Fantasy NASCAR Picks-Food City 500 at Bristol

Pearce breaks down his picks for this weekend’s Xfinity and NASCAR races below!

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Now back to the great analysis from Pearce!

Monster Cup

Kevin Harvick – He was not a factor at Bristol last year, but that was due to the SHR manufacturer change. In 2016 he was the man at Bristol. He’s unstoppable this year, but he’s not bulletproof. If his team screws up on pit road at Bristol, his day as a hog is likely over.

Kyle Busch – It’s Busch v. Harvick in 2018. Truex and Larson are not in the conversation. Busch won at Bristol last spring, but that does not erase the handful of wrecks that have happened since Bristol ground away the progressive banking. He hates this track and loves this track. He’ll score a bunch of points and he can put the damn thing in the wall relatively easy here. Be careful with your Busch exposure.

Martin Truex, Jr. – He was very strong in the spring Bristol race and suffered a draconian penalty, but for the hogs, all of the penalties are at Bristol. Punts and average cars can survive, but after a green flag pass thru penalty, you’re chance of leading a lap evaporates.

Brad Keselowski  The #2 has been in a lot of wrecks at Bristol lately. This is a hog price, and he’s never a hog. He let us down at Martinsville. Can’t break my heart when IT’S ALREADY BROKEN!

Chase Elliott – Losing Alan Gustafson might be a good thing. That’s the genius that brought him down pit road at the end of the Texas race when Elliot was a lap down. Hog price, but not a hog.

Kyle Larson – Close your eyes. Invision… Wait, open them up. You can’t read with your eyes closed. Read this first. Imagine Bristol. Now, imagine Larson running near the wall in the corners. Imagine the fast laps piling up. Now, money is raining down on you. Close your eyes and imagine all of that.

Denny Hamlin – This is a hog scraps candidate (picks up a couple fast lap and laps led points here and there – there are 375 points available this week). Hamlin can earn a top 5 and earn 10-15 hog points and sneak into the optimal lineup.

Joey Logano – Just like Hamlin.

Aric Almirola – NOPE!

Jimmie Johnson – The Admiral Ackbar play. I’d rather look up gullible in the dictionary than play Jimmie Johnson again, but you know it’s going to happen. His career at Dover (11 wins) and Bristol (2 wins) has been amazing. Those stats do not represent the “old” Jimmie. He won at Dover and Bristol last year.

Ryan Blaney – He can go off any week. Ignoring Blaney at Martinsville did not work out. He almost burned the faders again last week, but he got hit with a pit road penalty. We should lump him together with Hamlin and Logano. Blaney ran 100% of the fall race inside the top 15.

Kurt Busch – I want to skip writing about him. That makes me believe that people won’t want to roster him either. If he’s fast in practice, which is possible because of the way the SHR Fords have been running, then he could get some hog scraps.

Erik Jones – He can be a hog. He can be a top finisher with hog scraps. He doesn’t fit with Larson, Harvick, and Busch. That’s probably asking too much. He fits fine with two of them. He should be priced above 9K.

Clint Bowyer Jones or Bowyer? They’re both top 10 drivers this week. It depends on practice and starting position. Who will earn more place differential points and who is really fast on the long run. The better car is more likely to score 10 hog points. He should be priced above 9K.

Ryan Newman – He’ll be low owned. DFS players will pay up to Jones and Bowyer. Newman has 4 top 10s in his last 6 Bristol races, and 5 top 15s. In terms of DFS rank over his last 6 at Bristol: 10, 20, 34, 11,12, and 11. You’re probably thinking – those are optimal lineup scores. Not at $8,000 and not at a short track.

The difference in points between first and 10th at a short track is enormous. You’re better off having the driver with the 17th most points and using the extra $3,000 to buy another hog. Newman has not been in the optimal lineup in the last 4 Bristol races.

Austin Dillon – This is a tough price range. The only way a $7,000 fits is if they qualify in the mid 20s. Optimal lineups have expensive hogs, punts, and a 6k value driver. Beyond that, it’s the occasional 8K or 7K place differential play.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – He’s really good at Bristol, but he’s wrecked every week this year. Have fun with this one. His team has put in a ridiculous amount of overtime fixing the #17 car each week. OSHA violations aside, this team is overworked and they’re going to make mistakes, and that likely means more wrecks.

Alex Bowman – Last week he got a glowing review in the article and he wrecked on lap one. Fantastic! He’s never driven a decent car at this track, so it’s tough to go on track history. If he starts in the 20s he is worth some bullets.

Daniel Suarez – His average running position (ARP) improved from 21st in the spring race to 13th in the fall race. That’s great, but we need place differential. If Suarez can earn 10 place differential points, then I’ll dig deeper. Last week proved again why Suarez is a GPP play only. Another thing to that, Bristol is a 500 lap race. That’s a lot of wheel work for a driver with a broken thumb. He needs to start near 30th or I’m not going near him.

Jamie McMurray – He’s normally a lock for a top 15 finish every time at Bristol, but it’s been a weird year for McMurray. The most consistent driver has been consistent, but only in terms of terrible finishes. He earned a top 5 last week by not wrecking for once. Further complicating our understanding of McMurray is that his team blatantly cheated last week.

NASCAR missed it, but reddit didn’t. Now, NASCAR looks bad. I wouldn’t expect the #1 team to get any breaks. What happens if they did not cheat last week? Does McMurray wreck, again? He’s still cheap, but the same fears still exist. The only difference is that he’ll have higher ownership this week.

Paul Menard – The price will work in optimal lineups. His numbers aren’t that much different from McMurray’s. His average finish is 18th. That’s where I would project him. That’s not enough points. If he drives 24th to 14th, I still don’t believe that’s enough points. I am confident that the winning GPP will get 5 of their drivers into the top 10 (unless one is starting very deep in the field). If Menard starts 30th, then of course he’s a play.

William Byron – the rookie struggled last year at Bristol in the Xfinity series. There are three practices; that’s plenty of time for Byron to figure out what he is doing.

Kasey Kahne – We will need to dial back expectations based on track history, but if he goes out there an turns laps, then he’ll earn a top 20. At Bristol, the cars that wreck are the elite car. They are battling for position. The medium to small teams are turning laps. They’re laps down pretty early. They just try to stay out of the way.

A.J. Allmendinger – He has one career top 10 at Bristol. He’s worth a flyer, if a bunch of elite drivers werck out. He’s around a 20th to 24th place car. Starting in the 30s would enlarge his dot on the radar, but that won’t happen.

Darrell Wallace, Jr. – This seems like a race where Bubba can just turn laps and end up in the top 15, or he wrecks multiple times. In the Xfinity series, he has 3 top 15s in 5 races. That’s okay. He finished 17th or better in all 6 of his Dover races. I’m warming up. He finished 2nd in the 2014 Truck race at Dover. I like Bubba, but here’s my concern. He’s won three poles at Dover. I have feeling Bubba is going to qualify inside the top 20 and ruin this play.

Chris Buescher – In 2016, Beuscher finished 5th with Front Row Motorsports. Don’t ask me how. His best practice speed was 19th. His 12th place starting position must have been enough. I’ve got to look this up. There were plenty of well spaced cautions that helped him, and some debris cautions. Also, on lap 374, there was an eleven car pile up.

All of those cars were better than Buescher (#2,3,20,21,22,24,27,41,42,44,48 accident frontstretch). He was good at Bristol in Xfinity series, but has struggled with inferior equipment in the Cup series.

Trevor Bayne – He’s awesome at his hometrack. This will be the most popular value play of the week. Qualifying will determine his ownership.

Ty Dillon – His salary is like the Contra code. This is the cheap week, and we need savings. Dillon has experience and can be a patient driver. Last week, he passively turned laps and earned a top 15 finish. In the Xfinity series, he earned 8 top 10s in 9 races at Bristol.

Michael McDowell – Everyone will pick DiBenedetto, so the pivot will be McDowell. His car is better. He has more experience. He just needs to be patient and hope he gets lucky. That’s what happened last week.

Matt DiBenedetto – This has has been a good track for DiBenedetto and he’ll be a very popular punt. Be careful with your ownership. He’s not a lock by any means. For the most part, the punts are very similar. They are turning laps waiting for the good cars to wreck out or go multiple laps down. For that reason, you can go a little cheaper with your punt and fade DiBenedetto’s possible high ownership. Like always, qualifying will have final say.

David Ragan – Last week was another top 25 finish for Ragan, but it was an ugly one. In Ragan’s last three Bristol races, he has three top 25s. He was very close to being in the optimal lineup in all three races.

D.J. Kennington – He ran 493 of the 500 laps at Martinsville and finished 28th. We can count on him to turn laps. The deciding factor will be his starting position. There’s a couple cheaper punts that I like more.

Reed Sorenson – I don’t trust this car.

Ross Chastain – Love this one. Double duty at a short track means a ton of experience, and he doesn’t really need it. He’s good at Bristol and Dover, and he knows what he’s doing. He trying to finish races. His head is focused on racing, not viral videos. The team has assemble some solid veteran crew members Todd Parrott, Tommy Baldwin, and Scott Eggleston.

Harrison Rhodes – Pay the $100 more for Chastain.

Gray Gaulding – He races for BK racing. Last year, Corey Lajoie raced for BK Racing. Read the Lajoie post.

Corey Lajoie – Pull your seatbelt tight for this one. Lajoie has raced in the #72 car twice this year, Daytona and Phoenix. Saying that he raced is a little bit of an overstatement. He blew an engine at the beginning of both races. Are you ready? This is the part where you need your seatbelt on. Last year, Lajoie was in the optimal lineup for both Bristol races. He was priced at the minimum and he went out and turned laps. He raced 35th to 24th and 35th to 28th. He’s at the minimum again.

Landon Cassill – Last week was nice, but everyone and their mother wrecked. Cassill finished 13 laps down. The #00 finished 20 laps down at Atlanta, 12 at Las Vegas, 20 at Phoenix, 11 at Fontana, and 289 at Martinsville. Cassill can’t out race the punts in this car.

Chad Finchum – You’ll hear about Finchum in the Xfinity portion, so let’s look at Carl Long’s #66 car. It’s suffered a mechanical failure in 4 of its last 7 races. If it doesn’t crash, it’s a 30th to 33rd place car.

 

Xfinity

Elliott Sadler – First off, when you take out all of the Cup drivers, that’s a 3-4 car bump for every car in the field. Sadler gets that bump, and he is pretty good at Bristol. Experience at the unique tracks is huge in the Xfinity series. Sadler has great Dover finishes as well (5 consecutive top 10s).

Justin Allgaier – Like Sadler, Allgaier has been to Bristol plenty of times. With JRM, he’s been a stud at Bristol. He has 3 top 5s in his last 4 races (competing with Cup regulars). In the one finish outside of the top 5, Allgaier’s average running position (ARP) was 6th.

Christopher Bell – Bristol has a groove in the corner near the wall, and that’s where dirt trackers love to run. Bell has two 7th place finishes at Bristol in the Truck series. If you are really digging deep, he won both of his ARCA races at Salem (a track comparable to Bristol).

Cole Custer – It’s easy to forget or dismiss Custer when the Cup drivers are on the track. This week, DFS players need to look at him in a new light. Last fall at Bristol, Custer had the 5th best ARP among Xfinity drivers. Like Bell, he has 2 top 10s at Bristol in the Truck series. His K&N races at Bristol aren’t very impressive, but that was 4 years ago. That’s a lifetime ago for a 20 year old driver.

Tyler Reddick – JRM certainly puts out good cars for Bristol. Michael Annett finished 12th and 10th last year. Reddick’s Bristol races were a little worse than Bell and Custer. His Salem race and Bristol K&N stats do not jump off the page. The lack of experience is worrisome at this price, but we’ll wait to see how practice goes. A top 10 is in the works with JRM, but he does not seem like a solid point per dollar play.

John Hunter Nemechek He almost wrecked at Atlanta and earned a solid finish because other good cars screwed up. He did wreck at Fontana. My gut says no, but he has Truck experience at Bristol (4 top 10s in 4 races, and 2 top 5s). The #42 car is more than capable of a top 5 finish.

Daniel Hemric – This is my early week favorite. Hemric is known as a regular kid that worked his way up through the short track ranks. In his rookie season, he finished 7th and 5th at Bristol. He has 2 top 5 finishes in his Truck races at Bristol.

Matt Tifft – This has been a good year, but this is a steep price for Tift. I’ll consider him with a starting position in the teens.

Ryan Preece – From here down is where the “No Cup Bump” is big. These drivers did not outrace cup drivers. Everyone of these drivers should finish 4 spots better than their average finish. That’s not the only bump Preece will experience this weekend. The threat of Elliott Sadler wrecking Preece and ruining his chance at $100,000 is real. At Preece’s price, he’s not worth the risk.

Ryan Reed – No Cup Bump. I never play Reed, but I might this weekend. He’s been in this series forever, so he has a lot of experience at Bristol. I looked at the experience and its terrible. In 9 races, his average finish is 28th. Nevermind. He wasn’t even good in practice last fall. His best lap ranked 21st. Next.

Ryan Truex – In Blake Koch’s last three Bristol races in this cars he finished 14th, 9th, and 8th. Blake Koch had a lot of experience at Bristol (13 races). His first 10 races weren’t that special. There is a learning curve at Bristol. Truex has 3 Xfinity races at Bristol and 3 DNFs. Last year at Bristol, he ran an average race in the Truck series and wrecked in the K&N series. The lofty price tag is too much given the track history.

Brandon Jones – Before I look at the history, I assume Jones has been terrible at Bristol. He was an underachieving driver during his time at RCR. Actually, it’s not bad. Last year, he was disappointing at Bristol, but the RCR cars were the weakest they had ever been (first Xfinity season without a Dillon means less funding). He ran better than he finished in those races. Based on his history, he should run inside the top 10 all day. He’s the cheapest JGR driver and has the most experience. I like Jones a lot. His last three Truck races at Bristol (2015-2017) are all top 10s. His K&N races are solid, too. He has a 6th place finish at Salem in 2015.

Austin Cindric – In the Penske car. He’s been to Bristol twice (Trucks 2016 and 2017). He earned a 9th place finish in his second go around. He finished 5th last fall at Dover in the trucks.

Michael Annett – As mentioned above, he’s been really good for JRM at Bristol. If you look at his career at Bristol, he’s always been good (RPM, Rusty Wallace, and Germain). Theoretically, his Dover results should be the same. They’re not quite as good, but they’re solid – 10 top 15s in 12 Dover races. He must like high banked, concrete, short tracks.

Chase Briscoe – Due to Harvick missing qualifying, the #98 SHR car started last. I’m not completely sure, but that should mean Briscoe gets the last pick for a pit stall. That’s a huge disadvantage at Bristol. The ride is top notch, but he’s never run an Xfinity race at Bristol or Dover. He was average in his races at Bristol and Dover in the Trucks last year, but that’s okay for a rookie. In 3 ARCA races at Salem, he has 2 poles, and 2 tops 10s. He has raced well in decent equipment this season. The car he is driving at Bristol may be the best car that he’s ever had in his career.

Kaz Grala – With the Cup drivers exting this week, DraftKings had to even out the salaries. Grala is overpriced a tad. He finished 11th in one truck race at Bristol and suffered a mechanical failure in the other. An 11th place finish is pretty good for an 18 year old. His Dover Truck finishes are better. He finished 10th in 2016 and 2nd in 2017, but wait there’s more. In the K&N East series, he started his career with a 20th place finish at Bristol in 2014. The next year he finished 4th, and the next year, 3rd. Maybe, Kaz is underpriced.

Ty Majeski – In the crap Roush car. Briscoe didn’t look bad in this car last week. Majeski is an iRacing legend and a very good late model racer. He raced three Xfinity races last year. He struggled in his first at Iowa and improved to 16th in his second Iowa race. He finished 10th at Homestead. Don’t get too excited. Those results are inflated. All of those races were void of Cup competition. You would think that Majeski has been practicing Bristol on iRacing, but he hasn’t.

Shane Lee – This is a great opportunity in an RCR car, but his price is too high for a driver with no experience at all. In the ARCA series he has been a top driver. At Salem, he’s been very good, as well (finished 12th, 4th, and 9th). In his only Irace this week on 4/11/18, Lee raced from last to first at Bristol against a below-average field (1250 strength).

Spencer Gallagher – His Bristol finishes were much better than his ARP last year. His Dover finishes were worse. It’s not surprising that he wasn’t very good at Bristol in the Trucks either. He earned two 2nd place finishes at Salem in the ARCA series, but I am willing to bet that his equipment was much better than the the rest of the field.

This is Austin Dillon Lite we’re talking about. Bristol is a track where a driver will improve with each spin, but $7400 is a steep price for a driver that is “improving.” Gallagher posted top 10 speeds in the last Bristol practice, so we won’t know if he’s getting better until he’s gotten better.

Ross Chastain – Top 20 driver, top 15 with the No Cup Bump. The price is favorable. He’s wrecked in 2 of the last 3 Bristol races, but they were late race wrecks. His ARP in the last 6 Bristol Xfinity races is strong: 16th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 19th, and 17th. His Dover numbers are just as good. You may remember the Boss running triple duty at Dover last spring. He was in the optimal lineup in the Cup series. He likes this type of track.

Ryan Sieg – I have a hard time accepting this price. Bristol is one of his better tracks. Dover might be his best track. I won’t completely rule him out, but he’ll likely start near the spot he finishes.

Garrett Smithley – Too costly for 25th-ley

J.J. Yeley – Remember that time at Phoenix where we found out Phoenix was his hometrack and he was actually going to finish the race? Everyone freaked out. He ended up scoring a whopping 18 points in that race. The rest of his races are DNFs.

He should be priced in the low 5000s. He’ll likely run this race just to get closer to the 50% of the laps mark required for the end of the season bonus, but I would be shocked if he returns value.

Alex Labbe – He won at Antigonish last year. It’s the closest thing to Bristol on the Canadian circuit. Before you load up, He only led 2 of 300 laps and the field consisted of 15 cars.

Tony Mrakovich – He finished 9th out of 22 cars in his only ARCA race at Salem. If he were priced in the 5000s, I would love that stat, but priced in the 6000s, I’m not that impressed. Lupton usually races this car around 20th, but Lupton has a lot of experience. The price requires a higher standard. We need to see his practice data, qualifying position, and his approach to the race.

Vinnie Miller – If he starts in the back. His experience: 16th out of 26 cars in a Bristol K&N race.

Jeremy Clements – Love him. He’s always around a 20th place car with Cup drivers in the field, so give him 4 spots this week. He’s finished 18th or better in 5 of his last 6 Bristol races. The bad finish was due to a late race mechanical issues. With the DNF, his ARP was still 20th. He’s good at Bristol. He’s not bad at Dover either. Last 6 Dover finishes: 22, 23, 22, 22, 21, and 10.

Josh Williams – One of his few Xfinity races last year was Bristol. Williams raced from 32nd to 22nd. Mario Gosselin has fielded five Bristol cars as an owner. Four of which have resulted in top 25s. That bodes well for Williams and his teammate Labbe.

Josh Bilicki – You can try to Bilicki Glitch, but at 5700, the cheat code might be busted. I would consider him, if he starts DFL.

David Starr – He started near the back and was a decent value play at Atlanta. Then his engine blew up on back-to-back weekends on the west coast swing. At that point, most of us wrote him off. He started in the back at Fontana, and survived the chaos. Through attrition he earned a 26th place finish. He pulled off a similar feat at Texas and earned a 21st place finish. With the price of other punts going up, and Starr going down, you’ve got to start considering him again.

Joey Gase – He’s priced too low. This is a decent car (DiBenedetto’s teams Xfinity ride). This is a decent driver. In the past, he’s been a 25th place car, but this ride is better (3 top 20s in the last 4 races). I would put him somewhere between 20-25 in a field that had cup drivers. He is a 20th place car this week, and he’s never wrecked in his 10 Bristol races.

Stephen Leicht – If starting near last. He last raced at Bristol in 2007. He finished 20th, but that was a long time ago in a much better ride.

Tommy Joe Martins – The #8 car shined last week. This ride has been in several optimal lineups. Martins wrecked at Bristol last year. In the trucks he suffered a mechanical failure. It’s a punt, what are you expecting in terms of history? The current form of the #8 car is awesome at this price.

Timmy Hill – He has only finished 2 of his 5 Xfinity races this season. Last spring he finished 24th at Bristol, but was an S&P in the fall. In the Spring race, there was one practice and Hill ran 46 laps. In the fall, he ran 50 laps. Hard to tell if that means anything. A couple weeks after the spring Bristol race is when Hill turned into a Start & Park. His sponsorship immediately changed to “OCR Gaz Bar.” Hill probably didn’t have a real sponsorship. Occasionally his sponsor would switch back to “ CrashClaimsR.us” and wouldn’t you know it, he actually tried to run those races. Guess what? This year, Hill has been S&Ping with “CrashClaimsR.us” as his sponsor. A good detective trusts his gut. Mine says he’s a S&P and a mechanical failure at best.

Spencer Boyd – He tries to finish races, but he’s never raced at anything like Bristol. He’s a true punt.

B.J. McLeod – Someone made a mistake. Even if B.J. starts in the mid 20s, he’ll still be  a popular punt. In his 9 races between Bristol and Dover, he’s a 25th-30th place car. Taking the cup drivers out doesn’t bump the punts. The drivers replacing the Cup drivers are better than the punts. In the last 5 races, McLeod is a 25th-30th place driver.

Mike Harmon – At Fontana, he S&P’d, but said he didn’t. Karma is real because he failed to qualify in the next race because he spun out during his one qualifying lap. We’re even. Harmon has failed to finish 8 of his 12 career Bristol races.

Chad Finchum – He’s pulling double duty this week. Seriously. He has not finished the last 4 races because of a legit mechanical issue, 2 blown engines, and a crash. At Texas, he destroyed his car. That’s not a quick fix for Carl Long’s underfunded S&P operation.

Easy fade right? Wrong. Finchum won a K&N race at Bristol. He led 112 laps in that race. That’s right. Saturday morning, you’ve got to make a decision. This is his home track and his favorite track. He has 3 top 10s in 5 K&N races at Bristol. That 2016 Bristol win was against a lot of up-in-coming stars (Gragson, Grala, Gilliland, and there were other good drivers whose names didn’t start with a G).

Matt Mills – He has barely any experience in a truck or an Xfinity car. He runs only a handful of laps in practice. His car is junk. This is why he wrecks every week.

Jeff Green – S&P

Morgan Shepherd – S&P.

Remember to check out the FanVice Premium Slack where I will be answering questions on race day for both races along with post-qualifying cheat sheets and projections for both races.

Good Luck! ~ Pearce