It’s short track racing under the lights, the way racing is meant to be, for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. The tour heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Aug. 19. TV coverage will be provided by NBCSN.
It wouldn’t be a race at Bristol without aggression and drama, and the concrete half-mile makes it hard to miss wrecks. The dominant car can often get crashed out in someone else’s mess. This adds an extra factor when filling out your daily fantasy NASCAR lineup, as it becomes more about the drivers who can keep their cool and avoid incidents.
Although the short track located right near the Virginia/Tennessee line serves as an equalizer for teams, Bristol is all about the Busch brothers. Kyle and Kurt Busch have combined to win the past four races at the track and have 14 total wins there. Still, look for some of the smaller teams to be running further up front than usual.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, it allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 500-lap race will have a total of 50 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack competitors who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for Saturday night’s race:
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kyle Busch ($15,500)
Career at Bristol: 28 starts, 8 win, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s
Average Finish at Bristol: 13.8
While Darrell Waltrip is the undisputed greatest ever at Bristol, the younger Busch brother is the greatest of the last 20 years at the short track. His eight wins and 2304 laps led are the most among active drivers. In one of those wins, he led 415 of the 500 laps. Plus, Busch is the only driver ever to sweep all three Bristol national touring series races in a weekend — and he’s done it twice.
Three of his Bristol wins have come in the past four races, including the spring race this year. He’s way more expensive than any other driver this week, but Busch is worth every single penny.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000)
Career at Bristol: 8 starts, 0 win, 1 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average Finish at Bristol: 19.6
He’s been fast every time he goes to Bristol, but Blaney’s just had a ton of bad luck there. In the Spring 2018 race, Blaney was leading when lapped cars crashed right in front of him to take him out. In the two races since then, he’s finished seventh and fourth at the half-mile. He led 100 or more laps in all three of those races.
Blaney has won Bristol races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, and it is only a matter of time before he wins one at the Last Great Colosseum in the Cup Series. Even if that win doesn’t come this weekend, he’s still a good drive to have in your lineup.
Kurt Busch ($10,600)
Career at Bristol: 37 starts, 6 win, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s
Average Finish at Bristol: 14.3
In the early 2000s, the older Busch brother was the guy to beat at Bristol, winning four out of five races from 2002-04. After a 12-year winless streak at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, Busch returned to victory lane in this race one year ago.
His six wins and 1,086 laps led are second among active drivers, and he’s in a three-way tie for the most top fives. Busch has won at Bristol for three different teams and two different manufacturers, and he will add to both of those numbers should he win Saturday night. In the spring race this season, Busch came from 27th to finish second — that’s some major points for positions gained.
Like his brother, Kurt Busch has got to be in your lineup this week.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
Jimmie Johnson ($8,800)
Career at Bristol: 35 starts, 2 win, 12 top fives, 21 top 10s
Average Finish at Bristol: 13.1
You wouldn’t think it because he only has two wins there, but Johnson is consistently good at Bristol. He’s part of that three-way tie for most top fives, has the most top 10s and has led the third most laps among active drivers. His 13.1 average finish at Bristol is third best among active drivers. His average starting position is 15.0, so he’s usually good for some positions-gained points.
Johnson’s second most recent win was at Bristol in 2017. He’s finished 11th or better in nine of the last 10 Bristol races with five of those being top fives. Johnson has gone five straight races without a top 10, and there’s no better chance for him to snap out of that spell than Saturday night.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,700)
Career at Bristol: 13 starts, 0 win, 4 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average Finish at Bristol: 13.0
Stenhouse was good at Bristol even when the Roush Fenway Racing cars were at their worst. He finished runner-up in Spring 2014 and Fall 2016 and had never finished outside the top 25 until the spring race this year.
Despite struggling in his two most recent Bristol outings, Stenhouse has the second best average finish among active drivers. His average starting position is 19.6, so Stenhouse usually scores a lot of positions-gained points at the half-mile.
Stenhouse will ruffle some feathers Saturday night, and it could result in him being up front or crashing. But for as low a price as he is on FanDuel, there is far more upside in having him in your lineup.