Ahh…Bristol Motor Speedway. Chances are you have a love-hate relationship with this race track: you love watching the racing in Thunder Valley, but there have definitely been times where the Fantasy Gods have not been on your side. The important thing about Bristol is that we have 500 laps to run under the lights here on Saturday night, and while there are very good race cars starting up front, there are also very good race cars that didn’t put down an incredibly fast lap in qualifying. Obviously in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, place differential is huge, but at the same time, drivers can get wrecked quite easily at this half-mile bullring. What I’m getting at here is that this could be the week to play a little more risky than usual and fade the favorites.
Click here for the starting lineup for Saturday night’s race at Bristol. You can also find the speeds from Practice #1 on Friday by clicking here. For speeds from the second practice (Happy Hour), click here.
*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.*
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Slingshot Picks
Kyle Busch ($13,200) – Yes, I said this is a week that you could take chances, but I’m not going against Kyle Busch at Bristol–even though he’s starting 31st. That kind of track position to start a race at a half-mile track obviously isn’t advantageous, but it’s definitely not a killer, either. Rowdy has done plenty of passing in his career here at Thunder Valley, and if you look at his eight (yes, eight) wins here in the Cup Series, only one of them came when he started higher than 12th. He’s also never gone to victory lane starting worse than 20th, but that could change this weekend. Busch got screwed by the qualifying draw this weekend and had to go out first, which is the main reason he’s starting so far back on Saturday night. He’s so good at this track, though, that I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he won Stage 1. Busch should put up a massive Slingshot score this weekend unless he wrecks or runs into some kind of issue.
Joey Logano ($11,800) – I don’t know why, but I have this feeling that Joey Logano might fly under the radar this weekend. But he really shouldn’t. Joey is a two-time winner at Bristol Motor Speedway and has also finished inside the top 10 in eight of his last ten starts at this track. That includes top 5s in the last two (along with 241 laps led). Speed-wise, the Penske Fords always show up on the shorter tracks, but if you look at Practice #1 on Friday, nobody was even in the same realm as Logano when it came to ten-lap average. He ranked 5th-best on that chart in Happy Hour, but it should be noted that he made his long run very late in the session while the four drivers faster than him made it within the first 20 laps. Over in my ifantasyrace articles I had Logano ranked #1 heading into the race weekend and I kept him there after practice qualifying as well. He starts 11th so there’s room for place differential points there as well.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,400) – Jimmie Johnson will probably be the highest-owned driver in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest on Saturday night, simply because he’s starting from back in 30th and he’s priced well at $10,400. So in other words, if you’re looking to stay away from the drivers that will affect a lot of players negatively if they wreck, here’s a great choice. I’m still sticking with Jimmie, though. The thing about Johnson this weekend is that the #48 team focused solely on race trim during the two practice sessions on Friday, and that’s a big reason why the #48 Chevrolet was slow in qualifying. With that being said, Bristol is a great track for Jimmie Johnson, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he came away with a top 10 finish on Saturday night. That’s where he’s ended up in five of the last six races here, by the way. The exception? An 11th-place finish in the April 2017 race.
Chris Buescher ($7,400) – Can you remember the last time Chris Buescher had a terrible race? I couldn’t, I had to look it up. And his last finish outside of the top 18 was back at Dover in May when he finished 23rd–which obviously isn’t “terrible” for a driver of his standards. Buescher chugs along week after week as a fantasy gold mine in place differential leagues, and this weekend he’s set to start from back in 29th when the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race goes green. He’s finished 22nd and 19th in his last two starts here in Thunder Valley, but honestly I’m expecting more out of this #37 Chevrolet on Saturday night. Buscher showed top 20 speed in both practice sessions here on Friday and I’d guess his early qualifying spot is the main reason he’s starting so far back. He’ll be fine, though.
Ty Dillon ($7,000) – Here’s my “off-sequence” pick for the weekend. I expect Ty Dillon to be quite low-owned on Saturday night, partially because he qualified 24th, which is pretty high for a driver in his tier. However, let’s take a look at how Ty has performed on the shorter tracks this season: 15th at Phoenix, 13th at Martinsville, 15th here at Bristol in April, and 16th most recently at New Hampshire. That’s pretty damn good. Specifically here at Bristol, Dillon has a couple of top 15 finishes to his credit in his six career starts, and finished 21st here in this race last season. Ty is very good at staying on the lead lap or within one lap of the leaders, and if he can do that again on Saturday night, he should be able to pull off a mid-teens finish.