff happen and try to get points in the stages and try to win the race.”


Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+12500)

Stenhouse is 22 points below the Round of 12 cut line and desperately needs a strong race Saturday night. His longshot odds have made Stenhouse the book’s biggest liability this week, as he has been backed by 3.0 percent of the total bets.