The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes a return trip to Bristol for the Irwin Tools 500.
There will be a lot of beating and banging as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races under the lights at Bristol. Drivers often start the race in good spirits, ready to tame the high-banked, half-mile race track. By the end of the races, fists should be flying as drivers argue who is at fault for honking the “chrome bumper” in Thunder Valley.
It seems like a long time since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series last raced at Bristol. A lot has changed since the fourth race of the season, but the drivers who dominated the March race at Bristol have a good chance to finish up front Saturday night.
Track position will be important this week, because passing is difficult at Bristol. Six of the drivers in the March race who finished in the top 10 also qualified inside the top 10. Be sure to use the drivers who start up front in all leagues this week.
Here is my top 25 and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career statistics at the Bristol…
Racing for the Win
1. Brad Keselowski is starting to heat up, and fantasy NASCAR players need to take notice. He finished three of the last four races in the top six, and Keselowski has two wins at Bristol. In the March race at Bristol, Keselowski started seventh and finished third. He has a great chance to win this week.
2. Kyle Busch is one of the best drivers in the bullring. He has five wins, eight top-10 finishes, 12 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 17 career races at the race track. In the March race, he started on the pole and finished second. He will be up front at the end of Saturday night’s race as well.
3. Jimmie Johnson has a series-best 109.1 driver’s rating in the past four races at Bristol. In this race last season, Johnson started No. 37 and drove his way to a second-place finish. Never count out Johnson at Bristol.
4. Kasey Kahne had a lot of speed in the March race at Bristol. He started on the front row and led 109 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Kahne will bring another fast car to the race track this week and has a good chance to win another race before the Chase begins.
5. Kurt Busch is not only trying to win a race to secure his spot in the Chase, he is also auditioning for owners with open seats for the 2014 season. He will have a good opportunity to finish up front Saturday night. He has five wins at Bristol and finished the March race in fourth place.
6. Clint Bowyer has a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes at Bristol. In March he started No. 23 and finished fifth. Bowyer knows his way around the half-mile race track. He will just miss out on a top-five finish this week.
7. Matt Kenseth has had back-to-back poor finishes at Bristol. The two-time Bristol winner finished the March race No. 12 and the night race last season No. 39. He will bounce back this week and nearly score a top-five finish.
8. Kevin Harvick needs to keep finishing up front, securing points for the Chase. Harvick may play it safe this week and try to ensure he finishes up front, instead of taking a chance to score a victory. He will finish inside the top 10 Saturday night.
9. Brian Vickers has been great at Bristol while driving the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing. He has three starts and three consecutive top-10 finishes at Bristol. He will make it four-for-four Saturday night.
10. Joey Logano is my sleeper pick this week. He always finishes better in the August race than he does in the March race, and he has momentum coming off his win last week. He started 10th and finished No. 17 in the last race. Logano will be much better Saturday night.
11. Martin Truex Jr. has the second-best driver rating of 100.1 in the past four races at Bristol. Truex always runs near the top 10 at the race track. He will qualify up front and finish just outside the top 10 Saturday night.
12. Paul Menard is not the first name that comes up when people think of the race at Bristol. Menard has finished four of the last five races at the race track in the top 10. He will come close again this week.
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not the best racer at Bristol, but he is not bad either. He has one win, seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in his 27 career starts at Bristol. He will add another top-15 finish to his Bristol resume this week.
14. Carl Edwards used to be known as “Concrete Carl.” He is not the same driver he once was at Bristol. Edwards has three consecutive races at Bristol finishing outside the top 15. His streak will end Saturday night.
15. Greg Biffle has an average starting position of 13.4 and an average finishing position of 12.1 at Bristol. He will qualify and finish the race near his average this week.
16. Jamie McMurray has been pretty good at Bristol in his career. His average starting position is 16.4 and his average finishing position is 16.8. The odds are good that he will finish near the No. 16 spot this week.
17. Ryan Newman is desperately trying to get one of the Stewart-Haas Racing cars into the Chase. He will need a great finish Saturday night in order to do so. Do not expect much more than a top-20 finish from Newman this week.
18. Mark Martin is filling in for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car. Martin had a chance to win last week but came up a few laps short on gas. He makes for an interesting selection this week.
19. Denny Hamlin would be a pick to win in any other season. Hamlin has had a horrible season this year, and his troubles will continue at Bristol. Hamlin will qualify up front and finish outside the top 15 this week.
20. Jeff Gordon is having a rough season this year. It is hard to recommend him in any format this week.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took his rookie bumps at Bristol in March. He started No. 28 and finished No. 16. He will have the same kind of race this week. Stenhouse will come close to scoring a top-20 finish Saturday night.
22. Juan Pablo Montoya does not have much to race for. He has been released from his contract at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing at the end of the season and will not make the Chase this season. Do not expect much more than a top-25 finish from Montoya Saturday night.
23. Marcos Ambrose is great on the road courses. Bristol is not a road course. Avoid Ambrose this week.
24. Aric Almirola has an average starting position of 18.9 and an average finishing position of 27.8 at Bristol. He will finish just inside the top 25 Saturday night.
25. Jeff Burton finished his last two races at Bristol No. 32 and No. 33. It will not be that bad this week for Burton, but it will be close.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne
Group B: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers
Group C: Casey Mears, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Fantasy Live Picks
Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers, Michael McDowell
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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