The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Bristol, Tennessee this week for the Food City 500.
If you have a NASCAR track on your bucket list, you need to ensure it is Bristol. The Last Great Colosseum is one of the best tracks to watch a race in person. The electricity of the 160,000 fans and the roar of the engines is something words cannot describe. Bristol races usually come down to a last lap pass which adds to the excitement.
While the race is great for fans, it is very difficult for the drivers. Most drivers start the race in good spirits, but it does not take long for tempers to flair. This is a race where fans need to stick around to see what happens on pit row at the end of the race.
Fantasy teams may also be frustrated when the checkered flag is waived. The fastest cars do not always win the races at Bristol. The cars are so close together that when one car spins it can cause a multi-car pileup. Selecting drivers who qualify up front will be important this week. The best way to avoid a wreck is to be in front of it.
Here are my picks for the Food City 500 at Bristol.
Yahoo Group A Picks
There will be plenty of good options in Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing this week. Every driver from this group has won a race at Bristol except Ryan Newman. It will be hard to find a bad choice for your team this week, since each of these drivers knows how to get around the high-banked half-mile track.
Do not ignore the drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing. They dominated the last short track race at Martinsville with three of their four drivers finishing in the top five. Joe Gibbs Racing also has a good track record at Bristol. Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin would be good selections for your team in Sunday’s race.
Hendrick Motorsports usually dominates at Martinsville, but their short track program did not look very good. Jeff Gordon was the only driver from the organization to finish in the top 10. Jimmie Johnson will have momentum after winning at Texas, but it would be wise to save these drivers for the intermediate tracks this season.
Kevin Harvick has been the best driver this season, but Bristol is not the race to select Harvick for your team. This is his worst race track. Harvick only has one top-10 finish in his last 11 races at Bristol. Save him for the race at Kansas next month.
My sleeper pick this week is Matt Kenseth. He has a series-best driver rating in the last four races at Bristol. Kenseth has finished 19 of his 30 starts at the track in the top-10. Kenseth may not qualify up front, but he does have a habit of finishing up front at the end of the race.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
Logano was the best driver on the short tracks last season and he is off to a good start this year with his third-place finish at Martinsville. In the last race at Bristol, Logano started fifth and led 76 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Do not be surprised to see Logano make it back-to-back wins at Bristol.
The last selection for Group A came down to a decision between Matt Kenseth and Keselowski. I chose Keselowski because he has more momentum right now. Since the race at Daytona, Keselowski has finished each race in the top 10. He also has three straight top-five finishes. Keselowski finished second here last year and it would be no surprise to see him in Victory Lane Sunday.
Other good choices: Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Yahoo Group B Picks
This is the week when the drivers from Group B could lead your team. Many of the drivers from this group consider Bristol one of their best tracks. It will not be hard to find value from this group for Sunday’s race.
Roush Fenway Racing has always been good at Bristol. Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have the best average finishing position in the last four races at the track, but this team has been hard to rely on this season. None of their drivers finished in the top 15 at Martinsville. Selecting a driver from Roush Fenway Racing is a risky pick this week.
My sleeper pick in Group B is Paul Menard. He has finished six of the last eight races at Bristol in the top 10. Menard usually runs well in the early races of the season. He would be a good option this week if you want to save one of the more popular drivers on your team.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group B.
Bristol could be considered one of Kahne’s best tracks. He has one win and finished 10 of his 22 starts in the top 10. Kahne has the second-best driver rating in the last four races at Bristol. If Kahne is going to win a race to secure his place in the Chase, it could happen this week at Bristol.
If we learned anything about Larson last year it is that he knows how to get around the track at Bristol. Last year Larson started 40th and was able to drive his car to a 12th-place finish. Starting that far back and finishing near the top 10 is very difficult at this track. Larson should finish in the top 10 this week with more experience at the track.
Edwards used to be known as “Concrete Carl” because of the way he dominated the races on the concrete surfaces. He lost some of his dominance at this track until he was able to find his way to Victory Lane in this race last year. Edwards needs a kick start to his season and Bristol is the perfect place for it to happen.
Busch has been so good this season on the intermediate tracks that it would be hard to justify using him at a short track. It would be a good idea to have Busch on your team for bonus qualifying points. Busch has five wins and finished 15 of his 28 races at Bristol in the top 10. He is a great insurance policy for your fantasy team this week.
Other Good Choices: Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yahoo Group C Picks
Since the racing at Bristol is so unpredictable, Group C is a great place to gamble with your team. If a driver and his crew chief plays their cards right, one of the smaller teams could find their way into the top 10 at the end of the race.
Danica Patrick will be a popular pick this week. She has been running well this season, but Bristol may not be one of the tracks to use her for your team. Patrick has only finished one race in the top 20 at this track.
My sleeper pick in Group C is David Gilliland. He will not finish up front but he has finished eight of his last 10 races at Bristol in the top 25. That is good value for a driver from this group.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Ragan had a great run at Martinsville. He started 20th and finished in the top five. Kyle Busch is the best driver at Bristol, so Ragan should have all the resources he needs to finish up front. He is by far the best choice in Group C this week.
Allgaier had good results in his first year of racing in the Sprint Cup Series at Bristol. Allgaier finished both races last year in the top 20. Most fantasy teams would be happy to take another top-20 finish from Allgaier in Sunday’s race.
Other Good Choices: David Gilliland and Brett Moffitt
Fantasy Live Picks
Short track racing at Bristol provides fantasy players an opportunity to score multiple bonus points and climb in your league standings. There are 500 laps in Sunday’s race and 250 bonus points available in Fantasy Live. Teams will want to try and earn as many of these bonus points as possible this week.
Qualifying will be very important at Bristol. The drivers who qualify up front will get to choose the premium pit stalls and have the best chance to lead many laps. The best strategy for Fantasy Live is to select drivers who start up front in Sunday’s race and hope they lead the majority of the laps. If it pays off, you will have your highest score of the season.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Bristol:
Driver 1: Joey Logano $28.25
Driver 2: Matt Kenseth $26.00
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $21.75
Driver 4: David Ragan $12.75
Driver 5: Justin Allgaier $10.25
Pick to Win: Joey Logano
* Driver prices based on prices at Texas
Fox Fantasy Racing
The strategy this week for Fox Fantasy Racing is not much different than Fantasy Live. While finishing differential is more important in this game, fantasy teams will still want to select the drivers who have the best opportunity to finish in the top 10. Most of the time these are the drivers who start the race in the top 15.
The biggest problem with selecting drivers who start the race in the back is that it only takes approximately 20 laps (10 miles) for the leader to start lapping cars. Once your driver gets lapped, your team will be fighting an uphill battle the rest of the race.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Bristol:
Driver 1: Joey Logano $12,800
Driver 2: Brad Keselowski $11,700
Driver 3: Kurt Busch $8,800
Driver 4: Carl Edwards $8,800
Driver 5: David Ragan $7,700
* Driver prices based on prices at Texas