Fantasy NASCAR Picks for Food City 500 in Bristol

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2012

Fantasy NASCAR Picks for Food City 500 in Bristol

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    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Thunder Valley this week for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

    So far, so good this season for my fantasy NASCAR picks. Last week I started Jimmy Johnson, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, and Trevor Bayne in the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game. The lineup was good enough for 328-points (898 total points for the season) and put me in the top 99 percent of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing players.

    For the NASCAR Fantasy Live game, I started Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Aric Almirola ($99.75 budget). The lineup scored me 277-points and 769 total points for the season. Currently I am ranked 279 overall in the nascar.com Fantasy Live standings.

    Bristol is a high-banked, half-mile track that can cause a lot of wrecks. This week for your fantasy NASCAR team you want to select drivers who know how to get around the track and avoid trouble. Bristol is one of the few tracks where the driver is more responsible for his outcome in the race than the setup of his car. There are a handful of drivers who excel at Bristol, and I will pick those drivers out for you so you can excel in your fantasy NASCAR league.

    Here are my picks for the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game and NASCAR Fantasy Live played on nascar.com…..

Yahoo Group A Drivers

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    There is one driver in Group A that is the obvious choice this week. Kyle Busch has dominated the races at Bristol over the past three years. Busch has won four of the last six races at Bristol and is a must-have on your team this week.

    There are three other drivers to consider for your Group A selection: Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. Each of these drivers has had success in the last two years.

    During the last four races at Bristol, Edwards has an average finish of 7.25, led 18 laps, had two top-10 finishes and finished second in this race last year.

    Edward’s teammate at Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth, has also had success over the last four races at Bristol. Kenseth has an average finish of 6.25, and led 110 laps. During the last two years at Bristol, Kenseth has finished No. 5 (spring 2010), No. 5 (fall 2010), No. 4 (spring 2011), and No. 6 (fall 2010). His patience usually pays off at Bristol.

    Like last week, Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing lineups must be selected by Friday morning. This means fantasy players will have to select their team before any practice or qualifying takes place. Do not worry, I am here to help.

    I am providing my selections for the race in this column. Visit my Fantasy NASCAR Tips page on facebook Saturday night to see which drivers I am starting for the race. You can also see 11 other experts’ picks for the race.

    Here are my selections for the Yahoo Group A:

    Kyle Busch

    When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes to Bristol there is one driver that fantasy players must automatically place on their team. That driver is Kyle Busch. For some reason, Busch is just miles ahead of the competition at Bristol.

    During the last four races at Bristol, Busch has an average finish of No. 6, led 440 laps, has one pole and two wins. Since NASCAR went to the COT, Busch has won half of the races. He is not guaranteed to win the race, but he is the safest pick available.

    Jimmie Johnson

    There will probably some people who will not select Johnson this week due to the penalties the team may be facing for violations at Daytona. I am not one of those people.

    The No. 48 team appealed the suspension of Crew Chief Chad Knaus and the lost of points to the team. NASCAR upheld the suspension, but Hendrick Motorsports appealed it again. This means Knaus will be at the track this week fulfilling his crew chief duties.

    One thing I noticed about the No. 48 team…The team performs at their best when their back is against the wall. Johnson has had success at Bristol and he will again this weekend.

    During the last four races at Bristol, Johnson has an average finish of 8.1, led 478 laps, had one pole and won one race. If any driver were to knock Busch off of his reign as Bristol King, it is Johnson.

    Other good picks: Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski

Yahoo Group B Drivers

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    Unlike the Group A drivers, the list of Group B drivers is not as dominant at Bristol. Some drivers have had success but none have won a race at Bristol in the last seven races at the track.

    For my selections this week I decided to look at the last two years of racing at Bristol and see who stands out. I found six drivers worthy of selection, but I can only use four drivers for my team.

    I selected Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., and Kurt Busch. I left Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray off the list.

    Kahne has been good at Bristol but he has been plagued by bad luck this year. He came into the season with high expectations, and I think he is trying too hard. Kahne has an average finish of 8.3 over the last three races at Bristol. He could be good this week, but I am going to wait until he has a good race from start to finish before I pick him for my team.

    McMurray may be the most underrated driver at Bristol. Over the last four races, McMurray has an average finish of 9.25 with 13 laps led. I might have gambled on McMurray, but he posted a message on Twitter Monday night that he has strep throat and feels terrible. Bristol is one of the hardest tracks physically on a driver. I want my fantasy NASCAR drivers to be 100 percent going into the race.

    Here are my selections for Yahoo Group B:

    Greg Biffle

    Greg Biffle has been the surprise of the 2012 season. Biffle is No. 1 in the point standings after finishing each of the first three races in the No. 3 position.

    I owe some of my success this year to Biffle. I have had him on my team for two of the three races. That means I only have seven starts left with Biffle for the season. Some fantasy players might think it would be a good idea to use other drivers and avoid using up all of your starts with Biffle. I think that is a bad idea.

    I have seen Biffle go through slumps in his career. He is on fire right now so I say play the hot hand!

    Biffle had one poor showing at Bristol in the last five races at the track. Last fall, Biffle finished the race in the No. 31 position. The other four races he had two top-five finishes and two top-10 finishes. He should easily finish in the top 10 this week.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Earnhardt has looked surprisingly strong in 2012. His car looked like the car to beat in the Las Vegas race. A poor decision by his crew chief cost him valuable track position, but he was still able to achieve a top-10 finish.

    Earnhardt has been good at Bristol. His career average finish is 11.7 and he has one win at the track. I think Earnhardt will qualify up front and lead some laps on Sunday.

    Martin Truex Jr.

    I had a hard time deciding if I should take Kahne with this selection or go with Martin Truex. I decided to go with Truex because he has been the hotter driver in 2012 (Truex is No. 8 in the point standings and Kahne is No. 26).

    During the last four races at Bristol, Truex has an average finish of No. 12 with 68 laps led. I will watch him in practice on Friday and Saturday. If he looks strong I may select him as one of my starters (check out my Fantasy NASCAR Tips page on Saturday night to see who I am starting on my team).

    Kurt Busch

    Bristol may be Kurt Busch’s best track. He does not look like he will be very competitive while driving for Phoenix Racing. I am going to use very few starts with Busch this year. Bristol may be one of them.

    Busch has four wins at Bristol. His last win came in 2006. Over the past four races at the track Busch has an average finish of No. 9 and has led 278 laps.

    Since this track is so dependable on the skills of the driver and not the car, I think this will be one of the races Busch has success at this year.

    Other good picks: Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Marcos Ambrose

Yahoo Group C Drivers

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    I can see that Group C in the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game is going to be an adventure this year.  Last year fantasy players were spoiled with Paul Menard and Regan Smith. The two drivers were good enough to finish in the top 15 each week.

    This year the drivers in Group C are hit or miss. You are going to need some help to figure out which drivers will be a hit each week and which will be a miss. Last week I was able to hit with Trevor Bayne. He finished No. 9 in the race, and now he won’t race again for a few weeks.

    I am not very high on any of the drivers in this group. None of them have had much success at Bristol. My selections for this week are based upon the rules for Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing. Since fantasy players can only use a driver nine times during the season, I will take substitute drivers when I can.

    Here are my selections for Group C:

    Brian Vickers

    Brian Vickers makes his return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend. After the offseason game of musical chairs stopped Vickers was left without a seat in a car.

    This week Vickers will be filling in for Mark Martin in the No. 55 Michael Watrip Racing Toyota. Vickers has not had much success at Bristol, but after sitting out the first three weeks of the season, I have to imagine that he is excited to get back into the car.

    Vickers has an average finish of 21.25 over his last four races at the track. I am looking for him to finish near the No. 20 spot in the race on Sunday.

    Aric Almirola

    Aric Almirola will be the best driver in Group C this year. I will be careful where I use him so I do not use up my nine starts with him too quickly. So far this year I have been able to find other drivers and have had success.

    If Vickers struggles in practice and qualifying, I may have to start Almirola. There are better tracks to use Almirola, but the other drivers in Group C do not look very appealing.

    Almirola has finished No. 8 and No. 13 at Bristol, but he has missed the last three races at the track. Having Almirola on your team as insurance to Vickers is not a bad idea, but if you wanted to go with a safer driver such as Bobby Lobante, I would be OK with that strategy as well.

    Other good picks: Bobby Lobante, David Reutimann, David Ragan

Fantasy Live Picks (nascar.com)

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    Last week’s team: Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola ($99.75 Budget) Total score: 769 points (ranked 279 overall)

    The key to having success at Bristol is to have the driver that leads the most laps on your team. Since Fantasy Live awards half a point for every lap led, having drivers who lead laps will be very important this week. Since there are 500 laps in the race, if a driver can lead 200 laps, the driver would receive 100 bonus points. My strategy this week is to pick drivers who will lead laps.

    Unlike the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game, Fantasy Live allows players to change their drivers up to the start of the race. I will give my selections for my team now, but I suggest looking at where each driver qualifies in the race before setting your team. My updated selections will be on my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on facebook Saturday evening.

    Here are my picks for NASCAR Fantasy Live:

    Kyle Busch $26    

    I am selling Tony Stewart for $26.75 and purchasing Kyle Busch for $26. There is a good chance that Busch could lead the most laps and finish near the top. In the last four races at Bristol, Busch has led 440 laps. If he can get out front on Sunday he will be hard to catch. Busch is a driver you must have on your team.

    Jimmie Johnson $25.00  

    I am selling Kevin Harvick for $26 and purchasing Jimmie Johnson for $25. Busch has been the most dominant driver at Bristol, but Johnson has not been far behind.

    During the past four races at Bristol, Johnson has an average finish of 8.1, with 478 laps led, one pole and one win. If you eliminate his No. 35 finish in the fall of 2010 (he started on the pole for the race), Johnson has an average finish of 2.5 over the last two years. He will be a great pick this week.

    Matt Kenseth $26.50

    Greg Biffle has be the best driver so far this year, but I have to sell him and purchase his teammate Matt Kenseth.

    Kenseth has been great at Bristol in his career. His average starting position is No.17 and his average finishing position is No. 12. Unlike Busch and Johnson, who I think will start up front, I think Kenseth will start in the middle of the pack and quickly make his way to the front.

    In his last four starts at Bristol, Kenseth has an average finishing position of No. 6, with 100 laps led. He will be money in the bank on Sunday.

    Jeff Burton $18.50  

    I am selling Joey Logano for $19 and purchasing Jeff Burton for $18.50.

    Burton has been good at Bristol in his career. In his 34 races at the track, Burton has 14 top-10 finishes, eight top-five finishes, one win and has led 322 laps. I do not think Burton will qualify up front but I do think he will finish in the top 10.

    Aric Almirola $4

    This is the fourth straight week that Aric Almirola will be on my team. The reason is not because he is so much better than the other drivers, but because of his price. I purchased Almirola for $3 and his price has already increased to $8. Having him on my team at such a cheap price allows me to purchase more expensive drivers who can finish up front in the races.

    Total budget: $100.00

    Good luck this week!

    If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @HuskerMagic.

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    Chad’s Fantasy NASCAR Picks