The NASCAR Cup Series will head to Bristol Motor Speedway this week for some short track racing. If any drivers have any scores to settle, this is one of the races to do it. Yes, I am talking to you Chase Elliott. All of the races have been pretty good this season and I expect the same in Thunder Valley. 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….
Kyle Busch: Kyle Busch is the safest pick in the field. 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 finished 1st, 1st 20th and 35th using the aero-package that will be used Sunday. His two poor finishes were results of being spun out while leading the race. If Busch does not get dumped, he should finish in the top 5.
Chase Elliott: Chase Elliott has been fast at every track this season so there is no reason why he should not be fast again Sunday. The Cup Series used the reduced down-force package at Phoenix this season. Elliott led the most laps in that race. It is hard to compare Bristol to Phoenix, but it just shows that the No. 9 car has speed at every track. Elliott led 112 laps and finished 3rd in the last race at Bristol with the current aero-package. The No. 9 car will have the No. 1 pit stall and that is a huge advantage at Bristol. Elliott is my pick to win.
Brad Keselowski: How lucky is Brad Keselowski. He drew the pole position for Darlington and came back and did it again for the race at Bristol. So how important is the pole position for the race? The driver who has started from the top spot has finished 1st or 2nd in 4 of the last 5 races at Bristol. I expect Keselowski to finish up front Sunday.
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.
Ryan Blaney: Ryan Blaney should be an excellent pick Sunday. He has dominated both races at Bristol using the current aero-package. Blaney led 100 laps in the spring and 121 laps in the night race. He also led 158 laps at Bristol last year, so he is good in any car in Thunder Valley. He is a bit of a “Boom or Bust” driver but we will have a good insurance policy in the Garage.
* I would have Joey Logano in the Garage this week but I have used the No. 22 car too much. If you have 6 or more allocations with Logano, I would use him over Denny Hamlin.
Denny Hamlin: Denny Hamlin won the last race at Bristol and he has been the best driver for Joe Gibbs Racing this season. He has been on a hot streak since NASCAR returned from the Covid-19 break. The No. 11 car has finished 3 or the 4 races in the top 5. The only race he failed to finish in the top 5 was when the tungsten fell out of his car at Darlington and he started the race 8 laps down. Hamlin still had the 3rd-fastest green flag speed in that race. I will start Hamlin in the Garage Sunday.
Good luck this week!
*Stats from Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Pro and NASCAR Media.
** Photos from NASCAR Media
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