Kyle Larson is the favorite but what other drivers make for an intriguing bets in Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway?
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This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series visits Nashville Superspeedway for the first time in the history of stock-car racing‘s highest level. While the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series have history at the venue since it opened in 2001, the Cup Series hasn‘t visited — and it makes for some intriguing questions about who will do what this weekend.
With qualifying being held Sunday morning before the race, it‘s anybody‘s guess who will start where — but as we enter the weekend, there are some stud drivers who need no introduction that are perched atop the NASCAR betting odds. There are also some talented veterans who‘ve had success at Nashville in the lower series ranks.
Take a look at who tops the NASCAR racing odds:
THE ODDS-ON FAVORITE
Kyle Larson (+175)
Kyle Larson again, eh? That‘s right. Larson is quickly earning a reputation for being so talented he could probably wheel a fire truck with a flat tire around a track during a race and still be competitive. He‘s that good.
Larson won the All-Star Race last weekend in Texas, and he‘s won the last two NASCAR Cup Series points races (Sonoma and Charlotte). He hasn‘t finished outside the top five in more than 45 days, has 11 top-10 finishes in 16 starts, and has shown he can win on just about any kind of track.
So why wouldn‘t he be at the top of the NASCAR odds this week, right?
OTHERS: Along with Larson, Martin Truex, Jr. (+1000), and Chase Elliott (+550) have run well on a myriad of tracks this year and the odds reflect that. While the Cup Series hasn‘t visited Nashville before, Truex, Jr. has. Back when he was dominating the Xfinity Series in the mid 2000s, Truex, Jr. took second at Nashville Superspeedway in 2004 and fifth in 2005. So it‘s been awhile for Truex, but unlike a lot of his competitors this weekend — he at least has a solid record at the track. Like Larson, Elliott is solid just about anywhere.
That takes us to Kyle Busch (+1000), who I just can‘t drop into the dark horse threat category below. Busch has won at Nashville in Xfinity (one time), the Camping World Truck Series (twice), and ARCA (once). We put him in the dark horse category last week and it just seemed … inappropriate. Or put more simply — weird.
THE DARK HORSE THREAT
Brad Keselowski (+1400)
Brad Keselowski‘s very first win at any level in NASCAR was at Nashville in 2008. Talk about sentimental. Driving the No. 88 for JR Motorsports, he battled Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann for the win. That win launched what has become a big-time stock-car racing career. Up until then, he wasn‘t much more than a stroker in the Camping World Truck Series.
Like Busch above, Keselowski has had success at Nashville before, just in a lower series. In 10 Xfinity starts, he had two laps, seven top-five finishes while leading 253 laps.
This venue helped launch a career that has seen him win a NASCAR Cup Series season championship (2012), an Xfinity Series title (2010) and grab 35 Cup Series victories along the way. And he‘s still several years away from his 40th birthday, so there‘s time to add to it.
OTHERS: Denny Hamlin (+850) was five-for-five when it came to finishing in the top 10 back when he raced at Nashville in the Xfinity Series. Granted, that was a long time ago (just like with Busch and Keselowski) but it may be just the mental edge he needs to secure that first 2021 victory so he‘s firmly locked into the NASCAR postseason later this year. That‘s right, he still doesn‘t have a win, even though he‘s leading the season‘s points race.
THE INTRIGUING LONG SHOT
Aric Almirola (+15000)
Hear me out on this: Aric Almirola has the eighth-best average finish on intermediate-length tracks since the beginning of the 2018 season, and some of his best success has come at 1.5-mile, D-shaped oval tracks, which is as about close as it gets to Nashville‘s 1.33-mile, D-shaped form. Almirola has led 175 laps at these tracks since 2018 (all with Stewart-Haas Racing), with seven top-10 finishes. He also has three career top-10 finishes in four attempts at Nashville in the Xfinity Series.