The first round of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs concludes with the Bass Pro Shops Bristo Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, USA).
The playoff picture may be a big factor in DFS, and I think there’s an incredible angle for exploitation in large-field tournaments.
In addition, Bristol is such a unique track that track history is massively important in my model. It’s also important to note that track position has been massive all weekend between the Truck and Xfinity series.
That allows for strategy plays to come through which increases randomness.
Add in Bristol’s inherent randomness in general, and this is a really intriguing tournament slate.
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.
So let’s dive into my NASCAR DFS picks and strategy for tonight’s Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race.
Bristol DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Kyle Busch ($10,500): Rowdy and Bristol go hand in hand.
He has eight wins here. He’s absolutely dominated in laps led and fastest laps as one of the two best alongside Kyle Larson at Bristol.
And he starts 21st. That means ample place differential potential for one of the best to ever drive at this track.
Corey LaJoie ($5400): LaJoie was arguably the seventh fastest car in his practice group.
That’s important because practice moved from late afternoon into the early evening. As the track cooled, it got faster.
LaJoie then had to qualify among the earliest of all drivers as the track cooled even further. That meant he was disadvantaged, which undoubtedly contributed to his 31st-place starting spot.
Look for LaJoie to move forward at a track that has historically been well above average for him when he avoids issues.
Bristol DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Ryan Blaney ($8,900): For as fast as Larson and Busch are at Bristol, Blaney may arguably be third behind those two.
Blaney has a 6.8% fastest lap rate and a 17.2% lap-led rate at Bristol while with Team Penske.
He rolls off sixth which is in that awkward area where people will think he’s less likely to lead but not far enough back for place differential.
Ignore that. This is a 500-lap, extremely long race. He absolutely has the upside to lead, especially when we factor in he’ll be able to go for the win instead of race for points.
That sounds like it shouldn’t matter at Bristol, but track position has been huge.
If a caution comes out with 20-30 laps left in a stage, Blaney will absolutely pit as many of his competitors stay out to grab stage points.
That means after the stage ends, he’ll cycle to the front of the pack.
Christopher Bell ($10,200): If we want to talk playoff safety, Bell is the only driver locked into the next round.
That means he 100% will be on a track position strategy, aiming to win the race.
Bell is also really good at Bristol, dominating in the Xfinity series with a win and a second. He also had one of his best finishes in the Cup Series his rookie year here with the lesser Leavine Family Racing team.
VERY IMPORTANT: Blaney and Bell have some negative correlation thanks to their similar situation and secondary dominator status behind Hamlin and Larson.
It doesn’t mean you should play them separately, but when using the FantasyLabs Lineup Optimizer, it may make sense to use a correlation rule with the two where you bump one down about 10% if the other is used in the lineup.
Bristol DraftKings DFS Paul Menard Pick of the Week
This is an absolute doozy here, but I think Chase Briscoe ($7600) makes for an excellent contrarian play in monster field mass multi-entry tournaments or even medium-sized single-entry or 3-max tournaments.
I wouldn’t necessarily use him in high-dollar or smaller field tournaments where being different isn’t as important, but to win a big payday in a large contest I believe my theory makes sense. Hear me out.
Chase Briscoe starts second and is currently on the playoff bubble. His teammate and polesitter Aric Almirola is out. What better way for him to lead laps than for Stewart-Haas Racing to manufacture the start of the race.
I find it quite likely Almirola starts on the inside lane and lets Briscoe take the lead from the outside from the get-go.
Then Almirola plays wingman, defending for Briscoe at a hard-to-pass track.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Briscoe leads most, if not all of the first stage. We know he’s racing for points, so there’s no chance he pits before the end of Stage 1 if he can maintain track position.
125 laps led is 31.25 dominator points, not to mention the points he could get for fastest laps in clean air.
Then as long as he puts together a solid lead lap finish, he could be in a prime position for a big DFS day.
That’s especially true when you consider Bristol was one of his better tracks in the Xfinity Series.
I love Briscoe as a super contrarian play in large-field DFS contests. The same holds true for medium-sized single entry or 3-max, where people get a bit chalkier. I believe he’ll be under-owned in these formats.
Bristol Final Remarks
You’ll notice I left off guys like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Kevin Harvick. These guys are all fine plays in tournaments.
It’s just a matter of preference with these, as they all have their merits and concerns.
I just gave what I think are the best tournament plays relative to projected ownership.
Same goes true for the mid-to-lower tier like Ricky Stenhouse, Austin Dillon, and Daniel Suarez. They are all solidly playable in cash and tournaments. My projections and ownership have them all running close together, and I don’t have any strong opinions on one vs the other in one-on-one decisions.