It’s that time of year again… Time for some Saturday night racing at Bristol. I wait each year for this race on the schedule. It should be even better this year than it has been in the past because there are many drivers who have scores to settle and others who will crash their mothers to make it into the playoffs. I expect a wild, action packed race. The Bristol Night Race can be seen Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (You would think NBC would put their best race on NBC, but I guess not).
NASCAR will have two practices Friday and qualifying Friday evening. The first practice is at 11 a.m. ET (NBCSN) and the final practice is at 1 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Qualifying is at 5:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN).
The cars will have a similar aero package as in the past. The cars will have 750 HP engines, without aero ducts. I expect the track will add the PJ1 compound to the trick to help promote racing at the top and bottom of the track.
The spring race at Bristol was moved to Monday because of rain. Chase Elliott won the pole but he was only able to lead 38 laps and finished 11th. The race was dominated by Team Penske Racing. Joey Logano lead 146 laps, scored 16 Stage points and finished 3rd. Ryan Blaney led a race-high 158 laps, scored 11 Stage points and finished 4th. Kyle Busch crashed on lap one. The No. 18 team worked on the car to keep it on the track. Busch took over the last 100 laps of the race and went to Victory Lane for a series-high 8th time.
Race Rewind at Bristol: Food City 500 (2019)
Here are my picks for Bristol…
Driver Group Game A Picks
Joey Logano (3): The No. 22 team is desperately trying to win the regular season championship and the 15 playoff points that goes with it. Logano had a great car in April at Bristol. He qualified 7th, had a race-high 2.6 average running position, lead 146 laps, won Stage 2 and finished 3rd in the race. Logano has now won Stages in back-to-back races at Bristol and he has finished both races in the top 4. This is one of his best tracks so the Bristol Night Race will be a good opportunity to use an allocation with Logano.
Kyle Busch (2): If Busch can avoid the wrecks Saturday night he will be in Victory Lane. It is as simple as that. Busch has finished 1,st, 1st, 1st, 35th, 39th and 38th in 6 of the last 7 races at the track. He gives a new meaning to the phrase, “If you are not 1st, you are last.” Busch has 8 wins at Bristol and he said many times before the April race that he wants to get to 12 wins and pass Darrell Waltrip before he retires. Whenever Busch is extra motivated, he is extra dangerous. This is one of those weeks.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Joey Logano 2) Kyle Busch 3) Brad Keselowski 4) Kyle Larson 5) Kevin Harvick 6) Chase Elliott 7) Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game B Picks
Ryan Blaney (3): We need to use our drivers at their best tracks and this is the best track for Blaney. He led 100 laps at Bristol in the spring race last year, 121 laps in the night race in 2018 and 158 laps in April. He continues to become one of the top dominators in Thunder Valley. I would not be surprised to see Blaney in Victory Lane Saturday night.
Kurt Busch (3): Busch is my insurance policy Saturday night. I would love to save my allocations with the No. 1 car for the playoffs but Busch is almost a lock for top-10 finish this week. Busch qualified 9th and won the Bristol Night Race last year. He returned to the track in April and nearly beat his brother for the win. After the race Busch said he would have wrecked his brother to get to Victory Lane. He may get another chance to do it Saturday night.
Erik Jones (3): Jones is on a heater right now. He finished 3rd, 3rd, 2nd and 4th before finishing 18th last week at Michigan. He spent most of the day running in the top 10 so the 18th finish does not represent how good he was. For some reason Jones is great in the Night Race and not so good in the spring at Bristol. Jones finished 2nd and 5th in his two August races at Bristol. He is running too well right now to ignore.
Ryan Newman (7): Newman has been exceeding expectations all season long and I expect him to do it again at one of his best tracks. Newman qualified 11th, scored 7 Stage points and finished 9th in the April race at Bristol. He has a 9th-place average finishing position in the last 4 races at the track. I will gladly take a top-10 finish from Newman this week so I can save my better drivers for the playoffs.
* I was going to use Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson this week because they are typically good at Bristol but both drivers have too much bad mojo going on with them right now. I need to get these picks back on track so I am using the hot drivers this week.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Ryan Blaney2) Kurt Busch 3) Denny Hamlin 4) Erik Jones 5) Ryan Newman 6) Clint Bowyer 7) Jimmie Johnson 8) Alex Bowman 9) Daniel Suarez 10) William Byron
Driver Group Game C Picks
Matt DiBenedetto (6): In my preseason Driver Profiles article I predicted DiBenedetto would win the Bristol Night Race this season. He is not my pick to win in my Early Week Driver Rankings article but I plan to place a bet on him to win this week. The No. 95 car has heated up this summer and now the series competes at DiBenedetto’s best track. If Matty D can finish 6th in a BK Racing car at Bristol, he should be able to win the race in a Joe Gibbs Racing chasis.
Ty Dillon (4): The story with Dillon this year has been… He sucks on the large tracks and he has been good on the short tracks. Dillon qualified 24th, won Stage 1, led 6 laps and finished 15th in the April race at Bristol. Wow, I wish I would have used him in that race. Dillon is a risky pick in Fantasy NASCAR but I will put him on the team since I know I can trust Matt DiBenedetto for my lineup if Dillon looks awful in practice.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Matt DiBenedetto 2) Chris Buescher 3) Ty Dillon 4) Daniel Hemric 5) David Ragan
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Joey Logano (3), Kyle Busch (2)
Group B: Ryan Blaney (3), Kurt Busch (3), Erik Jones (3), Ryan Newman (7)
Group C: Matt DiBenedetto (6), Ty Dillon (4)
I will post my final picks for Driver Group Game Saturday morning.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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