NASCAR Picks for Bristol
Length: 0.533 miles
Location: Bristol, Tennessee
The Cup Series heads back to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for one of the most popular races on the schedule. Even though a rash of changes to the track's layout in recent years have tempered the bumping and banging, cramming 43 cars on a high-banked, half-mile bullring still leads to some exciting moments, and holding the race under the lights on Saturday night makes it that much better. It's not the Daytona 500 by any means, but the Bristol night race is on the short list of races that drivers want to win before they retire.
From a fantasy standpoint, all the changes to Bristol's layout have created some unwanted parity. Some drivers that excelled on the track's original one-groove, bottom-lane-only surface haven't enjoyed as much success on the newly-created progressively banked track. Other drivers have seen their numbers improve on the new surface. More troubling is the fact that few drivers have enjoyed consistent success since the changes began. In the last 10 races, and Bristol only one driver is averaging a Top-10 finish. Meanwhile, only four drivers have finished in the Top 10 in each of the last two races at the track, and no driver has finished in the Top 5 in each of the past two races. In fact, only one driver has multiple Top-5 finishes in the last three races at Bristol.
The bottom line is that while the chaos has been controlled a bit thanks to the new surface, Bristol hasn't necessarily become more predictable. With that in mind, a conservative strategy might not be the worst idea this weekend, especially in Yahoo! leagues and in any format that limits the number of times a driver can be used. The last thing any fantasy owner wants to do is waste a start from one of the big names in the series.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Bristol has always been one of Busch's best tracks, and in 19 career starts, he owns a 10.9 average finish. He also has 12 Top-10s in those 19 starts, including five wins and three second-place finishes. In fact, Busch had made more trips to victory lane at Bristol than any other driver since his rookie season.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
In his last six starts at Bristol, Keselowski has three Top-3 finishes, including back-to-back wins in the summer of 2011 and the spring of 2012. Meanwhile, his 473 laps led during those six races rank second in the series. For his career, he has a 14.3 average finish at Bristol, but it his recent string of strong finishes that makes him such an attractive fantasy option this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
His last win at Bristol came back in the summer of 2004, but Junior has been one of the most reliable options at the track for the last decade. In the last 20 races at Bristol, his 10.0 average finish is the best in the series. During the stretch, he has 17 Top-15s and has finished outside the Top 20 just once.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon has been piling up solid finishes at Bristol recently, logging seven Top-15 finishes in his last nine starts at the track. In fact, Gordon has finished in the Top 10 in four of his last six starts at Bristol, picking up two third-place finishes during the span and finishing seventh in each of his last two starts at the track. Gordon has been one of the most dependable options all year, and that shouldn't change this weekend.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He has been on a tear at Bristol since joining Hendrick Motorsports. In his last four starts at the track, Kahne has compiled a 5.0 average finish and hasn't finished outside the Top 10 in those four races. More importantly, he won the spring race last year and finished second at Bristol last summer.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and in his last 10 starts at Bristol, he has eight Top-15 finishes, including seven Top-10s. During the same stretch, he has five finishes of sixth or better, including his victory last summer. For his career, Kenseth is a three-time winner at Bristol, and his blend of reliability and upside makes him a strong option this weekend.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Bowyer has been one of the safest picks at Bristol the last couple of years, and he has reeled off five straight Top-15s at the short track. During the stretch, he has compiled a 9.0 average finish and has finished seventh or better three times. Bowyer has never won a race at Bristol, but his reliability makes him a great fantasy option this weekend.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He is gunning for a season sweep at Bristol after coming out of nowhere to win the spring race, and Edwards has made a habit of showing up into victory lane at the short track. He is a three-time winner at the track for his career with all three victories coming since 2007. He hasn't been as consistent as some other big names, but his upside is undeniable.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Believe it or not, Vickers' five straight Top-10s at Bristol give him the longest active streak of any driver. During the streak, he has compiled a 6.0 average finish, and he has finished in the Top 5 three times. Vickers should make a strong sleeper option in any format, and he is definitely worth considering as a B-List option in Yahoo! leagues.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Johnson has had some bad luck in his last three starts at Bristol, but his overall numbers at Bristol have been solid lately. He has seven Top-10s in his last 11 starts at the track, and during the stretch, he has five finishes of fourth or better, including a win. Johnson isn't an ideal A-List option in Yahoo! leagues, but he is still more than capable of delivering a strong finish.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He is one of the more underrated options at Bristol, and in the last 20 races at the track, his 11.9 average finish is the fifth best in the series. In those 20 starts, he has 16 Top-15 finishes, and he has finished 12th or better in each of his last three starts at the track. Biffle probably won't carry a fantasy team this weekend, but he should make a solid addition in any format.
Kevin Harvick, #4 Budweiser/Jimmy Johns, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Although his numbers have slipped since Bristol's layout has undergone changes in recent years, Harvick has still managed to post decent numbers at the track. He has six Top-15s in his last nine starts at Bristol, including three in his last five. It's probably best to save Harvick for another week in Yahoo! leagues, but don't be surprised if he ends up challenging for a Top-10.