This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500.
Thunder Valley is one of the best places for NASCAR fans to watch a race. The racetrack is a half-mile, high-banked oval. Drivers must be willing to push other drivers out of the way to make it to the front.
Track position will be important this week, because passing is difficult at Bristol.
Bristol Motor Speedway has pit stalls on both the front and backstretch. Try to select drivers who pit on the front, because they will have an advantage over those pitting on the backstretch.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live game should be to select drivers who will start up front in the race. Since there are 500 laps in the race and each team receives one point for every two laps led, a driver who leads many laps would score a lot of points for your team.
Last week, Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing players were able to see stats from two testing sessions at Las Vegas before their teams had to be selected. That will not be the case this week.
Teams must select their Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing teams early on Friday morning. The first practice and qualifying will begin after your team has been selected.
There are many drivers who dominate the short track at Bristol. It will be important to get these drivers on your team this week.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game.
The strategy for many fantasy teams for the first three weeks of the season has been to start Jimmie Johnson. If you used that strategy, your team was able to get one win, one second-place finish and a sixth-place finish. Not bad!
This week I suggest taking a break from Johnson and going with another driver. While Johnson has some of the best stats in the series at Bristol, other drivers in Group A have been on a hot streak at the racetrack as well.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A, and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career stats at Bristol.
Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 last year, and he could do it again. Keselowski has become one of the most consistent drivers in the series. He always seems to find his way to the front at the end of the race.
Keselowski has two wins, two top-five finishes and two top-10 finishes at Bristol. His driver rating of 97.4 is fourth-best, and he has the sixth-best average running position of 10.7.
Keselowski may not start up front, but he will be there at the end.
Matt Kenseth will have momentum in the race at Bristol after winning last week at Las Vegas. He finished second in the Food City 500 last season.
In his career, Kenseth has two wins, 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10 finishes and one pole at Bristol. Kenseth has a series-high 451 quality passes, the second-most laps run in the top 15, second-best average running position of 10.7 and the third-best driver rating of 99.8.
Kenseth will finish in the top five this week.
Other good choices: Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.
Group B is loaded with drivers who have had a lot of success at Bristol. There are eight drivers worth considering for your team this week; unfortunately, fantasy NASCAR players can only select four.
Kurt Busch used to be one of the best drivers at Bristol. He fell off last year, finishing both races outside the top 15. He should return to the top 10 this week in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy.
Greg Biffle is another driver who has had success at Bristol. He won the pole for this race last season. The best time to use Biffle is when he gets on one of his hot streaks. After the poor performance at Las Vegas, I suggest waiting for Biffle to heat up before using him.
Joey Logano had two good races at Bristol in 2012, and he should be even better this year. Logano now drives for Penske Racing. The organization calls Bristol their best racetrack. Logano should learn a lot from his teammate, Brad Keselowski, the defending race winner.
My sleeper pick this week is Paul Menard. He is off to a good start to the 2013 season and finished both races at Bristol last season in the top 10.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B, and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon their career stats at Bristol.
Brian Vickers will fill in for Mark Martin in the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers replaced Martin last season at Bristol and finished both races in the top five. He must be on every team this week.
Vickers has not always been very good at Bristol, but the way he ran the two races in the No. 55 car last season at Bristol, he is too good to pass up. In the last two races at Bristol, Vickers had a series-high 81 points scored, led 126 laps and had an average finishing position of 4.5.
Vickers will run well this week in the Food City 500.
Bristol is one of Kyle Busch’s best racetracks. In 2010 he became the first driver to sweep the races in NASCAR’s top three series (Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series) in one weekend.
Busch’s stats at Bristol are outstanding. He has five wins, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes. Busch has a series-best driver rating of 102.7, series-high 556 fastest laps run and a series-best average green flag speed of 114.99.
Busch seems to be over his engine problems, so it is now safe to start him this week.
Carl Edwards got the nickname “Concrete Carl” because of his success at the concrete racetracks. Bristol is one of them. He had two poor performances at Bristol last year, but he should bounce back on Sunday.
Edwards has two wins, four top-five finishes, seven top-10 finishes and two poles at Bristol. He has the 10th-best driver rating of 88.2 and ran 65 percent of his laps in the top 15.
Edwards' 2012 slump seems to be over. He will be good for another top 10 finish this week.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. always starts the season better than he finishes it. Do not be one of the people who waits until his hot streak is over before you jump on the bandwagon.
Earnhardt has been good, but not great at Bristol in his career. He has one win, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes. Earnhardt has the 11th-best driver rating of 87.9 and a series-high 879 green flag passes.
Earnhardt’s Crew Chief, Steve Letarte, has been good at fixing the No. 88 car throughout the races. He will have Earnhardt up front at the end of the race Sunday.
Other good choices: Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Paul Menard.
While Group B is loaded with talent, fantasy NASCAR players will have a hard time finding good drivers in Group C this week.
The drivers in Group C either do not have much experience at Bristol in the Sprint Cup Series, or they have not had much success at the racetrack. There are only two drivers worth selecting in Group C this week for your team.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
A.J. Allmendinger will be back in the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing this week. He drove the car to an 11th place finish at Phoenix two weeks ago. If he qualifies well and looks good in practice, it would be smart to get another start out of Allmendinger this week.
In this race last year, Allmendinger started second, led 55 laps and finished No. 17. Allmendinger should be good for a top-20 finish this week.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has his rookie season off to a good start. Currently Stenhouse is No. 11 in the point standings.
Stenhouse has never raced in the Sprint Cup Series at Bristol, but he proved this season he is a quick learner.
In six starts in the Nationwide Series, Stenhouse has one top-five finish, two top-10 finishes and one pole.
If Allmendinger does not look good in practice, Stenhouse would be a good driver to have as a backup plan.
Other good choices: None.
2012 Food City 500 Pole Sitter: Greg Biffle 125.215 MPH
2012 Food City 500 Winner: Brad Keselowski, Started No. 5
Most Wins at Bristol - Active Drivers: Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch, 5
Most Poles at Bristol - Active Drivers: Mark Martin, 9
Most Top 10s at Bristol - Active Drivers: Mark Martin, 23
Most Top 5s at Bristol - Active Drivers: Mark Martin, 5
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Elliott Sadler, 2001, started No. 38
Races Won from the Pole: 22 of 104
Races Won from Top Five: 59 of 104
Races Won from Top 10: 83 of 104
Victories by manufacturer: Chevrolet (42), Ford (33), Dodge (8), Toyota (5), others (17)
Victories by (active) owner: Roger Penske (6), Rick Hendrick (5), Richard Childress (4), Jack Roush (3), Joe Gibbs (2), Wood Bothers (1)
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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