For the first time in history Bristol Motor Speedway hosts only one race on its paved surface. As fun as it was, the dirt track is not a direct comparative to what drivers will face this week. Bristol is a rhythm track and the pace on clay is distinctly different than on asphalt.
The Night Race at Bristol will be filled with comers and goers. As pit strategies play out and many drivers find themselves further back in the field, their rhythm will change. Suddenly braking points and turning radiuses will not be the same and drivers who have a hard time adjusting will get lapped.
Several drivers will manage their strategy perfectly, however, and spend most or all of their time at the head of the pack. Since the Round of 16 playoff hopefuls get to start up front, they will be the ones to keep an eye on.
But the DraftKings game cannot be loaded with contenders, so you are going to have to season your roster with some dark horses.
Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)
Kyle Busch ($11,500)
We’re going all in on Busch this week. He’s our favorite to win the race. Once he gets to the front, it is highly likely that he will dominate and stay among the top five for most of the race, lead a lot of laps, and even add some place-differential points after starting ninth. His biggest enemy will be himself and it is certainly possible to make a mistake that puts him in the eye of the storm, but for a driver with three wins and six top-fives in his last seven Bristol starts, one doesn’t want to bet against him.
Joey Logano ($10,200)
When Logano brings his A game to Bristol, he is hard to beat. So far during the playoffs, he has been on point with very competitive eighth- and fifth-place finishes at Darlington Raceway and Richmond Raceway respectively. With only 13 playoff points to his credit at the moment, he could use a little extra cushion to help make it to the Round of 12, so he has something to race for in going after the victory. The biggest reason to showcase him this week is because he is the cheapest Group A driver and that will open up some opportunities below. All five drivers at this level have the potential to finish in the top five.
Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,000)
Kurt Busch ($9,600)
Both Busch brothers occasionally have a tendency to race too hard in certain situations, but at the ripe age of 43, Kurt has matured. His sixth win on this track came in 2018 in a furious battle with Kyle. He finished second the following spring and backed that up with back-to-back top-10s in the next two races. This week, he has a lot of incentive to run a smart, safe race. Sometimes that can help a driver go even faster.
Kevin Harvick ($9,000)
Bristol is a driver’s track, so many of the hardships this team has faced through the first 26 weeks of the regular season will be ameliorated by Harvick’s skill. Even as he’s struggled on many courses, he has been incredibly strong on rough-surfaced tracks with results of either fifth or sixth. He scored his third Bristol win last fall after starting fourth. He had a ton more momentum in 2020 than he does this year, but his Darlington fifth-place finish and eighth at Richmond indicate he’s turned an important corner.
Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,500)
Ross Chastain ($7,800)
Chastain has run with the championship contenders in the last two weeks and challenged for the Southern 500 win. Last week, his seventh-place finish at Richmond came after he raced among the top 10 for most of the evening. Jumping on a bandwagon can be tricky, but even if Chastain does not earn a third consecutive top-10, he will be a good value this week as long as he falls somewhere in the teens. In his last 18 races, (a rolling half season), Chastain earned 11 top-15s, which is a percentage of .611.
Daniel Suarez ($6,600)
Suarez challenged for the win this spring when Bristol was covered in clay. That underscores his ability on short tracks. If you agree that the asphalt version of Bristol behaves like the other rough-surfaced tracks of Dover International Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, and Darlington, he has a three-race race, top-15 streak there. While we wish he had a little more momentum from the last two races, there is no arguing about his price tag and he is likely to have a very positive points-per-thousand ratio this week.
Group D: (Less than or equal to $6,500)
Erik Jones $6,400)
Jones is not going to score a top-five like he did at Bristol last year. He simply doesn’t have the equipment to be that far forward in the order. He has the skill, however, and this is a track on which driver performance is a bigger part of the equation than on horsepower tracks. He can earn a top-20 and after starting 22nd, that is going to generate positive points.
Anthony Alfredo $5,200)
Players know that they are going to get from Alfredo. It’s not going to be a ton of points, but he has been consistent with mid-20s results in his last three starts this season and a worst of 28th in four races on rough-surface tracks. As the seventh-least expensive driver in the field, he adds about $625 to the other five picks and that could come in handy.
The top-10 points’ earners from the 2020 Night Race at Bristol were: Kevin Harvick (141), Kyle Busch (117.25), Erik Jones (70), Tyler Reddick (62.5), Chase Elliott (62.25), Chris Buescher (55.5), Clint Bowyer (50), Michael McDowell (50), Aric Almirola (49.75), and Ryan Preece (48).
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