Tonight’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway should be an exciting one as a playoff cutoff race. As a result, some drivers will be points racing, while others will be looking to win. That can help inform our decisions for tonight’s DFS slate.
In addition, because there are 500 laps scheduled, dominators will come into play. In most lineups, we’ll be looking at two, three or even four dominators (price allowing). Looking back at the last three low-downforce Bristol races, here is the dominator breakdown:
- Kyle Larson: 200 laps led, 109 fastest laps, 104.5 dominator points
- Kyle Busch: 117 laps led, 58 fastest laps, 58.25 dominator points
- Ryan Blaney: 100 laps led, 23 fastest laps*, 36.5 dominator points
- Brad Keselowski: 67 laps led, 27 fastest laps, 30.25 dominator points
*Blaney ran only 117 laps before lapped cars took him out
- Chase Elliott: 112 laps led, 45 fastest laps, 50.5 dominator points
- Clint Bowyer: 120 laps led, 36 fastest laps, 48 dominator points
- Ryan Blaney: 121 laps led, 30 fastest laps, 45.25 dominator points
- Joey Logano: 95 laps led, 19 fastest laps, 33.25 dominator points
- Kyle Busch: 100 laps led, 55 fastest laps, 52.5 dominator points
- Denny Hamlin: 131 laps led, 30 fastest laps, 47.75 dominator points
- Brad Keselowski: 115 laps led, 32 fastest laps, 44.75 dominator points
- Chase Elliott: 88 laps led, 39 fastest laps, 41.5 dominator points
In all three races, there was a big drop off after the fourth-highest dominator. However, I should note that Blaney had 24.5 dominator points in this year’s first race in only 199 laps before crashing out. He was well on the way to a dominant performance, possibly at the expense of one of the other drivers above.
Looking at the stats, Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Elliott and Blaney each appear two times. Blaney would possible have appeared three times if not for his problems in this year’s opener.
Armed with these stats, let’s take a look at my top dominator and value plays for tonight’s slate.
NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings DFS Dominator Picks
Brad Keselowski ($11,200) – Keselowski starts on the pole, and thanks to his Bristol history becomes the slate’s top dominator play. However, I don’t think that makes him a lock for lineups. He should be highly utilized by fantasy players, and with the wildness of Bristol an early exit or bad strategy would be costly.
Keselowski has the safety net of his win last weekend at Richmond, so he’ll be looking to get stage wins and the overall win.
I’d look to have 35-40% exposure on Keselowski, and I still think that puts you underweight.
Chase Elliott ($10,700) – I’m splitting hairs here between Elliott and Kyle Busch, but I give the nod to Elliott based off his higher starting position and superior performance at the 2018 night race. The 2018 night race was Busch’s weakest of the three relevant Bristol races, while it was Elliott’s strongest.
He’s had strong races at night this year (Darlington 2, both Charlotte races, Martinsville, Darlington 3, Richmond), with Kansas being his only major blip under the lights.
Kyle Busch ($10,400) – Busch is my favorite to win, but probably only second or third in line for dominator points thanks to his ninth-place starting position. Still, I expect him to wind up at the front at some point during the night, which means he’ll contend for the lead.
A win would go a long way toward turning his season around and giving him some momentum in the second round of the playoffs.
Other dominator candidates (in order of likelihood): Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick.
In terms of exposure, I’d be underweight on Logano and Harvick. Logano is likely to lose out to Keselowski in the early going and will probably have to deal with faster cars later. Harvick just hasn’t dominated under this package at Bristol.
I like going overweight on Truex and Blaney. Truex has had terrible results at Bristol, but his awful history should keep his ownership depressed. He has had some better runs as of late, in terms of fastest laps. I was met with plenty of Blaney resistance on Twitter this week thanks to his recent struggles. However, those came at tracks he’s notoriously bad at.
He’s a great bet to win and has plenty of place differential potential starting 14th.
I’m a bit uncertain on Hamlin, but you should definitely have some exposure to him. A 25-30% play seems reasonable. He’s locked into the next round, so he can look to win instead of points race.
NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings DFS Value Picks
Jimmie Johnson ($8400) – Johnson is a great play in all formats. I don’t believe fantasy players will use him too much because there are so many great plays at the top of the board. That could mean a significant number of stars and scrubs lineups.
And even when players go more balanced, there will be plenty of people using Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto.
Johnson has the third-best average green flag speed at Bristol in the last three low-downforce races. That includes the second-fastest car earlier this year while bringing it home in third.
Start him with confidence in all formats.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7600) – Stenhouse averaged a 10th-place green flag speed in the two Bristol races in 2018. Earlier this year he did post a ninth-best green flag speed, but that could be misleading thanks to his early departure in 34th place.
Still, a driver with five top-six finishes and six top-nine finishes in 15 career starts at this track deserves a look.
Matt Kenseth ($6300) – I think a lot of people will be all over John Hunter Nemechek, and Nemechek is a fantastic cash game play. That makes him fine in tournament formats as well, but I think his ownership will be too high for such a highly-variable track.
Enter pivot play Matt Kenseth. Kenseth rolls off 19th, but has the potential for a much better finish. Earlier this year he came home 16th. In 2017 when he last raced at Bristol prior to this year, he had two fourth-place finishes.
Kenseth is a four-time Bristol winner. Use him at least 20% in tournaments to get overweight.
NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings DFS Driver Notes
Here are the current Cup Series Standings:
- Kevin Harvick – Advanced to Round 2
- Brad Keselowski – Advanced to Round 2
- Denny Hamlin +64
- Joey Logano +51
- Martin Truex Jr. +38
- Austin Dillon +36
- Chase Elliott +28
- Alex Bowman +27
- Kyle Busch +18
- Aric Almirola +7
- Kurt Busch +7
- Clint Bowyer +3
- William Byron -3
- Cole Custer -8
- Matt DiBenedetto -25
- Ryan Blaney -27
That means the drivers safely in Round 2 who are looking to win are Harvick, Keselowski, Hamlin and Logano.
The drivers who, for all intents and purposes, must win to advance are DiBenedetto and Blaney.
Truex, Dillon, Elliott and Bowman will probably be points racing early. If they accumulate enough stage points and/or certain drivers drop out, they may be able to comfortably race for the win later.
Kyle Busch, Almirola, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Byron and Custer will probably be points racing most of the night, unless they either have an extremely strong car or are behind the bubble late and near the lead. In both cases they’d then have incentive to win.