Every weekend in the world of NASCAR is big, but some are bigger than others. This coming weekend in Bristol will be the end of the road for 4 drivers, as the playoff field will be cut from 16 to 12 after the Bass Pro Shops Night Race. We will get into that a little more at the end of this piece, but for now we have to focus on this one specific race and how it might impact the standings at the top. In Kevin Harvick, we have a clear favorite, but with 8 races still to come, there is a lot that can still happen before a champion is crowned. The battle at the top became even more interesting last weekend, and fans will be hoping that things tighten up even more in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look at a few of the favorites for this weekend, along with their NASCAR odds.
NASCAR Bass Pro Shops Night Race Preview
Denny Hamlin (+400)
Heading into the playoffs, it looked as though Hamlin might be the man to push Harvick all the way to the wire, but he has been disappointing in the 2 playoff races run thus far. After winning 6 races in the regular season and landing in the top 5 in 15 races, Hamlin has failed to even crack the top 10 in the first 2 races of the playoffs. That is not good, especially when you have the drivers ahead of him winning. Last season, Hamlin had a win and a 5th place finish at Bristol, but he finished 17th there earlier this season.
Kyle Busch (+500)
It may seem hard to believe given what he has done in recent years, but Busch is in danger of missing the cut this weekend. If the cut had taken place last weekend, he would officially be out of the running. As it is, he still has a shot at staying alive, but he also doesn’t have a win on the season to this point. A top 5 or top 10 might be enough, but he might even get a win here. In his last 6 races at Bristol he has 3 wins and has only finished outside the top 5 once.
Kevin Harvick (+550)
The current leader in the playoff standings is the man that everyone is trying to catch, but given how consistent he has been, that is not going to be an easy feat. Harvick served notice to the rest of the playoff field by winning the Cook Out Southern 500, the first race in the Round of 16. He followed that up with a top 10 finish. The 23rd time he has done that in 28 races. Another win or two and he might just become impossible to catch. Bristol has no been kind to him of late. After a stretch of 7 straight races in the top 10 there, he has now failed to crack that spot in 3 in a row.
We are all well aware of how things look at the top of the playoff standings, but what about the bottom? The cut is coming this weekend, and the 4 drivers in the most danger are Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Alic Almirola, and Kyle Busch, who looks the most likely to save himself this weekend. It is going to be interesting to see how the standings look after this one.