It’s Bristol Baby!
That’s right, 500 laps are in store for tonight’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bristol is a half-mile, steeply banked concrete oval that’s known for its action and drama. Four playoff drivers will not advance to the next round after this race, so this is definitely one to watch.
From a DFS perspective, handicapping Bristol is all about understanding variance. Incidents will happen. And if last year is any indication, parts failures may happen quite frequently as well.
That means for DFS, we’ll especially focus on being different from the field in a smart way.
Before we jump into my picks, don’t forget all my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running 10,000 race simulations.
Here are my NASCAR DFS picks for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bristol DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Kyle Larson ($11,500): The question coming into the weekend with Larson at such a high price point was whether you were going to play him in cash games or not based on his practice and where he starts.
Well, by starting dead last, he’s an absolute lock in cash games. He’s one of the best there is at Bristol, and he has the most place differential potential of anyone.
Don’t overthink it in cash games.
In tournaments, I don’t mind getting different, as I fully expect my model is underselling his projected usage. If you want to go underweight on Larson, Bristol is as good a place as any based off its incident rate.
Christopher Bell ($10,800): Bell is above Hamlin in my model this week, and the teammates start 1-2, so I’ll give the nod to Bell, who is also a bit cheaper than Hamlin.
Tyler Reddick ($8300): Tyler Reddick ran 61 laps in practice, by far the most of any driver. What does that mean, you ask?
Well, typically if a driver wasn’t happy with the car, they’d come in and make adjustments because why would you keep practicing with a junk car in such a short practice session?
Reddick is great at steeply-banked tracks and should be in contention for the win today at a relatively cheap price tag of $8300.
That’s cash game material.
Ty Dillon ($4900): By using all these expensive options, we’re going to have to jam in a punt play into cash game lineups. This seems like the perfect spot.
Dillon was 22nd in single-lap speed in practice, 19th in five-lap average, and 26th in 10-lap average.
That’s good enough for a driver starting 33rd at his bargain bin price tag, especially if he avoids the likely attrition. There’s a real path to a top-20 finish for Dillon.
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Bristol DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
As a reminder, I’m looking to get different with these picks. Popular plays this week, like Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Erik Jones, etc., are all fine to use in tournaments, but I think all will be near or above their projected optimal. These picks are solely focused on finding drivers I think will be too under-rostered.
Brad Keselowski ($9800): Kez was quite bad in practice which may keep his usage down.
However, it appears they hit on something for qualifying, and with the changing track conditions ever-present at Bristol, plus the potential for rain moving the race, there’s no telling whether practice times may be as representative of race speed as normal.
Keselowski had a shot to win this very race last year before a tire went down.
My model likes his chances to end up in the optimal lineup more than it projects his usage, so that makes for a great tournament play.
Alex Bowman ($7600): Alex Bowman is good at Bristol.
It may not appear that way on the surface, with his last three finishes being a 32nd-place DNF, a fifth, and a 16th.
However, as Ryan from ifantasyrace points out, Bowman had a top-five car last year. Obviously, he was fifth the year before, and in 2020 he had another top-five car prior to issues.
I’ll gladly take a lightly rostered, potential top-five car at $7600.
Justin Haley ($5900): Haley is a pivot off his teammate A.J. Allmendinger who starts three places farther back. Allmendinger also had a better five-lap average time in practice, but it was by just 0.024 seconds per lap.
What I really am getting at is people will look at the discrepancy in their 10-lap times. However, Haley’s initial run was less than 10 laps. He came in for adjustments (twice), then finally made his 10-lap run on worn tires.
I wouldn’t put any stock into that.
He qualified ahead of his teammate and was close enough in short-run speed that if this race turns into a mess, Haley could be in a solid position on a late short run to the checkered flag.
Don’t go crazy, but I have him projected around 5% usage. I’d at least double that in a multi-entry portfolio.