Fantasy NASCAR at Bristol 2014: Picks, Top Drivers for Irwin Tools Night Race
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Bristol, Tennessee, this week for the Irwin Tools Night Race.
The night race at Bristol should be on every NASCAR fan’s bucket list. The electricity of the fans and the roar of the cars is something that words cannot describe. The high-banked half-mile track has given fans some of the best finishes in NASCAR history. The race Saturday night will be an exciting sprint to the finish line.
Rain was the story in March at Bristol. The event was delayed for two hours before the cars took the green flag.
Denny Hamlin won the pole for that race and ran near the front before finishing sixth. Team Penske led the first half of the race, as Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano led 53 of the first 54 laps. Joe Gibbs Racing took over in the middle, with Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth leading 238 of the 503 laps. Roush Fenway Racing led the lap that mattered the most, though, with Carl Edwards taking the checkered flag. His teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished second.
Although Bristol is a fun race to watch, the track has not been kind to fantasy NASCAR teams. There is little room to hide, so when there is a wreck, multiple cars are typically involved. Track position will be very important this week. Teams that pit on the frontstretch will have an advantage over the teams pitting on the back. Make sure you start the drivers who qualify up front in this race.
Here are my picks for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing is stacked with talented drivers with a history of finishing well at Bristol. That does not mean the winner of the race will come from this group, though. Only two drivers from Group A finished in the top 10 in March: Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
Gordon and Jimmie Johnson will be popular picks this week. The drivers have a combined six wins and finished 37 races in the top 10. Gordon makes for a much better pick than Johnson this week. The No. 48 team seems to be testing for the Chase, while the No. 24 team is one of the hottest teams in the sport.
The drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing have the best history at Bristol. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have won nine races at Bristol. Hamlin won the pole and Kenseth led the most laps in the March race at the race track. Any of the drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing would be a good selection for your team.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A, with the number of allocations I have left with each driver in parentheses.
Matt Kenseth (8)
Kenseth is still looking for his first win of the season, and he has a great chance to get it Saturday night. He qualified third and finished 13th in the last race at Bristol, but his finishing position does not tell the story of how well he ran, as Kenseth led the most laps and was inside the top 10 for most of the race. He has a series-best driver rating in the last five races at Bristol and is a great pick for your team this week.
Jeff Gordon (3)
I had a hard time choosing between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon for my final pick in Group A. Earnhardt ran well in the last race. He had the second-best driver rating but finished 24th. Gordon did not lead any laps in that race, but he did qualify in the top 10 and he finished seventh.
The No. 24 team is a better team now than it was in March. Gordon has a great chance to go to Victory Lane for the sixth time at Bristol.
Other good choices: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch
Yahoo Group B Picks
The two best selections from Group B will be the two drivers that most fantasy teams have the fewest starts with. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano looked great in the spring race at Bristol, and both drivers should be good again this week. If you have any allocations left with the Team Penske drivers, you should have them on your team this week.
There are many options to pair with the Team Penske duo. Roush Fenway Racing is having a poor season, but the March race was organization's best race of the season. Edwards won the race and Stenhouse Jr. finished second. Greg Biffle finished 12th, but Bristol is one of his better tracks. Any driver from this team would be a good pick Saturday night.
Here are the drivers I selected for Group B.
Brad Keselowski (2)
Keselowski is my pick to win Saturday night. In March, he started second, led 40 laps and finished 14th. He had a series-best driver rating and a series-best average running position in the race. Keselowski is almost a lock to qualify up front. Track position is very important, and Keselowski will both qualify up front and finish up front this week.
Brian Vickers (6)
Vickers is a good pick this week, as Bristol is by far his best race track. In March, Vickers qualified poorly and started the race 38th. He drove through the field and finished in the top 10. It was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at Bristol. He could be a driver who sneaks into Victory Lane Saturday night and steals a spot in the Chase.
Jamie McMurray (9)
I had a hard time with the last choice for Group B. The decision was between Edwards (the winner of the March race) and McMurray. Edwards is a lame-duck driver, and he is driving like it as well. For that reason I chose, McMurray for the last spot. McMurray has good stats in the night race at Bristol, and he needs a win before the Chase begins.
Denny Hamlin (3)
I would love to save a start with Hamlin this week, so hopefully he is on the team for qualifying points only. Hamlin has won the pole for the last two races at Bristol. He will have a good chance to qualify up front Saturday night and should finish inside the top 10.
Other good choices: Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yahoo Group C Picks
The drivers in Group C have a good chance of finishing near the top 10 this week. Bristol races like a Superspeedway in that there is nowhere to hide when cars get turned sideways. Often, one wreck will take out half the filed. This allows the drivers running in the back of the pack to move to the front. This may be a good week to take a chance with a driver you have not used this year.
If Tony Stewart sits out this race, the driver filling in for him will most likely be worth a roster spot. Jeff Burton is the most likely selection to fill in for Stewart this week. He has good stats at Bristol, and if the No. 14 team can overcome mechanical issues, he should have no problem finishing in the top 20.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Kyle Larson (2)
If you have been saving one of your last allocations with Larson for one of his better race tracks...this is the week to use your last start. Larson is not only the best driver in Group C at Bristol, but he will also be one of the best drivers in the field Saturday night. He loves to drive his car along the top of the race track and dive down to pass other cars. Few drivers know this trick, and it makes Larson a great choice for your team.
Justin Allgaier (8)
Justin Allgaier is a sneaky-good pick this week. He has a win at Bristol in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and he was good in the March race in the Sprint Cup Series. In the spring race, Allgaier started 30th and finished 17th. He should be better in his second race in the series at Bristol.
Other Good Choices: Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Michael Annett
Fantasy Live Picks
Fantasy Live Picks: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan and Landon Cassill
The strategy this week for Fantasy Live is to pick drivers who will lead many laps. Since there are 500 laps in the race, the 250 available bonus points for leading laps could move your team quickly up your league standings.
Keselowski should qualify up front and lead the early laps in the race. Earnhardt is good at improving his car and getting the lead. And Kenseth could lead the final laps of the race. Meanwhile, David Ragan and Landon Cassill are good picks for their price.
Fox Fantasy Racing
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for the race at Bristol:
Captain: Matt Kenseth
Driver 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Driver 3: Brian Vickers
Driver 4: Kyle Busch
Driver 5: Kyle Larson
The strategy for Fox Fantasy Racing is still to select drivers who will improve upon their starting position. The game rewards only one point for leading laps. Kenseth and Junior have a history of running well at Bristol. They usually race much better than they qualify.
Vickers improved 29 spots from his qualifying position in the March race at Bristol. He would be a great selection for your team no matter where he qualifies.
Busch and Larson are two of the best drivers at Bristol. They have a good chance to finish in the top five Saturday night.