Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - Food City 500
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Food City 500
Bristol Motor Speedway - Bristol, TN
Track - .533 Mile Oval Short Track
24°-30° of Banking in Turns
This week the Monster Energy Cup Series heads to the World's Fastest Hal-Mile, Bristol Motor Speedway. It is the second short track race of the season but like I mentioned in the Martinsville writeup, all three short tracks are very different. Bristol is a high-banked half mile with a ton of speed and likely even more this week with the new rear spoiler. As for the rest of the rules package, it is the same as years past with the 750 HP setup.
For fantasy, it is all about dominator points. There were three drivers in each race last year to lead 100 laps and at least two in six straight here at Bristol. Place differential can be had here with more passing than say Martinsville. Over the last six races here, five times there have been seven or more drivers pick up double-digit place differential in a race here.
With that, let's jump in and take a look at some trends and top picks for the race.
Last Six Winners at Bristol
- Kurt Busch(started 9th, led 24 laps)
- Kyle Busch(started 1st, 117 laps)
- Kyle Busch(started 18th, led 156 laps)
- Jimmie Johnson(started 11th, led 81 laps)
- Kevin Harvick(started 24th, led 128 laps)
- Carl Edwards(started 1st, led 276 laps)
Track History at Bristol
Kurt Busch won the night race here last year but he has been far from consistent here at Bristol. He has just five Top 10's in his 15 races here with six finishes outside the Top 20. For his career, however, he is second among active drivers with six wins.
First on the career win list here at Bristol is brother Kyle Busch who has seven wins and a whopping 2.232 laps led, 683 more than any other driver. His most recent wins at the track came here at this race last year and the night race in 2017. Like brother Kurt, he has not been consistent here outside those two wins with six finishes out 20th or worse(four were 35th or worse) in the last nine trips.
While he has yet to win a race at the World's Fastest Half-Mile, no driver has been more consistent here over the last two years than Kyle Larson. He finished runner-up in both races last year and finished 9th and 6th in 2017 and in those four races he led 489 laps. He seems to have figured it out, especially on the outside and is definitely one of the favorites to win this week.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman have been consistent here as well. It hasn't been one of Jimmie's best tracks as he has just two career wins but he has finished 11th or better in five straight and eight of his last nine races here including a win in 2017 and five Top 5 finishes. In his first year with HMS in 2018, Bowman finished 5th in the Spring and 8th in the night race.
Kevin Harvick is ranked #1 in my early model weighed heavily on track history and is the only other driver(Larson the other) with a Top 10 in each of the last four races. He also has two career wins here(2016, 2005) and 19 Top 10's in 36 races.
Track Type History(Short Tracks)
I would be doing a disservice if I didn't start this section with Kyle Busch who has been dominant on short tracks throughout this career. With his two wins at Richmond and one at Bristol last season, he passed Jimmie Johnson(14) and now leads all active drivers with 15 career wins on short tracks. Looking at the last two years on short tracks, Kyle has been even more dominant with five wins, nine Top 5's and 10 Top 10 finishes in the 13 races. No surprise here as Kyle is the early favorite to win on Sunday.
The only two other drivers to record multiple short track wins since the start of 2017 are Team Penske teammates, Joey Logano(Martinsville, Richmond) and Brad Keselowski(Martinsville x2). Logano has been slightly more consistent with an 8.2 average finish in those 13 races thanks to seven Top 5 finishes.
Kevin Harvick doesn't have a short track win since Bristol in 2016 but he has been very consistent on the track type. Since the start of 2017, he has six Top 5's and a series-leading 11 Top 10 finishes with a 7.8 average finish, second to only Kyle Busch.
Denny Hamlin joins Harvick, Busch, and Logano as the only other driver with a sub 10.0 average finish on short tracks since the start of 2017. Despite no wins, he has six Top 5's and eight Top 10's and for his career, he has nine short track wins.
Since is 29th place finish here at Bristol last year, Chase Elliott has put together five straight finishes of 7th or better with six Top 5's on short tracks.
It has been the Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske show to start the year as they are the only two teams to reach Victory Lane so far this season.
For me, JGR is at the top of the list with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin both having two wins. Busch is also the only driver to finish all seven races inside the Top 10 and he also leads the series with five Top 5 finishes. Martin Truex Jr. has some ground to make up with just two Top 5's and five Top 10's but he still sits 7th in the standings.
For Team Penske, Brad Keselowski has two wins and four Top 5's while Joey Logano has a win and three Top 5's. Ryan Blaney has been on a roller coaster ride this season with four finishes outside the TOp 20 and a stretch in the middle with three straight Top 5's. He has also led the most laps(195) of any driver not to win so far.
Kevin Harvick has been frustrated and stated after last week's race that he hasn't had a winning car all year. It is not as bad as he makes it out to be as the #4 car is third in points standings with three Top 5's and since the Daytona 500 has six straight Top 10's.
Harvick's teammate, Aric Almirola, also stands out early in the season sitting 5th in the points standings with Top 10 finishes in six of seven races.
Pre Qualifying/Practice Targets
Kevin Harvick/Clint Bowyer
It is close between Harvick and Kyle Busch at the top but I lean Harvick as I like the value with Harvick who is $1,300 cheaper on DraftKings. He has yet to win this season but has six straight Top 10's since the Daytona 500 and seven straight Top 10's at this track including a win in 2016. He gives us some place differential this week starting 13th but showed much better speed on Saturday ranking 9th in practice #2 and led everyone in 10-lap averages then ranked 4th in final practice and was once again on top of 10, 15, 20, and 30 lap averages.
Bowyer has yet to win here at Bristol but finished Top 10 in both races last year and has shown Top 10 speed consistently all weekend. He is also right up there with his teammate Harvick in the 10, 15, 20, and 30 lap averages.
Joey Logano/Ryan Blaney
The Penske teammates are also high on my list this week. Logano has the better track history of the two with Top 10's in seven of his last nine races here with two wins(2015, 2014). He qualified 7th and posted Top 5 speeds in both final practices. Blaney posted his a career-best 7th here last August and I feel that is his floor this time around. He qualified 3rd then posted the 10th best time in both final practices but was 3rd in 10-lap averages in P2 and 2nd to Harvick in 15 and 20 lap averages in final practice.
In the value range, I love Suarez this week. He starts 20th and has finished Top 20 in all four career races here with two Top 15 finishes. More good news as he ranked 3rd in P2(4th in 10-lap averages), and 9th in P3 on Saturday.
Preece will be making his Bristol debut in the Cup series but comes in having won the most recent spring race here in Xfinity Series in April last year. He will start 30th this week and does have some place differential upside posting the 25th-best time in P2 and 17th-best time in P3.
Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for five years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is an active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jager_Bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.
- NASCAR Phoenix Auto Racing: (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)