In case you thought we were going to get a “normal” weekend in Fantasy NASCAR… try again next week. It all started with Kevin Harvick wrecking in the opening practice of the weekend, and then deciding not to make a lap in qualifying. He’ll start from dead last in 39th. We also had a handful of big-name drivers not perform very well in qualifying, including Denny Hamlin (25th), Martin Truex, Jr. (26th), Ryan Newman (30th), and Jamie McMurray (31st)–among others. You also have to throw in the fact that we have a lot of rain in the forecast for Sunday’s scheduled race, so we might be looking at a Monday race again.
The Bristol Food City 500 is scheduled for 500 total laps, which means dominator points are going to be huge. With that being said, there’s a decent chance that this race gets shortened because of weather. As far as I’m concerned, though, we’re going 500 laps here sometime, and all of my projections are based on that as well. With the 500 laps scheduled, that means there’s 125 FPTS up for grabs for laps led this weekend, and I’m estimating around 215 FPTS for fastest laps, depending on the amount of cautions. One thing to remember about Bristol is that there’s typically quite a few comers and goers, and once the leader gets into lapped traffic, it’s very easy for drivers behind him to post fastest laps.
Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch?
Yes. That is the answer to that question. Both Kevin Harvick ($11,500) and Kyle Busch ($11,300) are elite DraftKings plays at Bristol this weekend. Kyle Busch comes in at a couple hundred dollars less than Harvick, but starts on the pole so could really kill your day if he has trouble. Harvick, on the other hand, is going to start from dead last for the Food City 500 and only has up to go from there. From a dominator perspective, Kyle Busch is the obvious choice between the two, as I have him projected to lead about half of the race this week. However, the place differential points for Harvick are going to be huge, and if he’s able to put up some fastest laps along the way, he could be the better play over Rowdy. I think Kyle Busch is going to be one of the highest-owned DraftKings drivers for Bristol, and because of his similar price, that should make Harvick lower-owned than he should be. From a strategy perspective, that means Harvick would be the better play in GPPs, just from a differentiating perspective. With that being said, between these two drivers, I’ll have more Kyle Busch this week than Kevin Harvick.
GPP Drivers I Love For The Food City 500
Denny Hamlin ($9,500) – It’s very possible that Denny Hamlin gets overlooked by a lot of DraftKings players this weekend. He’s right in that price range where it tends to happen. And, yes, he starts back in 25th, but he has Kyle Larson just $200 higher than him, and I think a lot of people would take the #42 over the #11 if given the choice. Obviously this opens up the door for a strategy pivot to Denny. The #11 Toyota was junk up until Happy Hour, when Hamlin posted the 3rd-fastest lap and the 3rd-best ten-lap average as well. Here at Bristol, Hamlin has posted 3rd-place finishes in three of the last five races, and in the two races last season, he actually had the 3rd-best average running position (7.5) despite leading just 10 total laps. That’s impressive. Hamlin has a good car this weekend, and I think if he can get to the front, he can lead some laps. Let’s just hope he doesn’t speed on pit road.
Clint Bowyer ($8,200) – I might be too high in Clint Bowyer this weekend, but I’m expecting a huge race out of this #14 team on Sunday. Although they are two different tracks, Bowyer is the most recent winner on short tracks in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and he also finished runner up to Jimmie Johnson in this race one year ago. As far as this weekend goes, Clint qualified 14th, but he probably has a top 5 car. Hello place differential points! Additionally, Bowyer doesn’t quite have the speed of Kyle Busch, but he’s close–and we all know how the Stewart-Haas cars have performed thus far in 2018.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,600) – Rolling the dice with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. this weekend is about the riskiest thing you can do. But we’ve all seen how the huge GPPs play out–typically there’s one guy in the winning lineup that you had 0% exposure of. That could be Stenhouse this weekend. Obviously there are some very good race cars starting out front for Sunday’s Food City 500, and that includes the #17 Ford on the outside pole since Kurt Busch will have to move to the back of the field at the green flag. Now, Stenhouse has never led a lap here at Bristol, but that could change this weekend. He loves his car, and he has the speed to back it up–including the best twenty-lap average in Happy Hour. Overall, Stenhouse has an average finish of 10.8 here in Thunder Valley, and even has a couple runner-up finishes to his credit. Now, am I going to have that much Stenhouse exposure this weekend? Not likely. But he’s going to make his way into a few of my lineups as a major off-sequence GPP play.
Salary Cap Relief in Thunder Valley
Any short track opens up the doors for punt plays, simply because of the relatively high chance that one wreck can take out five to ten cars. As far as the DraftKings drivers not priced in the sub-$6,000 range, I like Trevor Bayne ($6,000) this weekend, simply because of his ability to avoid wrecks. He’s also finished 15th or better in each of the last five Bristol races, so that’s definitely a positive. He’s starting back in 33rd for this year’s Food City 500, though, so it’s hard to see him making his way into the top 20 without a bunch of attrition.
In the sub-$6,000 range, Ty Dillon ($5,900) is starting back in 32nd, but he’s not very good at Bristol and will have to rely on others wrecking. Michael McDowell ($5,800) qualified far too high this week (9th), and his teammate, David Ragan ($5,400) did too (24th). With that being said, it’s worth having some Ragan exposure on Sunday. He was super fast during the practice sessions on Saturday and actually put down the fastest lap in Happy Hour (and 13th-best ten-lap average). Just be careful, though: typically when teams like this show that kind of unexpected speed, they have mechanical issues during the race. A pivot off of Ragan if you’re going that route would be Matt DiBenedetto ($5,600), who qualified 24th but actually runs quite well at Bristol. The last four races in Thunder Valley have ended with Matt in 26th, 19th, 17th, and 6th. As far as any driver below that, you’re looking at pure punt plays there. Harrison Rhodes ($4,900) would be my top option, but Corey LaJoie ($4,700) could surprise some people. He starts back in 34th but is in that #72 car that Cole Whitt has had some really good runs with lately. Of course, LaJoie tends to wreck everything he gets his hands on so…
Fade That Pick!
If Kurt Busch ($8,500) wouldn’t have wrecked in Happy Hour, he would have been on my “Drivers I Love” list. That #41 Ford was putting down laps right in line with the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch, and all it would have taken is one slip up for Kurt to take the lead early on. However, the #41 team is bringing out the backup car for Sunday, which means Kurt will start at the rear. He’ll still be scored from the 2nd-place starting spot, though, which is a bummer. It’s significantly harder to rack up dominator points after starting in the back.
As far as a driver that should be high-owned that’s worth a shot fading, I think Kyle Larson ($9,700) is your guy. Yes, I have him projected with the 3rd-most FPTS this weekend, but let’s take a step back here and realize a few things. One, the Chevrolets have yet to really show up and compete on Sundays. Larson himself has yet to have more than 15 fastest laps in a single race this season, and his 2nd-place finish at Fontana is really the only bright spot in the last month for him. Finally, Larson is really going to have to rely on that high lane coming in during the race, and it didn’t during the Xfinity event. Obviously the Cup Series race is longer and should put more rubber down, but they’ll also be starting with a green track due to the rain. Plus, I’m assuming Bristol Motor Speedway will apply another layers of PJ1 to the bottom groove before the Food City 500 gets going.
Driver Point Projections for Bristol
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems, using both mathematical equations as well as personal rankings. This chart also includes the average projected base + laps led + fastest laps DraftKings FPTS as well as the dollar per FPT. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Starting Position||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$10,800||55.5||26||09.5||0||9||$195|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$7,600||21.5||4||15.3||0||8||$353|
|Darrell Wallace Jr||$6,300||17.0||20||23.5||0||0||$371|