The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the action-packed Bristol Motor Speedway for 500 laps at the half-mile bullring. The starting lineup is set thanks to a tiered random draw. That gives us some obvious plays and fades, but we also need to be cognizant of race and tournament strategy for lineup building. I’ll take you through my Bristol process before getting to the driver picks.
NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings Picks & Strategy
The first thing to note is that this aerodynamic package will more closely resemble the 2018 package than the 2019 package. That should make passing a whole lot easier. In those two 2018 races, there was an average of 11 cautions per race. Bristol has a high degree of randomness when it comes to predicting outcomes, so we’ll want to find some low-owned gems that give us a shot to put together a relatively unique lineup with plenty of upside.
Additionally, since there are 500 laps, it is paramount to get the dominators right. You’ll want to pick two to three dominators per lineup, and build the rest of your team after selecting your dominators. You cannot win a big GPP without nailing the dominators. For multi-entry strategy, it’s a good idea to mix and match dominator candidates.
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NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings Dominator Picks
Here are my top dominator candidates, in order, with a brief explanation for each:
- Brad Keselowski – Starts on the pole and dominated portions of the first 2018 Bristol race.
- Kyle Busch – NASCAR’s most dominant driver at Bristol with eight career wins. His pit stall selection may be an issue.
- Ryan Blaney – Starts in fourth, so he will have the preferred high line to start the race. Led a total of 221 laps in the two 2018 races.
- Chase Elliott – Last week’s winner will have prime pit position which is huge at Bristol. He’s finished in the top seven 50% of the time at Bristol.
- Joey Logano – A two-time Bristol winner, will start third on Sunday.
These certainly aren’t the only potential dominators, just my top five. I could see Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones or even Matt DiBenedetto having race-leading capabilities.
As far as strategy, it may be interesting to go underweight on Kyle Busch, since he’ll be highly owned and probably won’t lead the early going with so many fast cars starting ahead of him. His pit position could produce some issues, as he selected his stall 29th thanks to a poor finish at Wednesday night’s race.
One driver that routinely dominates at other tracks, but not at Bristol, is Martin Truex Jr. He has just two career top-five finishes at Bristol, and only three top-10 finishes in 24 races. Yikes. He’s a top fade candidate among the expensive tier.
NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings Upside Picks
I’m looking for upside at Bristol, so that’s going to lead me to a handful of drivers that have the capability to finish in the top five.
Kurt Busch ($8300) – Busch is a six-time Bristol winner, and will roll off from 12th on Sunday. He’ll have one of the better pit stall selections thanks to a fifth-place finish at Charlotte on Wednesday. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Busch in victory lane, especially if some mayhem takes place.
Matt Kenseth ($8100) – Kenseth is a four-time Bristol winner and will probably go low owned thanks to a combination of poor recent performance, starting position and other solid plays in his price range. I wouldn’t go crazy here, as he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, but a 15% play will probably get you overweight on him without having too much exposure.
Erik Jones ($7000) – DraftKings whiffed on this price and Jones will be a chalky play, but he still should be in plenty of your lineups. He has race-winning upside, with two top-five finishes at Bristol in six races. He also has two wins at Bristol in five XFINITY Series races. A steep-track master, Jones also has a win at Darlington.
Tyler Reddick ($7900) – If you’re not betting Reddick to win, you can at least throw him in a chunk of your tournament lineups. Everything PJ Walsh cites in that article is reason enough to love Reddick, but also that 21st-place starting position gives him plenty of place differential potential.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7400) – Stenhouse is a nice pivot off of Jones and Reddick. Stenhouse will be lower owned thanks to his wrecking reputation, his lesser equipment and a relatively high starting position. But I love this spot for Stenhouse. He has a good pit stall and he’s racing at perhaps his best track. Stenhouse has four career top-four finishes at Bristol, as well as a sixth and a ninth. Any driver with top-five upside at this price tag should be in plenty of your lineups.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7100) – This $7k price range is loaded with Bristol specialists and DiBenedetto is one of them. He nearly won last year in the No. 95 car, and now has improved to Penske equipment. I’m curious what his ownership will be, with everyone remembering his performance from last year, but also maybe scared of him drawing the ninth starting position. Either way, a driver with race-winning upside priced at only $7100 needs to be in at least a few of your lineups.
Two other drivers in the same price range, Bubba Wallace ($7500) and Christopher Bell ($7300), are safer plays that start back in 36th and 35th, respectively. I don’t love their upside as much, but both are usable in GPPs. However, they make better plays in cash game formats thanks to their high floor. It’s a great way to hedge by using them in cash, but going underweight on them in GPPs. If you do use them in GPPs, just know Bell has more upside than Wallace and is priced cheaper, so he’s the better play of the two.
John Hunter Nemechek ($5500) – This is a bit risky to play a driver in lower mid-tier equipment that starts 18th, but like the aforementioned drivers in this section, Nemechek has big upside. He finished inside the top five in both Bristol races last year in the XFINITY Series and has three top-eight finishes at Bristol in four races in the Truck series. He can reasonably score a top-12 finish, which would equate to at least 38 DraftKings points. That’s huge value at this price.
NASCAR at Bristol DraftKings Fades
William Byron ($7700) – Byron is pretty poor at Bristol with no finishes better than 16th in the Cup Series. That won’t cut it, especially with so many other good plays in his price range.
Aric Almirola ($6700) – He has only one top-five finish in 20 career Cup races at Bristol. He’ll likely need a top-five finish to have a shot at being in the winning lineup thanks to his second-place starting position.
Bayley Currey, Joey Gase, Quinn Houff, Gray Gaulding and Garrett Smithley are all back-marker cars starting too far forward thanks to the random draw. Fade them all.