Bristol, TN – Finally, it’s time for some short-track racing at one of NASCAR’s more popular tracks, Bristol Motor Speedway. Big change in tracks this week in Bristol after last weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway. Michigan provides one of the wider tracks on the circuit while Bristol is a quarter of the size, where high banking and racing two-wide can be a challenge.
For fantasy owners, short-track racing means a possible overhaul on your lineup this weekend. There is a small group of drivers who have mastered the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile”, while others in the Group A and B still have room to improve.
Alternate pick: Carl Edwards – Edwards has fallen on hard times of late and needs a solid finish at Bristol to try and gain some momentum leading up to the start of the Chase. He is coming off a 36th place finish at Michigan, a track he normally excels at, with the hope of getting back on track. The poor results at MIS cost him two spots in the standings as he now sits in fourth place. Edwards has two wins at Bristol along with six top-10 finishes in his 14 starts. His average finish at Bristol in 12th, not one of his best tracks, but definitely one he should bounce back at on Saturday. He won the pole in March at Bristol and finished in second place.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Earnhardt has been as high as third in the standings, but currently he finds himself in ninth place with little room for error if he wants to make the Chase. His one and only win at Bristol came in 2004 when he led 295 of the 500 laps. Earnhardt does have 12 top-10 finishes in 23 starts at BMS so another top-10 finish on Saturday is not a stretch.
Ryan Newman – There is no question that Newman struggled at Bristol early in his career, but now it seems like he has figured the place out. Newman has been running well of late finishing no worse than 16th in his last six races this season, including a win at Loudon. He has finished in the top-10 in five of his last six races at Bristol. In the spring race at Bristol, Newman finished 10th and led 26 laps.
Alternate pick: Brad Keselowski – Keselowski is on a hot streak right now over the last few weeks and as a fantasy owner, I will continue to ride along until it’s over. He has leaped from 23rd in the point standings after Loudon to his current position of 12th and likely to make one of the wildcard spots for the Chase. Keselowski finished third last week at Michigan, his worst finish in his last three races. He has just three Cup starts at Bristol with his best finish being 13th. He has plenty of momentum heading into the weekend and another top-10 at Bristol seems likely.
Regan Smith – If you’re like most fantasy owners, including myself, you are likely running out of starts for David Ragan and Paul Menard at this point of the season. With that in mind, I am turning to Smith this weekend at Bristol with expectation he will finish in the top-20. His stats at Bristol are not eye catching by any stretch, but he is still quite capable of a top-20. Smith has an average finishing position of 25.7 in seven career starts at Bristol with his best finish being 14th. He started third here in the spring, but finished a disappointing 22nd. Smith may be the best option from Group C this weekend.
Alternate pick: Paul Menard – Menard has slide to 18th in points over the last two races and looking to rebound this weekend in Bristol. His average finish at Bristol is 20.6 in eight starts, but he did qualify fourth in the spring race and finished a surprising fifth. If you are looking to save a couple of starts for Menard closer to the end of the season, Bobby Labonte might be a viable option. Labonte finished 13th earlier this year at Bristol.