FANTASY: One Wild Night
Irwin Tools Night Race Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Sure, the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Winning it is the Holy Grail of NASCAR, and fans put it on their bucket list. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a fan that wouldn't at least consider attending the Bristol Night Race over Daytona.
For one, the Night Race is, well, at night. When the sun goes down and the lights turn on, it tends to bring out the wildness in each driver. And let's be honest, anyone that's willing to drive over 200 mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic has a wild side.
Secondly, Bristol's 0.533-mile oval presents a lot closer quarters than the 2.5-mile superspeedway of Daytona. Bumpers touch, tempers flare, helmets get thrown; it's Bristol!
Lastly, from a fantasy standpoint, it's easier to prognosticate success than it is at Daytona. Sure, the likelihood of a car visiting victory lane with its paint job fully intact is slim-to-none, but there does seem to be a select group that wins a large number of the races at Bristol.
Here's a look at the best choice for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing rosters this weekend:
Bristol Motor Speedway is the second smallest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule at 0.533 miles around. With banking up to 30 degrees, the cars carry the corners with speed and that allows for passing despite the small size. It also means that if a pass doesn't go so well, paint is traded.
The track itself is the X-Factor. The small size means that the racing takes place in a tight area and that can lead to unpredictable outcomes if and when something goes wrong. It's likely that bad luck takes out at least a few cars.
This week is tricky. On one hand, you'd hate to see the bell cow of your fantasy team get wrecked and waste a start since you only get nine. On the other, you know the production will be there if all goes well. The advice is to be cautiously assertive. If a top driver's stats are too much to ignore, start him. If he's middle of the pack at Bristol, save him.
- #2 Brad Keselowski - Toss out the 30th place finish from last year's Night Race (it happens at Bristol), and he's money, having finished first, first and third in three of the four most recent races at BMS.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - There's nothing great about Kenseth at BMS, as he has just two wins in 27 starts, but he's very consistent with eight top-10s in the last 11 races at the track.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - I wrote yesterday that he needs to win two of the last three races to make the Chase. He has five career victories at Bristol, so it's go time!
- #5 Kasey Kahne - He won at the track in March, so people will be high on him. But, he has an 18.2 average finish at Bristol over his career, so the stats don't support him winning again soon.
- #16 Greg Biffle - He's never won at Bristol, but Biffle's 12.1 average finish is tied for third-best among active drivers.
- #18 Kyle Busch - This is an example of a fantasy bell cow whose stats are too hard to ignore. Five wins in 17 Bristol starts is quite impressive. He also leads active drivers in average finish (9.8) and driver rating (103.0) at the track.
- #78 Kurt Busch - Like his brother, Kurt Busch has five wins at BMS, so he clearly has the track figured out.
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - He ranks second among active drivers with an 11.6 career average finish at Bristol.
- #22 Joey Logano - It's unlikely he wins in consecutive weeks. He has a single top-10 in nine starts at BMS.
- #99 Carl Edwards - Here's the counter example to Kyle Busch: Edwards is another B-list bell cow and while he's ok at Bristol, seven top-10s in 18 races just isn't enough success to risk a start.
- #13 Casey Mears - He's second in fantasy scoring on the C-list this year among entered drivers. Without a lot of other options, he's about the best option.
- #34 David Ragan - He's about as good of an option as Mears. Ragan has little success at Bristol, but the equipment matters less here. He won earlier this year at Talladega where a similar thing could have been said.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - I'm saving him for the cookie cutters where he has more ability to control his finish. He could easily be the highest C-list score at Bristol, but isn't worth the risk at an unpredictable track.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.
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