Bristol Motor Speedway is a half-mile bullring race track, which means that the leader is going to start lapping cars at the back of the pack pretty quickly once the green flag waves on Saturday night. This could easily deter many Fantasy NASCAR players from picking drivers that didn’t qualify well this weekend. However, don’t be so quick to judge, especially considering maximizing place differential points is a pretty big factor in being successful at FOX Fantasy Auto. Additionally, as long as a driver has a good car and can stay on the lead lap, it’s very possible to get to the front from mid-pack or worse. For example, Kevin Harvick won this exact race last year despite starting back in 24th. He will start 29th this time around.
Give me a follow on Twitter: @FanRacingOnline
My team points last week (Michigan 2): 194
Overall team standings: 77th
Total team points for the season: 4,017
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for the 2017 Bristol 2 Race
Jimmie Johnson ($9,400) – We’ve been talking about Jimmie Johnson’s slump here quite a lot as of late, and it’s important to note that right about this time is when he usually gets out of it. (For those that aren’t aware, the #48 team usually use the middle part of the season to test–it happens every year). Johnson had a great car at Michigan last weekend before wrecking it in final practice, and the same is true this weekend at Bristol, as the #48 Chevrolet ranked inside the top 5 in both ten-lap average charts on Friday. The seven-time champion will have to be patient here on Saturday night–Johnson qualified 21st–but he’s more than capable of getting a top 5 finish, and maybe even another win. And at $9,400? Steal.
Kevin Harvick ($12,100) – Kevin Harvick is the highest-owned driver in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend, and he’ll also probably be the highest-scoring. And while some may look at that high salary and think it’s a bad thing, as it makes it difficult to fit Harvick into a roster, it’s actually kind of a good thing because it keeps his ownership percentage relatively low. Harvick hasn’t finished worse than 7th here at Bristol since the 2015 season, and, as mentioned before, he won last year’s night race despite starting back in 24th. He’s going to have to come up from his 29th-place starting spot this time around, but Harvick is patient enough to get to the front. All of the Stewart-Haas Fords were kind of slow during the practice sessions here on Friday, but we’ll be racing at night and the track should change a bunch, so hopefully that helps them out a bit. One small piece of good news: Harvick ranked 10th in ten-lap average during Happy Hour on Friday.
Kyle Busch ($10,800) – Kyle Busch probably has the best car in the field this weekend. The #18 Toyota was 2nd-fastest in the opening practice session of the weekend and Rowdy wound up 5th in the Happy Hour practice later that day. Additionally, Kyle ranked 7th and 2nd, respectively, in terms of ten-lap average during those practices. Finally, Busch has already won the Truck Series and Xfinity Series races this weekend, and will now set his sights on the weekend sweep on Saturday night from his 18th-place starting spot–a nice opportunity for place differential points. Kyle Busch has been atrocious here at Bristol as of late–four finishes of 35th or worse in the last five races–but if he doesn’t find the wall or have any mechanical issues on Saturday night, there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to be taking a bow when it’s all said and done.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($8,000) – Despite hating his car during both practice sessions on Friday, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is almost a must play in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend. The #88 Chevrolet is going to roll off the grid from 31st when Saturday night’s race gets going, and Junior is pretty cheap in this Fantasy NASCAR game, so that allows you to afford some of the higher-priced options. Looking at Earnhardt’s situation from a positive perspective, all of his teammates have very fast race cars this weekend, and Junior finished 2nd in this race one year ago. Additionally, it might be a good thing that the Cup Series drivers practiced during the day and we race at night, as track conditions are going to change significantly. As of Friday night, Earnhardt’s ownership percentage was relatively low (22%), and unless it skyrockets to 40% or higher, I’d recommend starting him in this FOX Fantasy Auto game.
Other viable options: Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex, Jr., Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray
FOX Fantasy Auto Fade Option
Kurt Busch ($9,800) – Kurt Busch has had some terrible luck (and finishes) this season, and that’s not exactly the type of momentum you want to have rolling into Bristol Motor Speedway. One minor mistake here on Saturday night can end a driver’s race pretty easily, and Kurt Busch is the type of driver susceptible to that type of situation. Additionally, the elder Busch brother has been pretty unreliable here at Bristol as of late, with four finishes of 25th or worse in the last eight races at this track, and only four top 10 results in the last thirteen. The #41 Ford will roll off the grid from 25th when this weekend’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race goes green, and while that is a great opportunity for place differential points in FOX Fantasy Auto, it’s nowhere near a guarantee: Kurt was just 25th-fastest in the Happy Hour practice session on Friday.