NASCAR Picks for Bristol
Length: 0.533 miles
Location: Bristol, Tennessee
With just three races remaining before the Chase begins, the Cup Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. The half-mile bullring used to be one of the tougher tracks on the schedule because of all the bumping, banging and physical racing it took to get the front and stay there. These days, the short track is still tough, but for a different reason. Bristol has undergone two separate layout changes in recent years, and the preferred line has gone from the bottom of the surface to the top to somewhere in between. Needless to say the frequent changes have kept the teams guessing as far as setups are concerned, and while this weekend's night race at the track remains one of the more popular, it has certainly taken on a different feel.
From a fantasy standpoint, the changes made to Bristol are a double-edged sword. On one hand, moving the racing groove up the track a bit has made side-by-side racing possible and eliminated many of the wrecks that used to doom a fantasy lineup. On the flip side, the changes continue to shift the balance of power, and some of the drivers that were great on the original track configuration have struggled with the new layout and vice versa. In the long run, a calmer Bristol is a plus for fantasy owners, but in the meantime, owners should expect a few disappointments and surprises as drivers get a feel for the current track with the new Gen-6 car.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Busch has made Bristol his personal playground in recent years. His 9.8 average finish at the track is the second best among active drivers, and his five wins at Bristol since 2007 are the most in the series. Busch finished sixth at the track last August and ran second earlier this year, and he can carry a fantasy team in any format this weekend.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
The defending series champ has become a fantasy stud at Bristol the past couple of years. In the last four races at the track, he has finished third or better three times. More importantly, Keselowski has a pair of wins during the stretch, including a victory in the night race in 2011.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He was battling for the lead at Bristol in the spring when he was caught up in a wreck triggered by Jeff Gordon. If not for the bad luck, Kenseth would have likely added to his impressive numbers at the bullring. He is a two-time winner at Bristol for his career, and he has six top-10s in his last eight starts at the track.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Since joining Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012, Bowyer has been next to unstoppable at short tracks. He has finished in the top 10 in all nine short track starts with MWR, including three finishes of seventh or better at Bristol. Bowyer has also reeled off five straight top-five finishes at short tracks overall, including back-to-back runner-up efforts.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
After notching his first-ever win at Bristol earlier this year, Kahne will try for the sweep at the short track this weekend. While the victory in the spring was his first at the track, it was just the latest in a string of solid runs. Kahne has finished 11th or better in five of his last six starts at Bristol, and he seems to be getting better.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Bristol actually gave Johnson some trouble early in his career, but he has been stout at the track lately. In his last nine starts at the track, he has piled up seven top-10 finishes. During the stretch, Johnson has one victory and has finished fourth or better five times, including a second-place run last summer.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
There was a time when Busch was flat out dominant at Bristol, and he has been to victory lane at the track five times. Even though his last win came in 2006, he hasn't slowed down much. In his last 12 starts at Bristol, Busch has cracked the top 15 nine times. More importantly, he looked like his old dominant self at the track earlier this year when he finished fourth in his first Bristol start for Furniture Row Racing.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The part-time fantasy star is back behind the wheel of the No. 55 this weekend, and in his last three starts at Bristol with MWR, he has three finishes of eighth or better. Vickers actually finished fourth at the track last summer, and he was a major contender for the win. A repeat performance is a real possibility, and fantasy owners should definitely take advantage.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Although his last top-five finish at Bristol came in 2008, Junior has been one of the most consistent performers at the track. In fact, his 9.3 average finish in the last 20 races at Bristol is the best in the series; and he has finished inside the top 20 in every race during the stretch. He might not win this weekend, but fantasy owners won't find a safer option.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Truex has definitely figured something out at Bristol. After posting mediocre numbers at the track throughout his career, he has reeled off four straight top-12 finishes. During the stretch, he has two top-three finishes, so Truex offers plenty of upside this weekend.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He was leading at Bristol in March when a cut tire sent him slamming into the wall, and he has actually had a few strong cars at the track the past two years. Gordon has two third-place finishes in his last four starts at Bristol, and he led the most laps in the August race in 2011. His luck hasn't been great for much of the season, but a top-five run isn't out of the question this weekend.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
While he has never been as dominant at Bristol since the layout was changed, Harvick has remained a dependable option at the track. He has six top-15s in his last seven starts at Bristol, including three straight. Harvick probably isn't the best option in Yahoo! leagues, but he can certainly be counted on for a solid run.