Thunder Valley. The Bullring. Bristol Motor Speedway. We’re going short track racing for the first time in 2020! Yes, we visited Phoenix a few months ago, which is only one-mile in length, but I don’t consider that a short track. Meanwhile, the Cup Series drivers are set to run 500 laps around the half-mile in Bristol, Tennessee on Sunday, and it’s always some good racing when we stop here.

The starting lineup for Sunday afternoon’s race was set by random draw on Friday. Brad Keselowski won the pole, and Penske Racing will start in three of the top four spots. Click here for the Food City presents the Supermarker Heroes 500 starting lineup.

*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*

Ricky Stenhouse Jr Kyle Busch Michigan Pit Road
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Bristol

Kyle Busch ($12,600) – Rowdy drew the 7th starting spot for Sunday’s race in Thunder Valley, and while that limits his place differential potential for this race, he should still be one of the highest scoring drivers in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Busch is an EIGHT-TIME winner at Bristol and has won three of the last five races here. He also has a 4th-place finish to his credit over that two-and-a-half year span. As far as the lack of place differential potential, Busch should score a decent amount of Stage points Sunday so that’s why I’m not really worried. My only concern is the #18 team doesn’t have a great pit stall selection, but that’s minor. NASCAR is running a similar short track package this weekend as they did in 2018 and Kyle won this race that season.

Chase Elliott ($12,100) – The #9 Chevrolet is ridiculously fast every single week, and while that continues to happen, I’ll blindly pick Chase Elliott in Fantasy NASCAR. Not kidding. Chase had the 2nd-best green flag speed at Charlotte on Thursday night, which puts his average ranking in that statistic at 3.3 since Daytona (click here for the Green Flag Speed Cheat Sheet). Almost unbelievable. Additionally, Elliott has two top 5s in his last three starts here at Bristol, and has led 30+ laps in each of those races, including leading 112 laps en route to a 3rd-place finish in the second race here in 2018. Like Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott starts near the front, but is a threat to win and get a good amount of Stage points.

Clint Bowyer ($10,000) – Clint Bowyer has pretty much been a lock for a good finish at Bristol as of late, and he’s starting back in 23rd on Sunday, so he should get plenty of place differential fantasy points along the way. Looking at the last nine races here at Bristol, Bowyer has posted seven top 10 finishes, including four straight over the last two years. Even better? He hasn’t always started up front, as his last four starting spots were 20th, 8th, 16th, and 14th, while he ended up finishing 7th, 7th, 6th, and 8th. Clint has a career average finish of 14.1 at this track despite never getting a win, and that’s 7th-best among active drivers.

Bubba Wallace ($7,600) – With his 37th-place finish in the second Charlotte race on Thursday night, Bubba Wallace now has two finishes in a row near dead last, but that doesn’t worry me at all. This #43 Chevrolet is generating more speed than we’ve seen out of it in years, and Bubba is talented enough to run top 15 in this car. At Bristol, he’s made four starts and came away with finishes of 16th, 38th, 20th, and 14th. Bubba will roll off the grid from 36th when the Supermarket Heroes 400 goes green on Sunday, so at this price and with his place differential potential, he could be a gold mine in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.

Ryan Preece ($7,500) – It’s pretty much the same story here with Ryan Preece as it was with Bubba Wallace: Preece has had better-than-expected speed this season but has also had some downright bad luck to start out 2020. For Sunday’s race at Bristol, Preece will roll off the grid from 33rd but I wouldn’t be surprised if he made his way up into the teens before it’s all said and done. Ryan’s two starts here last season, his rookie year, ended with finishes of 25th and 18th.

Alternate Roster Considerations

Kurt Busch Monster Energy car 2020 at Auto Club Speedway
Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Daniel Suarez ($6,400) anyone? The #96 team doesn’t have a charter, so whenever we have a race that the starting lineup is determined by random draw, Suarez will always start 37th or worse. On Sunday, he’ll start 37th. In six career races at Bristol, Daniel has never finished worse than 18th, and has an average finish–although you have to note that all of those were in elite equipment. Now, short tracks are where the “little guys” can compete closer to the big teams, so I could actually see you using Suarez in Fantasy NASCAR this week. Personally, I won’t because I don’t think he has any talent.

There’s a lot of solid picks in the middle of the driver salaries if you want to go with a more balanced approach. Kurt Busch ($10,800) starts 12th and has six wins at Bristol, along with three top 5s in the last five events. Jimmie Johnson ($10,600) has finished 11th or better in nine of his last eleven Bristol starts and pulled the 24th starting spot for Sunday’s race, so there’s good place differential there. And it’s hard to overlook a guy like Christopher Bell ($8,100) in a game like Slingshot Fantasy Auto, as he starts back in 35th, and you know how important place differential is in this game. As far as rookies go, though, I tend to stay away from them at difficult tracks like Bristol, especially if it’s their first time racing there in a Cup car.

As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.