This is going to sound like music to your ears… THERE’S NO RAIN IN THE FORECAST AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY ON SUNDAY. Now we just have to worry about gearing up for the first short track race of the season and how we’re going to tackle this Bristol slate on DraftKings. As with any short track, things can change in a hurry at Bristol; one mistake on pit road could easily put a driver down multiple laps with his day ruined. Getting put into the wall is also more likely to happen at Bristol since it’s such a small, half-mile track. Your chances go even higher if you’re running around Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
As far as the starting lineup goes, random draw determined it for this race and Brad Keselowski is on the pole. There are several chalk place differential drivers starting in the back, as well as several back marker cars starting higher up than they should. If you need the starting lineup, click here to see it.
Speed Report in 2020
Let’s briefly go over green flag speed. Once again, Chase Elliott had a ridiculously fast car at Charlotte on Thursday night, and his average ranking in terms of green flag speed is now 3.3 since Daytona. Also, here are the top 5 drivers in average rank since we returned to racing:
- Chase Elliott (3.5 average rank)
- Alex Bowman (7.3 average rank)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (7.8 average rank)
- Kevin Harvick (7.8 average rank)
- Brad Keselowski (8.0 average rank)
You can click here to check out the Cheat Sheet on Green Flag Speed and see how every driver ranks in that category plus more.
As far as the race at Bristol this weekend, I’ll be taking that statistic into consideration rather heavily yet again. This is our first real short track race of 2020 unless you want to count Phoenix, but most don’t consider that a short track considering it’s still a mile in length. So what should we expect? Well, let’s get into the strategy and we’ll go over that, too.
DraftKings Strategy for Bristol
Most people are talking about the short track package that the Cup Series will be running this weekend, and how it’s most similar to the 2018 season and definitely not last year. And since there are 500 laps scheduled here on Sunday, it’s going to be important to nail the dominators when it comes to fastest laps, because there are going to be a ton of points up for grabs in that category. Now, unfortunately, fastest laps aren’t something that’s included in my projections in these posts, so we’re going to go ahead and take a look at which drivers scored the most fastest laps in 2018 at Bristol. These are total over the two races.
- Kyle Busch (105 fastest laps)
- Kevin Harvick (67 fastest laps)
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (61 fastest laps)
- Ryan Blaney (53 fastest laps)
- Chase Elliott (48 fastest laps)
- Clint Bowyer (42 fastest laps)
- Jimmie Johnson (38 fastest laps)
- Kurt Busch (38 fastest laps)
- Brad Keselowski (31 fastest laps)
- Alex Bowman / Erik Jones (29 fastest laps)
When you add in the 2019 races as well as the 2017 events, the average number of fastest laps per race looks like this:
- Kyle Busch (47.7 fastest laps per race)
- Kevin Harvick (36.5 fastest laps per race)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (34.2 fastest laps per race)
- Erik Jones (25.7 fastest laps per race)
- Joey Logano (24.2 fastest laps per race)
- Chase Elliott (21.2 fastest laps per race)
- Brad Keselowski (21.0 fastest laps per race)
- Ryan Blaney (20.7 fastest laps per race)
- Matt Kenseth (18.0 fastest laps per race)
- Clint Bowyer (17.5 fastest laps per race)
Drivers Most Likely to Dominate
The obvious choice here is pole sitter, Brad Keselowski ($9,100). He’s priced well in DraftKings and has 198 total laps over the last four Bristol races, so that’s a positive. Only three drivers have more laps led in Thunder Valley over that same time frame. Who I actually like a little better than Keselowski on Sunday, though, are his teammates, Joey Logano ($10,700) and Ryan Blaney ($8,600). I know I said Phoenix doesn’t compare well to Bristol, but it’s the closest track we have this season, and Logano led 60 laps en route to victory lane there earlier this year. My only concern is that Joey doesn’t always put up a ton of fastest laps. In 2018, he completed all 1,000 laps here and only had 23 total fastest laps.
As far as Blaney, he’s turned into a short track stud and is the highest in terms of fastest laps at Bristol over the last two years among drivers not named Kyle Busch ($12,500) or Kevin Harvick ($12,200)–who are the obvious choices to dominate on Sunday. With Keselowski priced so low, I could definitely see Blaney going a little lower-owned than he should, as most people won’t want to double-up top 5 starters with so many great place differential plays available.
As far as the top dominator on Sunday, I think we’re looking at a Chase Elliott ($11,300) show again. This #9 Chevrolet is just so fast. And the fast that Chase ranked top 6 in both of those fastest laps charts above is noteworthy because that’s when Hendrick Motorsports was in their “down period.” He could put up a huge score here on Sunday now that that organization has speed again.
Drivers To Fade
Random draw for qualifying has its pros and cons, with one major con being that back marker cars can easily start higher than they ever dreamed of. This weekend, those guys are Bayley Currey ($4,500), Joey Gase ($4,600), Quin Houff ($4,700), and possible Gray Gaulding ($5,000) and Garrett Smithley ($4,800). Now, the beautiful thing about Bristol is that there’s a high possibility of wrecks, which means the drivers typically down at the bottom of the field can move up and get decent finishes if they just stay out of trouble. Still, I’d sparingly use the drivers above, if at all.
Another thing I like to pay attention to is whether or not a car is sponsored. NASCAR doesn’t let teams start and park anymore (wink wink) but there’s typically a noticeable difference among these back marker cars if they have a sponsor on the car. Looking at the latest entry list, there’s several cars without a sponsor listed (I count nine) so this is just something to keep an eye on if you’re going to dig this deep.
GPP / Tournament Plays I Love for the Supermarket Heroes 500
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,100) – Unless this is your first year watching races and/or playing NASCAR DFS, you probably won’t forget about the picture above anytime soon. It was the ultimate heartbreak story for Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol last season, as he was in an under-funded car but had a chance to win at one of NASCAR’s most famous tracks, only to be beat late by Denny Hamlin. Then again, it wasn’t all bad, as that performance is probably a big reason why DiBenedetto landed a ride in the Wood Brothers #21 Ford. So why is the runner-up from the last Bristol race on my list of GPP plays that I love? Because I think he’s going to go relatively low owned, considering Christopher Bell ($7,300), who starts back in 35th, is priced right above DiBenedetto, with Erik Jones ($7,000) priced right below him, starting 15th. Matty D starts the highest of the three, in 9th, which isn’t ideal for those looking for place differential points. However, DiBenedetto could have legitimate top 5 speed on Sunday, and that’s why I love him in GPPs. He also has Penske power with the Wood Brothers alliance, and the three main Penske drivers rank 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-best when it comes to average number of fastest laps over the last four Bristol races. DiBenedetto has showed top 10 speed this season and could be looking at his second top 5 of the year on Sunday.
Austin Dillon ($6,300) – Austin Dillon is under-priced this weekend, and like Matt DiBenedetto, he’s sandwiched between drivers starting deep in the field if you’re scrolling through the salaries on DraftKings. I love taking advantage of this because most people will flock to the place differential play without taking strategy into account. And even so, the #3 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 20th on Sunday, which gives Austin Dillon decent room to move up. Since we’ve returned to racing, Dillon hasn’t finished worse than 20th, and he’s coming off of a top 10 finish at Charlotte on Thursday night. Here at Bristol, he’s ended up between 13th and 15th in four of the last six races. With the addition of Reddick to RCR this season, it appears Austin may be running just a tad better, so he might be able to pull off a top 10 finish on Sunday–with some luck, of course (it’s still Austin Dillon we’re talking about).
John Hunter Nemechek ($5,500) – There are two super cheap options on the DraftKings slate this weekend that are actually very decent Fantasy NASCAR picks: John Hunter Nemechek and Michael McDowell ($4,900). They both start a little higher than I’d prefer–Nemechek starts 18th and McDowell 25th–but I really don’t mind using either of them because they’re so cheap. In GPPs, I like going overweight on Nemechek, though, because he starts higher. Now, taking a chance on a rookie starting 18th sounds crazy at Bristol, but it’s seemingly “crazy” roster moves that allows you to win the big tournaments. John Hunter Nemechek has outperformed his equipment all season long, and at a track like Bristol, driver talent shines even more. Since NASCAR has gotten back to racing, Nemechek has finished 17th in three of the four races, and that includes a 9th-place finish in the Southern 500 at Darlington. For what it’s worth, he swept the top 5 here at Bristol in the Xfinity Series last year.
Bristol DraftKings Projections
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems. Also included are projected laps led for each driver. This doesn’t take into account fastest laps. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||5||$9,400||39.5||08.4||29||$238|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||16||$7,400||30.4||14.8||0||$243|
|John H. Nemechek||18||$5,500||15.2||23.4||0||$362|