The NASCAR Truck Series heads to North Wilkesboro Speedway this weekend. It’s the third-ever event at this track and the first since 1996. The only drivers with a Truck Series win to their names here are Mike Bliss and Mark Martin. The race will get underway on Saturday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m. ET — and I’m here to make my Tyson 250 predictions to help you find the best NASCAR Truck Series bets for the action at North Wilkesboro.
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NASCAR Truck Series Predictions for the Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro: Race Preview
How Do You Handicap a Track We’ve Never Visited?
It’s tough. No NASCAR-sanctioned race has taken place at North Wilkesboro Speedway since 1996 — or in my lifetime. So how do you handicap an event at a track you’ve never seen anyone race at? The Truck Series itself didn’t start until 1995. I studied up on some old race film, mostly from the Cup Series, to get ready for this weekend. That said, the best source of an edge might actually stem from the recent on-track activity here.
Three lucky Truck Series drivers were selected to represent their manufacturers for a test at North Wilkesboro a few months ago: Corey Heim, Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith. While they were driving Cup Series vehicles in that test, the track time at this course could prove especially valuable. Hocevar and Heim will also participate in late model events before Saturday’s Truck Series race, as will Ty Majeski, Grant Enfinger and Tyler Ankrum.
The other thing to note for this weekend’s event is the sheer number of Cup Series regulars on the entry list. Kyle Larson will drive the No. 7 for Spire Motorsports. William Byron will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Unsurprisingly, the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers are the favorites to win Saturday’s event. Other notable names include Ross Chastain (No. 41, Niece Motorsports), Christopher Bell (No. 61, Hattori Racing Enterprises) and Bubba Wallace (No. 1, TRICON Garage).
The best comparator circuit for North Wilkesboro is Martinsville Speedway. North Wilkesboro is a relatively flat, 0.625-mile oval with an uphill back stretch and a downhill front stretch. Martinsville isn’t a perfect comparator, of course, especially since the pavement here is so old. We’ll also want to look at the results from Darlington Raceway, another track with a rough surface that chews up tires.
NASCAR Truck Series Predictions for the Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro: Best Bets
Can Corey Heim Keep This Hot Streak Up?
Few Truck Series regulars have stood out more at the tracks that compare to North Wilkesboro Speedway this year than Corey Heim. Heim won at Martinsville after leading a race-high 82 laps and beating out his former boss, Kyle Busch, in the process. He then went on to finish eighth at Darlington after leading 66 laps and finishing second in both Stage 1 and 2. He even recorded the second-best driver rating in that event as well.
Unlike most of the field, Heim will have run laps in both late models and Cup cars by the time the green flag flies on Saturday. That should give him an advantage early in the event. He should also have an advantage in qualifying. Heim qualified on fourth at Martinsville and won the pole at Darlington, beating out multiple Cup Series regulars in the process.
Heim may not find a way to finish ahead of Larson or Byron on Saturday. He managed to beat Byron at Darlington last week. He even bested the No. 51 Chevrolet, then driven by Busch, at Martinsville. Heim’s top-5 odds sit at +180 (35.7%) on Caesars Sportsbook. Let’s back him at that price. I’ll also throw a bit on his outright odds at +1600 (5.8%) as well.
Best NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bet: Corey Heim 16-1 for 0.1 Units at Caesars
Best NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bet: Corey Heim Top-5 +180 for 0.4 Units at Caesars
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Who’s Better: William Byron or Kyle Larson?
The sportsbooks are listing Kyle Larson against William Byron on the matchup markets in what should be an even fight. But instead of listing this close to even, Caesars has the odds heavily stacked in Larson’s favor. That doesn’t stand well with me, especially not after what we’ve seen from Byron in recent weeks — and after what we’ve seen from Spire Motorsports in the Truck Series.
Byron just ran a Truck Series race last weekend in the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He finished a solid fourth after reading seven laps and winning the second stage. It marked his second Truck Series start of the year after he finished third at Bristol Dirt. Larson is coming off a Cup Series win at Darlington and won at Martinsville in the Truck Series last year. Those factors make him one of the best bets for the inaugural Tyson 250.
In contrast, Kyle Larson hasn’t run a Truck Series race since 2021. He’ll take the wheel of a truck that hasn’t scored a top-10 in three attempts this year with Corey LaJoie and Jonathan Davenport behind the wheel. Last year, this truck scored one top-5 finish in 11 starts despite having Byron, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and Austin Hill behind the wheel six times.
Best NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bet: William Byron vs. Kyle Larson +105 for 0.5 Units at Caesars