Food City 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, and Sunday's Food City 500 promises to be a challenge for fantasy owners for a variety of reasons.
Cramming 39 cars on to a half-mile track leads to plenty of bumping and banging, and short tracks like Bristol are naturally more chaotic and unpredictable. This weekend's race was dealt another curveball when qualifying was rained out Friday, setting the field by owner points.
In the Yahoo game, I'm playing it safe and avoiding the bigger names in each tier. As I already mentioned, short track racing can get a little rough at times, and I hate wasting any of the top fantasy options. Instead, I'll be leaning on some mid-level drivers in each tier who have shown success at Bristol or tend to provide steady results week in and week out.
The bad weather makes things a little more complicated in the NASCAR.com game. With the field set by points, a majority of the top options are all starting near the front, making it a little tougher to identify which drivers have the best chance of winning the dominator categories. It also limits the drivers who have a lot of upside through place differential since drivers are essentially starting about where they tend to finish.
At the end of the day, there are just so many points available in the dominator categories that they have to be your focus, even if it means punting a roster spot or two. In a season-long format like the NASCAR.com game, a 500-lap race becomes one of the most important of the season. A big score this week can yield the same amount of points as two or three great scores at larger tracks. On the flip side, a bad week can put you in a big hole that it will take weeks to dig out.
In the FOX game, it is important to remember that there are no bonus points available for place differential because the field was set by owner points. As a result, you simply need to try to build the most balanced lineup possible, focusing solely on finishing position. There is no reason to take a chance on sleepers this weekend.
Before you finalize your season-long fantasy NASCAR lineups for the Food City 500, check out a complete look at all my favorite driver picks and top lineup combinations.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Joey Logano (A)
Logano is one of the few drivers who has shown serious upside at Bristol while maintaining steady results. He has two wins in his last five starts here, and he is one of only two drivers with three straight Top 10s finishes at the track. His Top 5 starting spot adds to his appeal.
Jamie McMurray (B)
Consistency is tough to find at Bristol, and McMurray has been one of the most dependable drivers at the track. In fact, he is the only driver who has finished in the Top 15 in each of the last five races here. Starting in the Top 10 should only help his chances of delivering another solid finish.
Clint Bowyer (B)
Bowyer has been running in and around the Top 10 all year in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he has always been at his best at short tracks. He has eight Top 15s in his last ten starts at Bristol, and he has two Top 10s in his last three starts. Bowyer started and finished in the Top 10 a few weeks ago at Martinsville, and I expect him to do the same this weekend.
Ty Dillon (C)
Short track races tend to be a little more unpredictable, so I'm hesitant to risk using Erik Jones or Daniel Suarez when both have shown they have Top 10 upside on the bigger ovals. Instead, I'll opt for Dillon and his steady results. He has finished between 15th and 22nd in every race since Daytona, and he should land somewhere around the Top 20 again Sunday.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Kyle Larson ($28.00)
The dominator categories will be crucial in a 500-lap race, and relative to the laps he has run at Bristol, Larson ranks in the Top 10 in both percentage of laps led and fastest laps run here. He has also been the best driver in the series this year, and he is starting on the pole at a track he loves. I expect him to be out front early and often Sunday.
Kyle Busch ($27.00)
Among active drivers, nobody has had more dominant runs at Bristol than Busch. He is a five-time winner here, and he ranks first in both dominator categories. Busch has led more than 190 laps in two of his last three starts here. By starting seventh, he has a great chance to get to the front in a hurry and win the dominator categories.
Matt Kenseth ($24.75)
Thanks to rain canceling qualifying, Kenseth has a chance to be the total package this weekend. The four-time Bristol winner starts 22nd, so he could post a big point total simply be taking advantage of the place differential category. He also ranks in the Top 3 in both dominator categories at Bristol, and he led 142 laps in this race last year. Kenseth could score fantasy points in every possible category this weekend, so needless to say, his upside is tough to pass up.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($14.50)
Normally tough to rely on, Stenhouse has been remarkably consistent at Bristol. His 10.6 average finish at the track is the best among drivers with more than two starts, and he has finished sixth or better in four of his last six starts here. Stenhouse starts 19th Sunday, so he is able to bolster his final score with a decent amount of points in the place differential category.
Cole Whitt ($5.00)
To afford the rest of my lineup, I have to punt the final roster spot. I'm not expecting a lot out of Whitt, but since he starts back in 31st, he should at least be able to maintain and avoid losing points. He also had a decent run at Martinsville a few weeks back, so I'm hoping some of the short track magic carries over.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Kyle Busch ($11,400)
Busch's career numbers at Bristol are among the best in the series, and he starts in the Top 10 this weekend with a car that was fast in practice. I expect him to be one of the top contenders for the win this weekend.
Brad Keselowski ($11,200)
He has a couple of wins at Bristol in his career, and Keselowski has been as reliable as any driver in the series this season. He hasn't finished worse than sixth since the season opener and armed with a Top 5 starting spot, I expect him to deliver another strong result Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,900)
After a sloppy start to the year, Johnson broke out in a big way with a victory at Texas last time out. He has quietly been one of the more reliable options at Bristol, and while it might not be his best track, he does have four finishes of seventh or better in his last five starts here. The price tag is more than reasonable for a driver likely to provide a Top 10.
Matt Kenseth ($9,600)
Kenseth is a four-time winner at Bristol, and he appeared to be heading to another win here last spring before cutting a tire after leading 142 laps. His price tag has been driven down by some bad luck in the first few races, but that just means he is a potential bargain heading to one of his strongest tracks.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($6,600)
He finally has a little momentum on his side after a strong showing at Texas, and Junior could stay hot at Bristol. He has the best average finish at the track among active drivers, and he was the runner-up here last spring. With a safe floor and Top 5 upside, Junior is way underpriced this weekend.