FANTASY: It's Bristol, Baby!
Food City 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
This weekend marks the first go-around of adult bumper cars for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as it heads to Bristol Motor Speedway. Racing on one of the shortest tracks in NASCAR, drivers don't complete 500 laps with a car in pristine condition. They simply don't.
Everything is tight at Bristol: the track that's banked up to 30 degrees; the pits that extend fully around the interior of the track; the distance, which puts the leaders into lap traffic very quickly. This is short-track racing at its best, and it's performed at NASCAR's highest level.
Some drivers excel in this format, while others simply can't figure it out. Here's a look at who should perform well in Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing:
Bristol Motor Speedway is the second-shortest track on the NSCS schedule at 0.533 miles. As mentioned, it's banked up to 30 degrees, which means that despite the short distance, the cars can hold a lot of speed through the corners. This creates a racing environment that has the cars racing faster than they really should go on such a tight track, and that leads to a lot of dented bumpers.
The size of the track will definitely be a factor from a couple of standpoints. The first being that the drivers might be unlucky in getting swept up in a wreck that they didn't cause. The second being that lap traffic plays a big role in the race, both for those looking to pass and those who get forced laps down and are effectively taken out of contention for the win.
Unlike a restrictor plate track where it's anybody's opportunity to do well, that's not the case at Bristol. Only some drivers will perform well. The problem, however, is that like the restrictor plate tracks, there is a lot left up to chance. Managers should roll the dice on starting the best drivers but do so with the understanding that bad luck might strike some of them.
- #18 Kyle Busch - This is one of his best tracks. He's the only driver in the field with a top-10 average finishing position (9.9) and has five career Cup wins at BMS.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - He's picked up three wins at Bristol with 18 top-10s in 28 starts.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - The No. 24 team has performed well in the early going, and considering some inconsistency over the past few years, it might be best to use him when you can. He has five wins at BMS over his Cup career.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - He's the best driver at a lot of the tracks the NSCS visits. This isn't one of them. He has just one win in 24 Bristol starts, so he can be saved for another track.
- #2 Brad Keselowski - Last week's winner has been Jekyll and Hyde at Bristol recently. In his last five starts at the track, he has two wins, a third-place finish, and two 30th-place finishes. The good news is that he's finished first and third in the two most recent daytime races at BMS.
- #11 Denny Hamlin - He's also inconsistent at Bristol, but has started the past three races at the track in the top-10 and won there in 2012.
- #16 Greg Biffle - Not the most eye-popping numbers, that's for sure, but Biffle has the highest average fantasy points on B-list at Bristol. His 12.0 average finish at the track is third among active drivers, even though he's never won at the track.
- #22 Joey Logano - He's really coming into his own as a driver this year. He has a 9.1 average starting position at Bristol, but drops to 19.9 by the end of the race. While that sounds like a negative, it could also be interpreted that with experience gained, he'll improve his finishes.
- #14 Tony Stewart - This is not Smoke's track. He has just eight top-10s in 29 Bristol starts and his lone win came back in 2001.
- #99 Carl Edwards - Like Johnson, Edwards is consistent at enough tracks that he's not worth tossing into the mix at the others. He's won twice at Bristol, but has just seven top-10s in 19 starts.
- #3 Austin Dillon - In the absence of a whole lot of other options, Dillon rises to the top as the C-list's best driver.
- #42 Kyle Larson - Growing up in the short track world, Larson could surprise with a strong rookie performance at a track that's usually unkind to rookies.
- #40 Landon Cassill - He sits a top the C-list in terms of fantasy points/race this season because he finished 12th at Daytona. That race is luck of the draw, and to put things in perspective, he's failed to qualify for the two races succeeding Daytona.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily rank order.
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