Bristol Motor Speedway is home to some of the best racing action on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. It is also a track that Fantasy NASCAR players have a love-hate relationship with, as the races in Thunder Valley are never very cut and dry.
This weekend, the Cup Series is scheduled to run 500 laps on Saturday night for the 2017 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. Erik Jones is on the pole with Kyle Larson alongside, and then there’s a bunch of good cars scattered throughout the field to start the race. The good news is that it is possible to make your way through the field at the half-mile race track. The bad news is that your car has to be good to start the race to stay on the lead lap.
Expect a lot of comers and goers as Saturday night’s race goes on. The PJ1–or whatever they’re referring to the sticky residue on the track this week–has shown that it will easily wear this weekend, and cars will soon find their way to the top groove to gain speed. Additionally, we’ll be running this race at night on Saturday, and that’s noteworthy because the practice sessions on Friday were ran in the morning and early afternoon. Take those speeds with a grain of salt.
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DraftKings Plays for the Bristol Night Race
Matt Kenseth ($9,400) – This #20 team has something figured out right now, and they just might get a victory this weekend to lock themselves into the playoffs and allow them to stop worrying about points. If you’ve followed Matt Kenseth for very long throughout his racing career, you know that he rarely shows his hand in practice. So when the #20 Toyota was 6th-fastest in the opening practice session of the weekend and then, more importantly, P1 in ten-lap average during Happy Hour, that quickly signaled that Kenseth has a damn good race car this weekend. As far as Bristol goes, Matt is a four-time winner here and always seems to find his way to the front to lead some laps at some point in the race. He started 22nd and finished 4th here last time we raced at Bristol, and this time he starts 5th and has a car capable of leading some laps. A lot of DraftKings players are going to target the high-dollar drivers on Saturday night, but there’s a few sub-$10,000 guys that are definitely worth considering this week.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,300) – Drivers in this price range are going to get overlooked this weekend, but there’s actually a couple that have a good shot at putting up pretty big scores on Saturday night. Jimmie Johnson is the most recent winner here at Bristol Motor Speedway and will roll off the grid from 21st when the 2017 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race goes green. And while the #48 Chevrolet lacked speed during qualifying on Friday, the team was more than happy with their car in race trim, and actually quit Happy Hour a little early. Overall, Johnson ranked inside the top 5 in both sessions on Friday when it came to ten-lap average, and he has finished 7th or better in five of the last six Bristol races.
Trevor Bayne ($6,900) – Last week at Michigan, Trevor Bayne nabbed his first top 5 finish of the 2017 season, and with that also a seven-race skid of finishes of 20th or worse. This #6 team has definitely taken a step back from where they were in the first half of the season, but that doesn’t make them total garbage. This weekend, Bayne qualified in 20th position for Saturday night’s race, which is right in the area where the “did he qualify too high?” thoughts start creeping in. With that being said, Bayne laid down the 7th-fastest lap in Happy Hour here on Friday and has finished 15th or better in each of the last four Bristol races, including 12th or better in the last three. Looking at the rest of the drivers in this price range, Bayne might be the only sub-$7,000 driver to crack 30 FPTS on Saturday night.
DraftKings Fades for the Bristol Night Race
Brad Keselowski ($10,100) – BK is one of four DraftKings drivers that is priced above $10,000 this weekend, and while he has some room for place differential points on Saturday night after qualifying 17th, most of the Fords look to be down on power this weekend, so that almost makes Keselowski un-affordable. Additionally, his luck here at Bristol just hasn’t been very good; Keselowski hasn’t finished better than 18th in Thunder Valley since the 2015 season, and he has just three results better than 14th in the ten races ran here since his win back in 2012. In addition to the poor finishes, Brad has averaged just 10 fastest laps per race over the last four Bristol events. There are better options that are also cheaper this weekend.
Ryan Blaney ($8,900) – Ryan Blaney actually didn’t look too shabby in Happy Hour here on Friday afternoon, but let’s not forget what driver we’re talking about here. One thing I’ve learned this season is that Blaney rarely backs up his good practice speeds with a solid race day performance, so when the #21 Ford is just on the fringe of being a good Fantasy NASCAR pick, it’s usually best to just stay away. Additionally, Blaney has had back luck time and time again here at Bristol Motor Speedway, with three finishes of 22nd or worse in his four career starts here. The final nail in the coffin is his salary this weekend: at $8,900, Blaney better be putting up a good amount of dominator FPTS, and that’s just not happening on Saturday night.
Erik Jones ($8,700) – Capturing as many dominator points as possible is going to be the key in having a profitable night on Saturday, and no driver is in a better position to start the race than Erik Jones. Now the question becomes, can he stay out front? The #77 Toyota looked stout in both practice sessions here on Friday, ending up inside the top 10 in both the overall average speed as well as the ten-lap average charts in each. Additionally, we saw last week at Michigan that Erik Jones can be an actual contender. He has a great record here at Bristol in the Xfinity series (including two wins) and last time we were here, Jones posted 24 fastest laps and had an average running position of 8th. However, Jones has a hungry Kyle Larson starting alongside him on Saturday night, and there are quite a few other drivers that have the cars good enough to lead a bunch of laps in this race. Pole sitters at short tracks are usually good picks in DraftKings, but Erik Jones will probably be over-owned on Saturday night, and unless he leads for 80+ laps, he’s not going to be worth that price tag. For what it’s worth, over the last five Bristol races, three of the pole sitters led less than 55 laps in the race.
Completely Avoid for the Bristol Night Race
Kasey Kahne ($7,400) – Just…no. He starts 3rd and will be lucky to finish on the lead lap.