NASCAR Picks: Bristol Motor Speedway

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The Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series heads to Richmond Virginia this weekend to run the 60th Annual Federated Auto Parts 400. The track is just three quarter miles in length which means the drivers will have to complete at least 400 laps to get to the checkered flag in this one.

Richmond Raceway is a D-Shaped track which means there will be a lot of passing as the corners have 14 degrees of banking while the front stretch has eight degrees of banking and basically melts away to nothing on the back stretch.

This is the last race before the playoffs start and the only way the drivers that are on the outside looking in can qualify is if they win the race this weekend. Matt Kenseth and Chase Elliott hold down the 14th and 15th spots of the 16 driver playoff field and are safe to get into the challenger round. Jamie McMurray is the driver that should be a little nervous as he, for now, occupies the 16th and final playoff spot. Although only drivers that are inside the top 30 in points can get into the playoffs by winning there really is only a few that actually have a shot of doing so.

Joey Logano ($9,200) has been trying his best to crack the top 16 but has failed miserably over the last few weeks. Yes, he did win here earlier in the year but that win was taken away due to not being able to pass post-race inspection. The driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford was able to run the second fastest lap in the final practice which is an indication that maybe he has enough to turn the trick twice here in Richmond.  His eight top 10 finishes in the last 10 races here are a clear indication that he can get the job done but the question remains, will he? Although Logano made it to the final round of qualifying, he will start 12th in tonight’s race.

Clint Bowyer ($8,800) is another driver that has run well here in the past but finds himself looking for that elusive win to gain entry into this season’s playoffs. His 643 points are good enough for 17th place in the standings but will need the win here to overtake the aforementioned Jamie McMurray. The driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers Ford has five top 10 finishes over the last 10 starts here in Virginia but his last three finishes of 15th, 22nd and 33rd are surely something to be wary of.  Bowyer will start in the seventh row from the 13th position when the green flag drops.

Erik Jones ($8,300), Daniel Suarez ($7,600) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,800) round out the top five drivers that could possibly win the race and gain entry into the challenger round next weekend. Jones has compiled 10 to 10 finishes this season while Suarez has hit a rough patch of sorts as he has finished 30th or lower in two of the last three races. Earnhardt is the sentimental favorite although he will be without crew chief Greg Ives because of a lug nut infraction last weekend. Jones will start 10th, Suarez snagged the the 16th starting position while Earnhardt has his work cut out for him as he starts 21st.

Kyle Busch ($10,700), Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400) and Kyle Larson ($10,200) are always three of the better drivers to take on a weekly basis as they not only lead a lot of laps but are able to turn the fastest laps as well. It also doesn’t hurt that they each have 10 top five finishes so far this season. Brad Keslowski ($9,800) has 11 top five finishes to lead all drivers but doesn’t seem to get the fastest lap as often as the aforementioned trio. In terms of this track it’s Busch who would seem to have the upper hand with seven top 10 finishes while Truex is right behind him with six top 10 finishes over the last 10 races here in Richmond. All three drivers will start from the first four rows while Keselowski will start from the 10th spot on the grid.

Kevin Harvick ($10,500) has seen his price skyrocket this week which is probably due to the fact that he has seven top 10 finishes here at Richmond in the last 10 races. The same could also be said for the last 10 races this season, which makes him a good candidate to stay inside the top 10 for most of the day. The driver of the #44 Jimmy John’s Ford will start 6th in tonight’s race.

Matt Kenseth ($9,000) is yet another driver who has racked up seven top 10 finishes in the last 10 starts at Richmond Raceway. His price is a bit deflated from the last three weeks and could be a serviceable play this weekend. He may be a bit more higher owned than normal as he has won the pole for tonight’s race.

Ryan Newman ($7,200) seems like an easy target here as his price has deflated as well. Newman has been able to grab three top 10 finishes in a row and appears to be getting the car in shape for the playoff run. The driver of the #31 Caterpiller Chevrolet has done well here in the past as he has five top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts. Newman will start from the 27th position when the green flag drops tonight.

Aric Almirola ($5,900) can help you grab a few of those higher priced drivers as his salary has sunk below the 6k mark as you can see. The driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford has been able to manage four top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts here in Richmond. Since his return to the track Almirola has grabbed two top15 finishes in his last six starts this season. This may not seem that great but he does start from the 22nd spot on the grid and should be able to finish in the top 20.

That will do it for another week of Nascar analysis here at Fanvice. As always, follow me on twitter @elctrceye and good luck in your contests this weekend.