NASCAR will take their show to Thunder Valley this week for some short track racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. If you like action, this is the race for you. Drivers will not be scared to shove competitors out of the way in order to make it to the front. It should be fun to watch. The Supermarket Heroes 500 can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
The race this week will be different from what we seen last year at Bristol. NASCAR decided to scrap the aero-package they used at the short tracks last year and go back to what was on the cars in 2017 and 2018. This means the 8” spoiler is changed to a 2” spoiler and the 2” splitter has been reduced to 0.25”. Forget what you saw last year at this track and focus on the 2018 results for your picks.
Bristol is a rhythm racetrack. Drivers need to get into the throttle and on the brakes at precisely the right time in order to make fast laps in Thunder Valley. They will have to figure out the rhythm Sunday without any practice or qualifying. The veteran drivers who have had a lot of success at Bristol should be the first to get their rhythm down in this race. It would not be a bad idea to focus your picks on the experienced drivers for the race at Bristol.
Here are my picks for the Supermarket Heroes 500…
Driver Group Game A Picks
(Start) Joey Logano: The Penske Racing Fords will line up in the first two rows Sunday and that should mean trouble for the rest of the field. They have led 820 laps in the last 4 races at Bristol. Logano has averaged 80 laps led in his last 3 races at Bristol and has won at least one Stage in 2 of the 3 races. I planned on using Kyle Busch in this spot but Logano has been more consistent in 2020. I will roll the dice with the No. 22 car.
(Bench) Kyle Busch: Kyle Busch should be the best pick in Group A. He grew up racing the Bullring in Las Vegas and Rowdy has used Bristol Motor Speedway as his personal playground ever since he entered NASCAR. Busch has 22 trips to Victory Lane in the three series at Bristol. He won the last 2 races at Bristol using this aero-package. The bad news is that Busch has not led a lap in 2020 (other than the 14 laps led at Daytona). His No. 18 team seems to be a step behind the competition. His talent alone should allow him to finish in the top five Sunday.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Joey Logano 2) Kyle Busch 3) Chase Elliott 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Denny Hamlin 6) Brad Keselowski 7) Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game B Picks
(Start) Kurt Busch: You really cannot have too many Busch’s in your lineup Sunday. Kurt Busch is almost as good as his brother at Bristol. He has 6 trips to Victory Lane at Bristol (2nd most to his brother). Busch won the last race at Bristol in the current aero-package. It will likely take the field a while to find their rhythm Sunday. I do not expect either Busch brother having any problem turning fast laps in Thunder Valley.
(Start) Ryan Blaney: Ryan Blaney should be an excellent pick Sunday. He dominated both races at Bristol using the current aero-package. Blaney led 100 laps in the spring and 121 laps in the night race in 2018. He also led 158 laps at Bristol last year, so he is good in any car in Thunder Valley. Blaney will have some momentum after his 3rd-place finish last Thursday night.
(Bench) Matt DiBenedetto: Matt DiBenedetto needs to be your driver if you are worried about saving allocations in Group B. This is one of the best races to use DiBenedetto. He was only 4 laps away from winning the race at Bristol last year and that was in an under-funded Leavine Family Racing car. He should be able to finish up front in his Wood Brothers Ford.
(Bench) Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie Johnson is your driver if you want someone different from who the rest of your league will have in their lineups. Johnson was one of the best drivers using the reduced down-force aero-package at Bristol. He won the race in 2017, had a 6th-place average finishing position and he scored Stage points in EVERY Stage. The No. 48 car has been fast this season. If Johnson can get some track position he should compete for a top-5 finish Sunday.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Kurt Busch 2) Ryan Blaney 3) Jimmie Johnson 4) Matt DiBenedetto 5) Clint Bowyer 6) Erik Jones 7) Alex Bowman 8) Ryan Newman 9) William Byron 10) Ricky Stnehouse Jr.
Driver Group Game C Picks
(Start) Matt Kenseth: I already used one allocation with Matt Kenseth and I hate to use another one, but I have more trust in Kenseth in a race without any practice then a rookie who has never turned a lap in a cup car at Bristol. Kenseth has 4 wins on his resume at Bristol (3rd-most in the Cup Series). He finished 4th in both races at Bristol in 2018 using the same aero-package that will be used Sunday.
(Bench) Christopher Bell: Tyler Reddick is a better choice than Christopher Bell but I think it is a good idea to save Reddick for the larger tracks. Bell got off to a horrible start in 2020, but he started to run better since the series returned from the break. Bell finished 1st, 2nd and 14th in his last 3 Xfinity Series races at Bristol. I expect the rookie to compete for a top-15 finish Sunday.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Matt Kenseth 2) Tyler Reddick 3) Christopher Bell 4) Ty Dillon 5) Cole Custer
Driver Group Game Team
Good luck this week!
*Stats from Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Pro
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