The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Bristol, Tennessee this week for the Bass Pro Sop NRA Night Race. The race can be seen Saturday night at 7:30pm ET on NBC. Be sure to test your Fantasy NASCAR skills in the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game.
I am still working my way towards the top 99% for the 6th straight year. I think I will get there but I need some good breaks on the way. My team scored 302 points at Michigan and that was with Daniel Suarez crashing out and finishing 37th. My Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing picks are beating 97% of the entries (6,578 points).
The fall race at Bristol tends to see a lot more aggressive driving than we see in the spring race. There are only three races until the Playoffs begin and drivers on the bubble will do everything they can to win the race. Sometimes this means pushing other drivers out of the way. This will be a good race to leave your star drivers on the bench in the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game.
Here are my picks for the Bass Pro Shop NRA Night Race …
Yahoo Group A Picks
There are many good picks in Group A this week and it is a good week to gamble with some drivers, but I am sticking to the “sure things” this week.
Martin Truex Jr. has been fast all season and he had one of the best cars in the April race at Bristol. I am not afraid to use him this week because he almost has enough Playoff points to lock him into the championship race at Homestead. I am afraid this team may go into “test mode” in the first couple of rounds of the Playoffs since they essentially have nothing to race for. I will continue to use Truex while he races hard to collect more playoff points.
Kyle Busch has the best career stats at Bristol but he has really struggled in his last three trips to the track. The No. 18 car finished 35th, 39th and 38th. Busch has a great chance to win this week but I am down to three allocations with him so I will use one of his teammates.
Jimmie Johnson won the spring race and he has been very consistent at the track. Johnson has finished 5 of the last 6 races at Bristol in the top 7. It is just hard to trust the No. 48 team right now. Johnson has an average finishing position of 27.5 in his last four races. He has only finished one race inside the top 20 (19th last week) since the race at New Hampshire. Johnson will either win the race of finish outside the top 20 Saturday night. It is up to you if you are will to take a chance with him.
Joey Logano is the best pick on paper. He has finished four consecutive races at the track in the top 10. He went to Victory Lane at Bristol in 2014 and 2015. He has also led 290 laps in the last four races in Thunder Valley. This team desperately needs a win to make the Playoffs and I think the pressure is causing them to make mistakes. His average finishing position in the last three races 26.3. I will pass on Logano this week.
Here are my allocations left with the drivers in Group A: Kyle Busch (3), Martin Truex Jr. (4), Brad Keselowski (4), Kevin Harvick (6), Joey Logano (6), Denny Hamlin (8), Jimmie Johnson (9), Matt Kenseth (9), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9)
Kevin Harvick (6)
Harvick won this race last year and he is my pick to win this week. Harvick has a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes at Bristol. His average finishing position in the last two night races in Thunder Valley is 1.5. Harvick has led 442 laps in his seven races with Stewart-Haas Racing at the track. Harvick has consistently run in the top 10 this season and he should be fast enough to get to Victory Lane Saturday night.
Martin Truex Jr. (4)
Truex Jr. is my insurance policy this week. I do not want to use him in the race but if something happens and the No. 4 car looks slow or starts from the back; I know I have a driver who is capable of winning this race on standby. Truex qualified 3rd and led 116 laps on his way to an 8th-place finish. I expect this team to run in the top five again this week. (I would use Jimmie Johnson if you are really low on allocations with Truex and need another driver.)
Other good choices: Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin
Yahoo Group B Picks
Kyle Larson is the best choice in Group B this week. He dominated the first race at Bristol. Larson won the pole and led 202 laps on his way to a 6th-place finish. You must save an allocation with Larson for Homestead. That is his best track. He is also very good at Dover and Phoenix, so I would not use him in the race if you have two or fewer allocations left with the No. 42 car. Larson is a good driver to have on your team for qualifying points since he won the pole in April.
I will be focusing my Group B picks on the bubble drivers this week. These drivers need a win to secure their spot in the Playoffs. Their teams should be giving these drivers the best cars they have Saturday night. The bubble drivers are Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott and Clint Bowyer.
Here are the allocations I have left in Group B: Jamie McMurray (1), Ryan Blaney (1), Kyle Larson (2), Kurt Busch (4), Clint Bowyer (5), Chase Elliott (5), Austin Dillon (6), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (7), Ryan Newman (7), AJ Allmendinger (7), Kasey Kahne (8) and all the rest 9.
Chase Elliott (5)
Elliott has a series-best 8.67 average finishing position at Bristol. Elliott qualified on the front row and finished 7th in the first race in Thunder Valley. He is on the bubble of making the Playoffs so a win would really help the No. 24 team out in the final two races. Hendrick Motorsports is a smart organization and they should give Elliott the best car in their garage to help him get to Victory Lane Saturday night. HMS won the last race at Bristol and they could make it a clean sweep this week.
Clint Bowyer (4)
Bowyer is another bubble driver who I will be selecting for many of my teams this week. Bowyer is currently on the outside looking in at the Playoffs. The No. 14 team desperately needs to win one of the last three races before the Playoffs begin. Bristol may be his best shot. Bowyer qualified 9th and finished 2nd in the spring race in Thunder Valley. He needs to improve one spot if he wants to race for the championship in 2018.
Ryan Newman (7)
Newman is good at Bristol because he is the toughest driver in the sport to pass and this is one of the toughest tracks to pass other cars. Newman has been good but not great in his last five races at the track. His average qualifying position is 16.2 and his average finishing position is 13.2. He is a good choice to save an allocation with the top drivers in Group B. Last week he qualified 25th and finished in the top five. Do not be afraid to use him if he does not qualify up front. Newman knows how to slowly work his way to the top 10 at Bristol.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (7)
Stenhouse Jr. is the driver that must be on every team this week. This is by far his best track. This will be a great race to use the No. 17 car to save allocations with the top drivers from Group B. Stenhouse finished 2nd in this race last year and 9th in the spring race. His average finishing position at the track is 10.4. He should add another top-10 finish to his Bristol resume Saturday night.
Other good choices: Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne
Yahoo Group C Picks
Erik Jones is the best pick in Group C Saturday Night. My plan is to use another driver to save an allocation with Jones but I plan to have him on the team as an insurance policy. There are some other interesting choices which will allow teams to save allocations this week.
Matt Dibenedetto is the ultimate allocation savor this week. He has finished his last three races at Bristol in the top 20 with an average finishing position of 14th. It is really hard to trust him though. He is worth a shot if you feel like gambling this week.
Michael McDowell is another driver who could sneak into the top 20 this week. He finished 19th in this race last year and the No. 95 car is running a lot better in 2017. McDowell does not have a lot of upside but his floor should be about 25th Saturday night.
Here are the allocations I have left in Group C: Erik Jones (2), Daniel Suarez (2), Ty Dillon (5), Michael McDowell (5), David Ragan (8) and the rest with 9 allocations.
Ty Dillon (5)
My plan is to use Dillon in the race. He has been good but not great at Bristol. The No. 13 team said they are going to focus more on qualifying in the practice sessions because starting in the back has really put them in a hole. Hopefully Dillon can qualify in the top 20 Friday and finish in the top 15 Saturday night. Dillon started 24th and finished 15th in the April race at Bristol.
Erik Jones (2)
Jones ran pretty well in his first MENCS race at Bristol. He qualified 14th and finished 17th. I expect a major improvement from the No. 77 team this week. The Toyotas have made significant gains in their racing package since the last race at Bristol. Jones will also have more experience now that he has competed against the top cars at this track. Jones dominated the Xfinity Series races at Bristol. In his 5 races he won 3 poles. It is just a matter of time before he becomes the best driver in the MENCS in Thunder Valley.
Other Good Choices: Daniel Suarez, Michael McDowell and Matt Dibenedetto
I will post my final picks for Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Friday after qualifying.
*Stats from Driveraverages.com and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info…
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