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Chase Elliot is congratulated after winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP)
Chase Elliot is congratulated after winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP)|Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR: At Bristol can you bet against Kyle Busch? Eckel thinks Ryan Blaney & Kevin Harvick have a chance to win the Food City 500

Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tennessee, 2 p.m.

Mark Eckel

Week eight of NASCAR heads to Bristol’s “Thunder Valley’’ for the Ford City 500.

Always one of the better races of the season, Bristol started in 1961 when Joe Weatherly took the checkered flag.

Through the years Rusty Wallace (six wins), the Hendrick MotorSports Racing Team (eight wins) and Chevy (23 wins) has ruled the 266.5-mile track in Tennessee.

Lately, however, Toyota has won three of the past four races here. And Kyle and Kurt Busch have combined to win eight times since 2002.

Chase Elliott grabbed the pole position Friday and will look to add to Hendrick’s and Chevy’s win total Sunday afternoon.

Driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Elliott toured the 0.533-mile, high-banked track with his final round run of 14.568 seconds at 131.713 mph. Prior to Friday’s effort, all four of Elliott’s previous poles had come on what had been the series’ restrictor-plate tracks – three at Daytona International Speedway and one at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I’ve been wanting a pole outside of Daytona and Talladega for quite some time now,” Elliott told NASCAR.com. “I felt like I was able to deliver a pole to my team that really deserves it, on way more than one occasion over the years. I felt like I haven’t (done) my part.”

Kyle Busch, the current points leader and the winner of this race a year ago, will start out of the 17th spot.

A driver to watch Sunday is Ryan Blaney, who nearly had the pole, but settled for the third spot right behind Elliott.

Blaney, driver of the Team Penske No. 12 Ford, led through the first two rounds, racing his way to the top of the scoreboard with single-lap efforts. But the final round proved to be a different story.

“I got greedy,” Blaney told NASCAR.com. “Got greedy into (Turn) 3 and missed it. Probably would have run about a (14).45. Got loose out of (the turn) and lost it just a little bit.”

Here’s this week’s selections for the win, top 3, top 5, head to head, fantasy or however you choose to bet NASCAR.

As always we are aided by our “experts’’ Scott ‘Tobacco Road’’ Baker and Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney.

Kyle Busch (5-2) — Despite starting 17th, Busch is the favorite and you can’t leave him out of the mix. He’s not only won this race four times, but has seven wins in his career at Bristol to go with 10 top 5 finishes. The odds are short, but again leave him out at your own risk.

Ryan Blaney (12-1) — “Left Turn’’ has a feeling this is the week Blaney gets to the front for the first time this season. He qualified well and has been racing well. He just hasn’t gotten a lot of luck. Maybe Sunday is his day.

Kevin Harvick (12-1) — “Tobacco Road’’ thinks Harvick, who is third overall in points after seven weeks but does not have a win, gets there this week. He has 12 top 5 finishes at Bristol, including a third-place finish in 2017.

Others to Watch: Joey Logano (7-1), Brad Keselowski (7-1).

Longshot Play: Eric Jones (18-1)