Bristol Night Race

Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Bristol Motor Speedway is the host of all three top Nascar series this week…The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoor Truck Series.  Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race is the 24th of the regular season, leaving only three races remaining to make the playoffs. Clint Bowyer has the final transfer spot with Daniel Suarez just six behind, and Jimmie Johnson 12 out of the position. None of the trio has any room for error Saturday night.  Kyle Busch has had things figured out at Bristol for years now. He’s won three of the last four races at the track and has eight career Bristol victories. The JGR driver is anxious for Saturday’s opportunity to sweep the track’s two races in 2019.  Busch will also be competing in the Xfinity race this weekend.  It is this writer’s opinion that it is an advantage to run multiple series at the same track in a given weekend.

The tilt at Bristol is harsh.  There are typically close to double digit leaders throughout the race, and plenty of “rubbing” and “bump and runs” to go around.  Throw in the race for the playoffs and you can expect a lot of aggression when the green flag waves Saturday night.  Remember that one mistep here can cost a driver going multiple laps down.  Many top drivers are capable of making that up if it happens early in the race by way of the “lucky dog” rule, but it’s something to keep in mind when gambling on shorter tracks versus longer speedways.  Truex (5.8), Blaney (9.2), Keselowski (11.2) and Elliott (12.7) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the six oval races this season with the 750 horsepower package being used this weekend.

Past winners entered this week are Kyle (8) and Kurt Busch (6), Keselowski (2), JJ (2), Harvick (2), Logano (2), and Hamlin (1).

As always, my articles are directed at DK gpp formats, but I will be around in chat to discuss FD options and cash plays for those players interested.  Let’s get to it.

NOTE – This is an impound race.  Inspections are at 1:30pm on Saturday at which time anyone failing inspection will move to the back and be scored from the back.  This will have a dramatic effect on values, so be sure to check back with us in chat before the green flag waves.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch is an 8-time winner at Bristol and will be at the top of everyone’s wish list heading into race day.  Kyle Busch is a eight-time winner, has combined to lead 800 laps in his last 10 starts.  In 3 of the last 4 he’s raced his way to victory lane.  In this year’s spring race, Busch finished 1st, earned the 3rd best driver rating, and led 71 laps.  Last summer, in the only race he didn’t win here in his last four attempts, Busch finished a misleading 20th. On lap 3 he was involved in a wreck which put him 2 laps down.  He still managed to work his way back to the top five before contact with another car finally ended his chances.  In spring 2018, Busch raced his way to victory lane from the pole. In the race he led 117 laps, and earned the 2nd best driver rating.  In summer 2017, he also won here, leading 156 laps.  Rowdy had and unfortunate draw for qualifying and had to go out first, on a slick, hot track.  He rolls off 31st and is about as good of a positional value as you could ask for.  He’s a tough fit at his ridiculous salary, but the rest of my article this week focuses on some drivers that may help you squeeze Rowdy into your lines.

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson is probably very eager for this week’s race.  It may be the best track in the series for him to get a win at this stage of his waning career.  He’s a two-time winner who’s been remarkably consistent. In 9 of the last 10 races at “Thunder Valley” he’s finished in the top 11.  Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but they show he’s consistent here, despite his ever fading results in the last few years.  Over the last six races he has the best average finish (6.8) and the third best average running position (9.7). Earlier this year, Johnson ran well finishing 10th, and earning the 11th best driver rating. Last summer, Johnson had a great car and came home with a 9th place finish.  In spring 2018, he finished 3rd.  In the three races prior to that Johnson had results of 11th, 1st and 7th.  JJ also qualified early in the draw and rolls off 30th.  Don’t let that fool you.  He’s been fast in practice, and if he can avoid trouble, I expect him to move through the field.  He’s a great value this week at $7200.  Let’s make use of that salary.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has been one of the hottest drivers in the series lately.  Hamlin has finished in the top five in the last five races this season.  Hamlin, who won the 2012 Night Race, has finished in the top five in five of the six oval races with the 750 horsepower rules package being used this weekend.  Bristol has been a good track for him. On the current Bristol track configuration he won the inaugural race in 2012, and over the last six at “Thunder Valley” he has 3 third place finishes, 4 top tens and has finished in the top fourteen every race. Over those combined events he has an 8.2 average finish and a 10.3 average running position. Earlier this year, Hamlin finished 5th. Last summer, Hamlin finished 14th.  He was involved in a big multi-car accident and got damage to his car which doomed his evening. In spring 2018, Hamlin had a good car, but finished 14th due to pit road mishaps.  In the five Bristol races prior to that he had results of 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 10th and 20th.  Hamlin has been in my sights all week.  I hate that he qualified on the pole (he got to qualify 3rd from last in perfect conditions) which is far from ideal for us, but he’s been too good lately, and could make up for the positional disadvantage with dominator points.  I’d be careful not to have too many shares, but a few would be good.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stenhouse is among the best mid-tier options in the sport at Bristol.  His last two Bristol results aren’t great, but prior to that he’s run extremely well here. Over his 13 starts at “Thunder Valley” his average finish is 13th. This spring, he suffered damage on just lap 2, and finished 33rd.  Last summer, Stenhouse had a fast car, but had multiple problems which led to his 24th place finish.  In spring 2018, Stenhouse finished 4th despite his race not being incident free. He overcame getting spun on lap 61 and multiple pit road incidents.  In the three races prior to that he had results of 14th, 9th and 2nd.  Bristol is one of his better tracks on the circuit, and he’s looked fast in practice this week.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney has run extremely well here and over the last three races he’s led 100+ laps each race, and has been a serious threat to win. Earlier this year, when the checkers waved, he finished 4th, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position, and led a race high 158 laps. Last summer, Blaney finished 7th, and led 121 laps.  In spring 2018, Blaney finished a misleading 35th.  He wrecked while leading on lap 117.  He had led an amazing 100 laps already at that point of the race.  In summer 2017 he finished 10th.  Blaney sits in a sweet spot this week, close enough to the front to get dominator points, yet far enough back to gain some positional points as well.

Joey Logano

Logano is one of the best drivers in all of Nascar at the “night race” here at Bristol.  Over the last six night races he has two-wins and a 5.7 average finish.  Over the last eight races he has 7 top tens, the best driver rating, and a 6.9 average finish.  Earlier this year at Bristol, Logano earned the best driver rating, finished 3rd, and led 146 laps.  Last summer, Logano finished 4th, and led 95 laps.  In spring 2018, Logano finished 9th. He ran better than that most of the day though, but got into the wall around lap 200 which hampered his efforts the rest of the day.  Logano has been at the top of the speed charts all week.  Like Blaney above, he starts close enough to the front to be a dominator, yet far enough back to gain a few positional points too. 

Paul Menard

Menard is a solid mid-tier option at Bristol. Since 2017 minus one misleading result last summer he has a 12.8 average finish and a 15.5 average running position. Earlier this year, when the checkered flag waved he finished 6th.  Last summer, Menard had a tough race and finished a misleading 36th. While he was running in 10th on lap 21 he got into the wall. A few laps later he careened into the wall hard which broke his suspension and marked the end of his race. In spring 2018 he had a solid showing and finished 13th.  In 2017, Menard had a pair of 16th place results. Paul Menard’s two top 10s this season have come on short tracks.  Menard had to qualify early on a hot, slick track and will start 25th.  Lets take advantage of what should be double digit positional points combined with an ultra low $6200 salary.

Other drivers I like are Buescher, Bowyer, Jones, DiBenedetto, Suarez, and Larson.

Salary-savers (sub-7k) this week are DiBenedetto, Stenhouse, Menard, Byron, and Ty Dillon.

Dominator potentials this week are Hamlin, Larson, Logano, and Blaney.

Movers this week are Kyle Busch, Johnson, Bowyer, Menard, and Logano.

Fades for me this week are Truex and Almirola.

My pick to win the race this week is Logano.  My heart tells me Hamlin from the pole, but Logano has been good here on race day.  Really good.