The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, and while most fans love watching races at this track, it can be a love-hate relationship for Fantasy NASCAR players. Things can change at Bristol in a hurry, as you have 37 cars on a half-mile bullring. There’s sure to be some beating and banging here on Sunday, and if one car wrecks, usually it gathers more with it (there’s just no room to go anywhere). Also, don’t forget about penalties: one pit road speeding penalty under green can easily put a contender 3+ laps down.
The starting lineup for Sunday’s Food City 500 can be found by clicking here, and it’s another great week for options in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, as four of the top 5 drivers in terms of price are starting 12th or worse.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Picks for Bristol
Kyle Busch ($13,500) – Time and time again, the driver of the #18 Toyota proves this to be true: there’s just no reason to go against Kyle Busch right now. Even last week at Texas, when it looked like Rowdy was finally having an “off” weekend, he went out and led the most laps before ultimately finishing 10th. This weekend, Kyle will roll off the grid from 17th place but should be at least a top 5 threat when it’s all said and done. He is a seven-time winner here at Bristol Motor Speedway and is also the defending winner of this race, as he won from the pole here last year. Kyle also won the 2017 fall race in Thunder Valley despite starting back in 18th. Chances are, most Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest players are going to go with Kevin Harvick ($12,800) over Kyle Busch on Sunday because Harvick looked better in practice and he’s cheaper. But Busch has more room for place differential points and hasn’t disappointed race in and race out like Kevin Harvick. Give me Rowdy despite the higher price.
Kurt Busch ($11,100) – Overall, Kurt Busch has been a great Slingshot Fantasy Auto pick this season, simply because this #1 team doesn’t have qualifying down yet. That shows how important place differential can be in this Fantasy NASCAR game. Through the first seven races of 2019, Kurt Busch has had a positive place differential in six of them, with the only exception being the Daytona 500. Overall, his average place differential through the first seven races is +9.6 spots per race, and over the last five races Kurt is averaging +15 spots per race–which equals +30 points in Slingshot Fantasy Auto. Anyway, Kurt qualified 27th for Sunday’s Food City 500 and is the chalk pick this week. He’s also the most recent race winner here at Bristol and has two top 5s in the last three races in Thunder Valley. In other words, he’s a great Slingshot pick on Sunday, especially with how strong Kyle Larson has been in his Ganassi Chevrolet at this track. With that being said, if you want to employ a contrarian strategy, there’s an opportunity there. If Kurt would wreck or just have a disappointing race this weekend, he’s going to be a high-owned driver, so that would give you a leg up on the competition. Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,200) is only $100 more this week and starts 23rd, so he’s a nice pivot play–meaning intentionally avoiding Kurt Busch and going with another driver that is a good play but should be significantly lower-owned.
Clint Bowyer ($10,800) – Kevin Harvick put down some great practice times in Happy Hour on Saturday–especially on the long run–but one guy that wasn’t too far behind was Clint Bowyer. That’s a good sign heading into Sunday for this #14 team. Bowyer will roll off the grid from 8th when the Food City 500 goes green this weekend, and while that kind of limits his potential for place differential fantasy points, don’t forget the Stage points awarded in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. There’s also a chance that Bowyer could lead the most laps on Sunday. Clint led 120 laps here in the fall race last year and wound up 8th in the spring race after starting back in 14th. This #14 team is still looking for their breakout performance on 2019. I think this could be the weekend for them, especially coming off of that season-best 2nd at Texas one week ago.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($9,300) – I remember the spring race here at Bristol back in 2014 quite well. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finished 2nd that day, and I thought to myself, “well, a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.” And then he finished 6th in the fall race that year. Okay, maybe twice. And then followed that up with a 4th-place finish in the 2015 spring race. Hopefully you get the point I’m trying to make. Stenhouse is very good at Bristol Motor Speedway, and if he ends up in victory lane here one day, you won’t find any surprise from me. Overall, Stenhouse owns the best average finish among active drivers here at Bristol–that is not a typo–at 11.3 with four top 5s (33.3%) and six top 10s (50%) in his 12 total starts. He’s also never ended up worse than 24th here. The #17 Ford will roll off the grid from 19th here on Sunday, which is ironically Ricky’s career average starting position at this track as well. There aren’t many tracks that I trust Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in Fantasy NASCAR but Bristol is one of them.
Ross Chastain ($5,000) – Here’s just a “roster filler” pick, but it’s not a bad one by any means. Ross Chastain didn’t put down a lap in qualifying Friday, so he’s going to start from back in 37th when the Food City 500 goes green. The good news is that since he starts in dead last, Chastain can’t possibly have negative points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest this week. Even if the #15 Chevrolet blows up on lap one, Chastain is getting 8 points for the finish. The even better news is that there are some really, really slow cars starting in front of Chastain, and he should have no issue finishing ahead of them. Ross was a 27th-to-30th place car in March and that should continue this weekend. He finished 26th here at Bristol last fall, although that was a race with pretty high attrition. If you want to go with a contrarian strategy down here, I don’t hate Landon Cassill ($5,100) this week. He finished 20th and 25th in the two Bristol races last year for this #00 StarCom Racing team, and has seemed to have a better car this season than the rest of the bottom feeders. Cassill starts up in 31st, too, so his ownership percentage should be incredibly low.