NASCAR Picks: Bristol Motor Speedway
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The Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series heads south after witnessing Kyle Larson’s third straight win at Michigan International Speedway last Sunday afternoon. If you have been following along you know that there are just three races left before the playoffs start and a lot of drivers appear to be on the outside looking in. If the playoffs were to start now Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth would be the last ones to make the field of 16 based on their points in the standings. They are the only three that would qualify that have not won a race this season. With that said there are plenty of drivers who can knock them out of the playoffs if they would happen to win one of the next three races. Elliott and McMurray look to be the safest bets to eek into the playoffs as Kenseth is at least 21 points behind them in 16th place. Kenseth would be the first one knocked out if there were to be a new winner over the next three races.
As far as first time winners go Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Dale Earnhardt Jr are all looking for their first win of the season. Out of this group Bowyer is the only one who has an outside chance of making the playoffs without the assistance of a win as he is the driver who is 21 points behind the 16th place Kenseth. It seems a bit confusing but it actually isn’t as any first time winner over the next three races will probably dash any hope that both Bowyer and Kenseth have of making the playoffs this season.
Bristol Motor Speedway always provides a lot of action and Saturday’s race should be no different. Over the last 10 races there have been no less than eight cautions in any race that has been run here in Tennessee. We now have 2 other ‘built-in’ cautions because of the new stage racing which didn’t hamper things much back in April as there were only nine cautions in that one. With the track just a tick over a half of a mile it’s no wonder that just 15 cars were on the lead lap by the end of the race. Speaking of laps, it will take at least 500 of them to complete this race so it’s probably a good idea to roster as many cars that will start in the front as you can. This will give you optimal exposure to grabbing the driver who may lead the most laps as this race is just one of three other races that will give out that many bonus points for laps led. Ok, enough of the rambling, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
It is almost pointless to write up Kyle Busch ($10,800), Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700) and Kyle Larson ($10,500) on a weekly basis as they are the guys you should be targeting almost every weekend. They lead in the point standings and even DraftKings knows to make them the highest salaried drivers in the pool. Larson will start on the outside pole with Truex just two rows behind him while Busch starts from the 18th position.
Time is certainly running out for Joey Logano ($9,000) as he basically hasn’t looked good since Richmond back at the end of April. That was the race that Logano actually won but was stripped of his berth into the playoffs due to an issue with the rear suspension at the end of the race. The driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford has won the last two night races run here at Bristol Motor Speedway but on each occasion his car was running very well as he started fifth in both of the those races. Logano will start seventh when the cars take the green flag tomorrow night.
Although Erik Jones ($8,700) is sitting in the 19th position in the standings he has been trying his best to grab that elusive win that will propel him into the playoffs. His only start here at Bristol came earlier this season where he finished 17th from the 14th starting position but it is his experience in the Xfinity that is intriguing this weekend. The driver of the #77 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota has won two of his last three starts here in Bristol while racing in the junior circuit. In both wins Kyle Larson was in the field while he beat the likes of Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick in his Xfinity win back in the spring of 2016. Now I am not predicting a win here but he definitely has the experience to pull off the feat. It also doesn’t hurt that he has captured the pole for Saturday night’s race.
We also have to take a peek at Matt Kenseth ($9,400) who will start the race from the fifth position while Chase Elliott ($9,200) will start just ahead of him from the fourth spot on the grid. Elliott has finished seventh, 15th and fourth in his only three starts here at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kenseth has had trouble keeping the car on the track as he has crashed out of the race three times in his last 10 Bristol starts. Both drivers need to keep pace to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
It looks like the folks at DraftKings are yet again up to snuff on their pricing as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,700) finds his salary $800 higher than last weekend. The driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford has already qualified for the playoffs thanks to two wins so far this season and today he will go for a third. Stenhouse has done very well here over his last seven starts as he has finished inside the top 10 five times over that time frame. Stenhouse will start from the 14th position tomorrow night.
Chris Buescher ($6,000) finds himself as a cheaper option this weekend as he has shown some flashes of brilliance over the last few weeks. Over the last four races the driver of the #37 Bush’s Grillin’ Beans Chevrolet has finished 11th or higher in three of them which could point to a good run on Saturday night. He had also had a decent run in the final practice as his car was sixth fastest of the 41 car field. In terms of racing here at Bristol he has started four races of which his best effort was a fifth place finish in the summer of last year. If you remember that race was supposed to be run at night but was run the following day after being rained out the night before. He will start from the 15th spot on the grid to start tomorrow night’s race.
We must thank Matt DiBenedetto ($5,800) for not doing well this season and thus as a result keeping his salary in such a depressed state of affairs. The driver of the #32 E.J. Wade Construction Ford seems to do well here in Bristol however as he has finished higher than his original starting position in all five races he has started. He has also finished inside the top 20 over his last three starts here which would indicate that he is probably a better driver than his seasonal points position would suggest. What I mean by this is that we know he doesn’t have the best car under on the faster tracks but on tracks like this, the name of the game is to stay on the lead, which he seems to be able to achieve at the slower speeds. However, his 34th place starting position may be too much to overcome this time around.
That will about do it for another week of Nascar analysis here at Fanvice.com. Follow me on twitter @elctrceye and as always, good luck in your contests this weekend.