2024 Food City 500: Preview, Best Bets, Longshot Pick

Four points races, four different winners. That speaks to the competitiveness of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series, where Christopher Bell added his name to the list last weekend following a win in the second Duel at Daytona last month.

The series leaves the West Coast and heads to Tennessee for Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Bell is also the defending champion. However, this year’s race will have a distinctly different feel with it being held on the track’s concrete surface rather than the dirt that covered it for the past three spring races.

“I love racing at Bristol,” Bell said. “It’s literally my favorite race on the schedule. I’m very thankful we get to go twice this year. It’s been a track we have excelled at the last couple of times we have been there — we’ve been close.

“Having a versatile car is the key to a good run at Bristol. We know the bottom will be good because they are spraying the resin (traction compound) down, and we know the top is going to come in at some point, so you have to have a car that can really run both places.”

Our motorracing experts preview the race at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” and provide their best bets along with a longshot pick to keep an eye on this weekend.


Location: Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.

Date: Sunday, March 17, 3:30 p.m. ET

Distance: 500 laps, 266.5 miles on 0.533-mile track

Defending champion: William Byron

Cup Series leader: Ryan Blaney


Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Christopher Bell (+400 at BetMGM)

In addition to being the defending champion, Bell has finished third and fourth in his past two Bristol Night Races. He’s second at the sportsbook with 10.7 percent of the total money wagered backing him to repeat. Bell is tied with Kyle Larson with three stage wins at Bristol in the Next Gen car.

Denny Hamlin (+525)

The winner of last year’s Bristol Night Race has three career victories at the track, tied with Brad Keselowski for the second most among active drivers. Hamlin is looking to get back to Victory Lane for the first time since the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum to open the 2024 season.

“As a purist, I love seeing this race back on the concrete,” said Hamlin, who leads the field with 12.7 percent of the money backing him to win. “Obviously, as the last guy that won there, it’s going to be good to go back there and kind of test what this car wants compared to what we had in the past.

“We’re going to have to tweak on it, but we feel like we’ve got a good base setup with what we had last year.”

Kyle Larson (+550)

Larson won just two weeks ago in Las Vegas and remains second in the standings heading to Bristol, where he won the Night Race three years ago en route to the championship. He’s also tied with Bell for three stage wins at the track in the Next Gen car while leading nearly 800 laps in his last nine Bristol starts.

Ryan Blaney (+1000)

After opening at +1400, Blaney’s odds dipped as low as +900 while being backed by the most total bets in the field with 12.1 percent. He’s also third in total money backing him to win at 10.1 percent, making Blaney the book’s biggest liability this week.

Kyle Busch (+1200)

He’s the leading active driver by a large margin with eight career Bristol victories. However, Busch’s most recent short track victory came back in the spring of 2019 while with Joe Gibbs Racing. Typically popular with the public, Busch is the second biggest liability this week while being backed by 6.7 percent of the total bets on the race winner.


Brad Keselowski (+1400)

Keselowski won the most recent Bristol spring race on concrete back in 2020, when he ran from the pole. He hasn’t won a Cup Series race in nearly three years, a drought that has lasted 102 races and spanned his move from Team Penske to RFK Racing. He does have three career wins at Bristol, and Keselowski is third with 6.5 percent of the total bets backing him this week.