The Fantasy Live Playoff Game has two races in the books and eight more races to go. The picks are slowly climbing up the leaderboard. They outscored 91% of the entries after the race at Darlington and climber to 94% after the race at Kansas. We still have some work to do and we are going to need some luck at Bristol. This track has a history of ruining some of the top drivers seasons. Hopefully we can navigate this minefield and make it to the top of our league standings. The Bass Pro Shop Night Race can be seen Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network (the start time was moved up an hour because of the threat of rain).
FANTASY LIVE PLAYOFF FORMAT
There are 10 races in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. We can use each driver 5 times. Each driver will score points the same way they scored points in the regular season game. The difference is that the 4 drivers competing for the 2023 NASCAR Championship will NOT score Stage Points at Phoenix. The rest of the field will score Stage Points if they finish in the top-10 of the Stage.
Track history is as important at Bristol as it is at any track on the schedule. Drivers either know how to run up front in Thunder Valley or they are simply in the way. I looked at the drivers track history, their speed on the long-runs in practice and their qualifying position for Saturday night’s race. The drivers who checked each box are in my lineup at Bristol.
The Cup Series teams had 20-minutes to shake down their cars for Saturday night’s race at Bristol. Practice really does not matter at Bristol. NASCAR applies PJ1 (sticky stuff) on the track. All of the drivers will run the bottom in practice but they will move to the top in the race once the “sticky stuff” is activated. We still need to look at the lap times, but I would not build my lineups from the speed charts. Qualifying is more important, because it has been tough to pass at Bristol. I plan to use many drivers who qualify up front in this race.
FANTASY LIVE LINEUP
CHRISTOPHER BELL (4): Bell had a good chance to win the Bristol Night Race last year. He qualified fourth, led 143, finished second in Stage 1, won Stage 2 and finished fourth in the race. The No. 20 car looks fast again this week. Bell posted the fifth-fastest speed in practice and he won the pole for the race. Bell should finish up front if his pit crew can quit making mistakes.
WILLIAM BYRON (3): Byron is starting to figure out Bristol Motor Speedway. He finished third in the last two races in thunder Valley and his cars have been faster this year than they have been in the past. Byron posted the eighth-fastest speed in practice and qualified third for the race. It also helps that he has the fastest pit crew in the Cup Series to help Byron get track position on a tough pit road.
CHASE ELLIOTT (5): Elliott is no longer racing for the championship, but that does not mean he is not a good pick for the race Saturday night. Elliott started 23rd and slowly made his way to the front at Bristol last year. He finished second in the race and the No. 9 car looks fast again this week. Elliott posted the seventh-fastest speed in practice and qualified seventh for the race. I will take a chance with Elliott Saturday night.
BRAD KESELOWSKI (5): The Bristol Night Race was the best race for RFK Racing in 2022. Keselowski led 109 laps, won Stage 1 and finished 10th in the race. It is obvious that RFK Racing figured out a setup that works at Bristol. The team is running a lot better in 2023 than they were in 2022. I would not be surprised to see Keselowski racing for the win at the end of the Bass Pro Shop Night Race.
KYLE BUSCH (5): The No. 8 team has had a lot of bad luck with flat tires and hitting the wall. Their bad luck cannot last forever, right? Maybe a trip to the best track for Rowdy will help him get back to Victory Lane. Busch has eight wins at Bristol in the Cup Series (and too many to count in the Truck and Xfinity Series). He is either going to compete for the win or crash out of the race. I have Busch in my lineup and if his bad luck pops up again, I will put the No. 8 car in the Garage.
GARAGE DRIVER: CHRIS BUESCHER (5): Buescher won this race last year. Can he do it again? I would not bet against him. Buescher has won three of the last five oval-track races (not including Daytona). He has finished in the top-three in four of the last five oval-track races. The No. 17 team is running too well right now to fade. I will have Buescher in the Garage as an insurance policy Saturday 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.
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook