NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Food City 500
NASCAR's fastest short track has gotten even faster. That should make for a wild race on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. The famous half-mile bull ring with coliseum-style seating is always an iconic event that delivers excitement. This makes the second of NASCAR's brief short-track swing, with Martinsville two weeks ago starting it off and Richmond International Raceway next weekend.
Chase Elliott set the official track record on Friday with a lap averaging 131.713 miles per hour. Ryan Blaney went even faster than that in Round 2, but since it was not the final round, it was not an official posted time. Either way, the new aero package has added speed, and therefore a new wrinkle, to this already treacherous track.
For DFS strategy, with another 500-lap race, we will once again want to target a dominant lap leader like we did two weeks ago at Martinsville. Brad Keselowski did just that in the Martinsville race, leading 424 of 500 laps at fairly low ownership, so identifying that dominator driver this week is the way to gain a massive edge.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about Bristol Motor Speedway, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on recent driver history, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kyle Busch ($15,000): Kyle Busch dominates the fantasy conversation at Bristol. He's won here seven times in his career, with the most recent coming from the pole in this race one year ago. On top of that, he has led at least 100 laps in eight different Bristol races, not all of which were in his wins, so Busch usually finds the front here. As an added bonus, Busch paced the 10-lap average charts in final practice. From anywhere in the field, you would want to consider Busch, even at this gaudy price tag, but starting 17th with very reasonable pass-differential upside, Busch will justifiably be a cornerstone of many lineups on Sunday.
Kevin Harvick ($14,300): Past Busch, we could be searching for this weekend's "Brad Keselowski at Martinsville." As mentioned, Keselowski dominated the field two weeks ago while posting no really fast speeds in practice -- so no one had any indicator what was coming, and he was relatively low-owned. The only indication would have been a super solid track history, and using that formula, we can look to Kevin Harvick. Even while finding mid-race trouble at this track last August, he still rattled off his seventh straight top-10 at Bristol, and he won one of those back in August 2016. By his standards, Harvick is off to a slow start this season, but at one of his most consistent race tracks, Harvick could jumpstart his season on Sunday.
Personally, it feels like an opportunity to gain an advantage on the field by limiting your shares of Kyle Larson ($13,000). Larson has an outstanding track history, but current form might overrule that. He has struggled mightily to find anything close to race-winning speed this year under the new aero package, and he has shown similar sluggish results in practice this weekend. Starting 16th, the potential of place-differential upside exists for Larson at one of his best tracks, which could make him extremely popular, but until the 42-car shows more signs of speed, it may be wise to stay away at such a hefty price tag, especially in small-field contests.
Ryan Blaney ($11,400): Those high-priced options are nice, but Ryan Blaney checks as many boxes as anyone. Blaney was dominating this race a year ago before a horribly unlucky crash with lap traffic. He won Stage 1 and led 121 laps in the fall race, and, as mentioned early on, actually has the fastest lap in qualifying history at BMS, but it just did not count as the official track record since it was not in the final round. Also, Blaney's car may have something in it for the long haul, posting top-five numbers in both 10-lap average charts on Saturday. Blaney will look to find the front quickly and stay there -- just as Keselowski, his Penske teammate, did at Martinsville. Blaney and Kyle Busch are, for my money, are the top two guys to build around.
Kurt Busch ($11,500): Busch won the fall race in 2018 at Bristol to officially lock up his playoff spot, and even though many wins of his wins here were before Bristol's reconfiguration, he now has five checkered flags to his name in Thunder Valley. This is strictly a place-differential play as Busch's speed has been just OK, posting only 17th in the final 10-lap average in practice. However, starting 27th, he could quickly move forward at a track he knows well. He has finished outside the top-12 only once this season, and if he continues that, he'll rack up a bunch of fantasy points. He will not come cheap, but he is affordable enough to pair with Kyle Busch and Blaney and still carve out a reasonable lineup.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($9,000): The next two drivers seem to have a pep in their step when Bristol week hits the calendar. In a career that's been anything but steady, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has actually been fairly consistent at this track. Before a late problem last fall, he had four straight top-15 showings at this Bristol. Stenhouse is expecting to break through and get a win here sometime soon. Starting 19th, Stenhouse offers a nice floor as well as good upside.
Daniel Suarez ($8,100): Suarez is still a young driver, and in his four Bristol starts, he has done something many young ones fail to do -- completed all the laps. It is a testament to his driving style and patience, and there are a lot of "laps completed" FanDuel points available this weekend that Suarez should rack up. Daniel has yet to flash even a top-10 finish at Bristol, but if he can bring his level-headed approach this weekend, his car might be fast enough to get into the top-10. He was third in second practice and ninth in final practice. He also posted top-15 numbers in both Saturday sessions, so the speed appears to hang on for at least a little while. At only $8,100, Suarez appears to have the best equipment in his price range, and it is showing.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,500): DiBenedetto probably hoped for better results switching to the JGR-backed Leavine Family Racing this year, but Bristol may be his first true test. He loves this track, posting his career-best sixth-place finish here back in April of 2016, but he also ran the horribly-underfunded GoFas Racing machine to four top-25 showings here. This week, in much better equipment than he's had previously, Matt's been extremely vocal on Twitter about his car, and the numbers say as much, with him posting third in the 10-lap averages in final practice. Confidence goes a long way, and even with the price increase, DiBenedetto could be great value here.
Ryan Preece ($6,000): Speaking of riding the wave, Ryan Preece's big break came in the Bristol Xfinity Series race conducted exactly one year ago from this date. He won the 300-miler and the accompanying Dash 4 Cash prize, putting his name on the map as a legitimate NASCAR prospect. Preece, now in a full-time Cup ride, has had a horrible start to his career after the Daytona 500, but there was one race of asylum -- Martinsville. The Connecticut native is a very strong short-track driver, and starting 30th, the safe floor has some upside as a filler play in lineups loaded with studs.
Ross Chastain ($4,000): Digging this deep, it's hard to find any sort of consistency with drivers. These cars are usually underfunded with poor drivers, but the 15-car from Premium Motorsports does not fit that bill. Ross Chastain is a legitimate stud NASCAR prospect, and he does an exceptional job completing laps, staying out of trouble, and squeezing every ounce out of a rather weak race car. If you want to jam in studs, Chastain will likely produce a very predictable finish with a floor as safe as they come should the car stay in one piece, and at only $4,000, that is all you would be hoping for.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.