The final race of the first round of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is here. Wow, that went by quickly… Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson already secured their spot in the Round of 12. Will we have another new winner in the Bristol Night Race or will the championship continue to be a battle between Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Larson. Anything can happen at Bristol. The Bass Pro Shop Night Race can be seen Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Fantasy Live Playoff Format
There are 10 races in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. We can use each driver 5 times. That means we need 50 allocations to get us through the 10 playoff races. That means we only need to use 10 drivers throughout the playoffs in out lineups. We can get through the entire schedule by only using Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick. We can sprinkle in Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick into the final position. You do not need to pick any drivers outside this list. Just stick to the top drivers and you should be fine.
Here are my picks for the Bass Pro Shop Night Race…
* The race Saturday night should be a battle between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. I am picking Larson to win the race and Chevy as my winning manufacturer. I will also pick Kyle Busch as my top Toyota driver and Joe Gibbs Racing. This will give me bonus points if either driver wins the race.
Kyle Larson (4): Kyle Larson has never won at Bristol but he is my pick to win Saturday night. Larson finished second in both races at Bristol in 2018. He has a lot more speed in 2021 than he had in that season. He has also averaged 92 laps led in his last six races at Bristol. This should be a battle between the Kyle’s Saturday night (Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch) so I will have both of them in my lineup.
Chase Elliott (5): Hendrick Motorsports really ran well at Dover in the spring. Their cars finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Elliott finished 3rd in that race and he should be fast again Saturday night. I know Dover is not exactly like Bristol, but it is the closest track we have to compare with Bristol since they put dirt on the track in Thunder Valley in the spring. Elliott scored 18 Stage points and finished 7th in the Bristol Night Race last year. I expect a similar race from the No. 9 team this week.
Kyle Busch (5): Kyle Busch is in 10th place in the Playoff Standings. He is only eight points above the cut line. He needs a great race Saturday night and he should get it at his best track. Busch has 22 trips to Victory Lane at Bristol in the three top series. Rowdy is by far the best driver at this track. He simply needs a car that he can wheel around the track. I want to use my allocations with Busch before he is eliminated from the playoffs and his “I don’t give a shit” attitude kicks in.
Joey Logano (3): I will take my chances with Joey Logano Saturday night. He shocked everyone when Logano won the Bristol Dirt Track Race. He has two wins on Bristol’s concrete track too. I am focusing my picks on how the drivers have performed this year in the 750 HP aero package races. Logano ranks second to Denny Hamlin, so he should be good again Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick (3): The No. 4 car won this race last year but Kevin Harvick is not the same driver he was in 2020. Harvick has finished his last four races on oval tracks using the 750 HP aero package in the top-eight. He should finish in the top-10 and score some Stage points Saturday night. Harvick has finished 5th and 8th in the first two playoff races. I expect another top-10 finish from Harvick Sturday night.
Kurt Busch (5): Kurt Busch is in almost the same situation as his brother. Busch sits at the cut line for the playoffs and he needs a good race in order to advance. Both Busch brothers are great at this track. The older Busch Brother has won six times at Bristol and his 9.3 average finishing position in the last six races at Bristol is third-best in the series (behind Kyle Busch 5.3 and Kyle Larson 7.2). I will have Busch in the Garage and hope he does his thing and runs up front all night.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.
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