NASCAR Cup Series drivers will embark to Bristol Motor Speedway for their third and final race in the Round of 16 on Saturday, Sept. 19. Get your NASCAR DraftKings rosters ready, it’s Bristol, baby!
It’s the second race at Thunder Valley this year for the sport’s top division (or third if you count the All-Star Open and Race). It means competitors have already experienced how their cars handle with this higher horsepower package, giving you a good base of results to draw from. Though the All-Star Race didn’t count for points in the Cup standings, it was at night and also doubled as the first event to feature the choose rule. There won’t be underglow lighting this time around, but certain drivers will still shine on the track.
The first race at Bristol was run at the end of May during the daylight and featured multiple wrecks, including a few that took out several contenders. Three drivers led 100 or more laps: race winner Brad Keselowski (115 laps), fourth-place finisher Kyle Busch (100) and Denny Hamlin, who ended up 17th (131).
However, in the Bristol night event last year, nine drivers led more than 20 laps and no one broke the century mark. Some lap leaders began in the top 10 while others started near the back. When you create your DraftKings lineups, you will need to decide which drivers will lead laps and if there will be a lot of attrition in the race. Bristol is definitely different from Richmond Raceway in that respect; there will likely be at least one caution for an incident. If there are multiple crashes, then some underdogs and low-salaried drivers could avoid them and finish better than expected. Choosing the right ones will be key to winning your contests.
Remember, DraftKings awards 0.50 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 points for each lap led. Additionally, the site adds or subtracts a point for each position a driver gains or loses on track. Finally, the driver in first scores the most points (46). Second place gets 42 DraftKings points, third gets 41, and so on. The key in daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings is not only to target the best drivers but the ones who gain the most positions from where they start.
Before I share my picks for this week, let’s go over last week’s results from Richmond Raceway.
|$10,900.00||Martin Truex Jr||59.5|
Martin Truex Jr. didn’t lead any laps like I expected, but he did finish second behind dominator Keselowski. Additionally, Busch and Christopher Bell rebounded after starting in the back due to inspection failures and unapproved adjustments. However, if I had swapped out Busch for Keselowski (who scored 124 DraftKings points), I would have won some money.
The minimum cashing score was 254.75 in the $1 single entry double up, while almost 300 DraftKings points were needed in the $1 Happy Hour tournament.
Note: The following is a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup for Saturday night’s race; you can use this information to create your own.
NASCAR DraftKings Plays/Sample Lineup for Bristol
Chase Elliott ($10,700)
Career at Bristol: 9 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 4 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 12.7
Elliott has had some strong runs at the Last Great Coliseum this year. In May, he soared to the lead early on, spent plenty of time up front, and nearly won the race after leading 88 laps. Unfortunately, Joey Logano snuck up on him late, passing Elliott with three laps to go. Elliott battled back but ended up wrecking himself and Logano, an incident which left him mired back in 22nd. However, he claimed redemption in the All-Star Race, leading 60 laps en route to $1 million.
Elliott’s had to endure multiple heartbreaks this year, including incidents at Darlington with Busch in May and with Truex to open the playoffs.
Even with these setbacks, Elliott has done fairly well on DraftKings. Since the All-Star Race, the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports pilot has only had one negative score. His scores range from 32.5 at Kansas Speedway to 70.5 at Daytona International Speedway. Last week at Richmond, Elliott earned 52 points after notching 11 fastest laps, two laps led and a solid fifth-place result.
Elliott’s also led 33 or more circuits in each of the past four events at Bristol, including 112 in 2018. He’s definitely one who should be on your radar this week.
Kyle Busch ($10,400)
Career at Bristol: 30 starts, 8 wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 13.1
No current Cup driver has as many victories as Busch at this .533-mile track, though his brother Kurt Busch does have six wins. Kyle has crossed the finish line first in three of the past six Bristol events, with the latest coming in spring of last year. Additionally, he’s led 100 or more laps in three races in that same span. He nearly won in May, in position to capitalize on the Logano-Elliott wreck, but it appeared he slowed down just as Keselowski sped up. Busch ended the race in fourth place.
One issue that might make daily fantasy users hesitant to choose Kyle Busch is that he’s had several negative scores and poor results this year. However, one of those recently came at Daytona, while another occurred at the track’s road course. He was running near the front in both events before suffering setbacks in the closing laps.
It also doesn’t help that Busch hasn’t won a race yet this year, but if there’s any race he can win, it’s this one. Busch has the speed and can maneuver well around this track; in fact, he ended just behind Elliott in the All-Star Race. There’s no reason why he can’t take a trophy home this week. It’s a boom-or-bust moment for the reigning NASCAR champion, as a bad race can knock him out of the Round of 12.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,600)
Career at Bristol: 37 starts, 2 wins, 13 top fives, 22 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 13.0
Speaking of one who would like to win, Johnson certainly fits the bill. What better way to go out in his final full NASCAR season than with a trophy from Thunder Valley? He won there in the spring 2017 event and led 81 laps. While he hasn’t led any laps at Bristol since, he does have four top 10s in the past six BMS races, including a podium in May. He went all the way from 24th place to third, keeping his car mostly clean (except when he tagged Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from behind). Johnson will start in the same position Saturday night.
The seven-time champ needs a good recovery this week after hitting the wall early on at Richmond. Prior to that disappointing result, Johnson was trending up on DraftKings, posting scores mostly above 30 since August. He even totaled 67.8 DraftKings points in the second event at Dover International Speedway after etching out 30 quickest laps. Look for him to get a good result this week, possibly playing spoiler while the playoff drivers fight it out behind him.
Austin Dillon ($7,800)
Career at Bristol: 13 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 17.4
Boy, what’s gotten into Dillon lately? He finished second to Kevin Harvick at Darlington two weeks ago and fourth last week after leading 55 laps. Additionally, Dillon etched out 56 fastest laps, boosting his DraftKings score to 80.8. Somehow, his salary dropped $100 from last week; perhaps because he’s starting fifth this week. Whatever the reason, Dillon should still be one to watch.
Earlier this season at Bristol, the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing wheelman gained 14 positions to end in sixth. A few months later, Dillon wound up third behind Clint Bowyer and Matt DiBenedetto in the All-Star Open. While a few drivers were out by race’s end due to winning the stage or crashing out, it still showed how strong his car is with this package. If Dillon keeps his Chevrolet’s nose clean, he should again contend near the front.
Bubba Wallace ($6,800)
Career at Bristol: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Bristol: 19.6
Wallace hasn’t had as many strong results in 2020, but he did finish fifth at Daytona and earned a ninth at Michigan International Speedway. The latter performance helped him to score 50 DraftKings points, a rarity for him behind the wheel of the No. 43 Chevrolet. Additionally, he gained 26 spots at Bristol to end 10th and was 11th at Martinsville Speedway. Wallace has really seemed to perform well at half-mile tracks this year (not counting the All-Star Race).
However, Wallace recently announced he would be parting ways with Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season. It may have changed his present focus, which does make him a bit of a risk. Still, even if he just gets in the teens, it would produce good value that could help you be in the green on DraftKings.
Dark Horse Performer
Ryan Preece ($5,700)
Career at Bristol: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 18.3
For the first time since the first race of the Pocono Raceway doubleheader, Preece earned his second-consecutive top-20 finish with JTG Daugherty Racing. While that may not be a big deal for most drivers, it definitely is for the wheelman of the No. 37. Two weeks ago at Darlington, Preece earned 45.5 DraftKings points after ending in 17th, 18 spots better than where he started. It’s been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year.
Earlier this season at Bristol, Preece took advantage of other’s misfortunes and claimed 12th position, a season high. He also had another finish in the teens last August, though he was a few laps behind. By the way, did you know Preece won in the Xfinity Series at Bristol in 2018? Though Preece was in much stronger equipment then, he could still get a top 15-17 this week, which would yield a nice DraftKings score.
Hopefully for Preece, who’s suffered from bad luck most of 2020, he won’t get into trouble Saturday night.