The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series changes the clock this week for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first of three consecutive night races. There are only three races left before the playoffs, and with Bristol having three different victors in the last three BMS races, it is highly possible for a new winner to emerge.
Kyle Busch ($10,800 on DraftKings) has won four times at BMS from 2009 to 2011. In 24 starts at Bristol, Kyle Busch has five wins, 13 Top 10 finishes, and 1,959 Laps Led, the most of active drivers. He has the sixth-best Average Running Position of 13.9, the most Fastest Laps at 773, and the second-best Driver Rating of 99.3. Kyle Busch led the most laps in the last two August Bristol races but has only one Top 10 finish in the last five BMS races. He was second in first practice and fifth in final practice while qualifying 18th. Kyle Busch is one of the best options, as his practice speeds indicate a Top 5 finish, which will lead to a solid number of Place Differential points.
Will there be a week where Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700) won’t compete for the win? Since he captured his third consecutive Top 3 finish last week, he has proven to be the driver to beat this season. In 23 starts at Bristol, Truex has three Top 10 finishes, which includes an eighth-place showing from the most recent race in the spring, in which he led 116 Laps and had 89 Fastest Laps. Truex was seventh in first practice and 11th in final practice while qualifying sixth. Truex should be pinpointed for a strong finish based on his overall performance this season.
Kyle Larson ($10,500) dominated most of the Bristol race this past Spring, leading 202 Laps. However, he failed to win that race due to a pit road speeding penalty, which relegated him to a sixth-place finish. In seven starts at Bristol, Larson has three Top 10 finishes. He has the eighth-best ARP of 14.5, and the seventh-best DR of 92.8. Larson was second in final practice and will start second. Based on his speed in final practice, Larson will compete for the win and lead many laps as in the Spring race.
Brad Keselowski ($10,100) will not be a strong pick this week. In 15 starts at BMS, Keselowski has two wins and five Top 10 finishes. Keselowski has failed to finish in the Top 10 in the last three Bristol races. Keselowski was 17th in first practice, 24th in final practice, and will start 17th. He has finished 15th or worse in the last two weeks and his recent races at Bristol do not signal strong results.
Kevin Harvick ($9,800) is the defending winner of this week’s race. In 33 starts at Bristol, Harvick has two wins, 16 Top 10 finishes, and 876 Laps Led, the fifth-most of active drivers. Harvick has finished in the Top 7 in the last four Bristol races. Harvick has the fourth-best ARP of 11.9, the second-most Fastest Laps at 668, and the fourth-best DR of 96.3. He was 18th in first practice, 17th in second practice, and qualified 29th. Harvick has been great in recent Bristol races and has looked better in practices than in qualifying, making it inevitable that he will score plenty of PD points.
Denny Hamlin ($9,600) earned a Top 10 finish earlier this season at Bristol. It was his third Top 10 finish in his last four Bristol starts. In 23 starts at BMS, Hamlin has one win and 11 Top 10 finishes. Hamlin ranks 10th at ARP at 14.8 and ninth in DR at 90.5. Hamlin was the fastest in first practice and had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. He will start seventh. Hamlin performs best at short tracks like Bristol and has looked solid throughout pre-race events. Watch for him to secure a finish around his starting position.
Matt Kenseth ($9,400) picked up his first Top 5 finish at Bristol earlier this season since his last victory at the site in 2015. In 35 starts at BMS, Kenseth has four wins, 21 Top 10 finishes, and 1,572 Laps Led, which is the second-most of active drivers. Since 2005, Kenseth has the fourth-most Fastest Laps at 636, the third-best ARP of 11.5, and the best DR of 100.2. Kenseth starts fifth and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average during final practice. Expect Kenseth to finish around his starting position based on his final practice speed.
Chase Elliott ($9,200) is still fighting for a playoff spot, so he needs quality finishes to maintain his points position. In three starts at Bristol, Elliott has two Top 10 finishes, which includes a finish of seventh from earlier this season. Elliott has the best Average Finishing Position of 8.7, the second-best ARP of 11.1, and the third-best DR of 97.4 at BMS. Elliott will start fourth and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Elliott will finish behind his starting position but remain in the Top 10, based on his final practice speed.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Jamie McMurray ($8,500) obtained his 12th Top 10 finish of the season at Michigan last week. In 29 starts at Bristol, McMurray has 11 Top 10 finishes. In the last six Bristol races, McMurray has finished no worse than 14th. He was 13th in first practice, fourth in final practice, and will start 11th. McMurray has been consistent this season and his practice speeds point to another consistent finish in the Top 10.
Kurt Busch ($8,400) should be highly considered for the good amount of points he can gain from PD. In 33 starts at Bristol, Kurt Busch has five wins, 16 Top 10 finishes, and 1,062 Laps Led, which is third of active drivers. Since 2005, Kurt Busch has the seventh-best ARP of 14.0, the seventh-most Fastest Laps at 438, and the eighth-best DR of 91.4. He will start 25th and was 14th in first practice, and 25th in final practice.
Bristol is one of Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s ($7,700) best tracks statistically. In nine starts at the site, Stenhouse has five Top 10 finishes and has the second-best AFP of all drivers at 10.4. Stenhouse was ninth in first practice, was ranked 11th in the 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts 14th. Stenhouse looked good in practices and has solid history at this track, making him one of the best picks.
Ryan Newman ($7,200) has picked up three Top 15 finishes in the last four races in 2017. In 31 starts at Bristol, Newman has 16 Top 10 finishes. Since joining Richard Childress Racing in 2014, Newman has only finished worse than 16th once at Bristol. Newman was 15th in first practice, third in second practice, and starts 13th. Newman’s practice speeds point to a finish ahead of his starting position around the Top 10.
Trevor Bayne ($6,900) is a solid value play at Bristol. In six starts at the site, Bayne has four Top 15 finishes, which include finishes of 15th, fifth, 12th, and 11th, in his last four starts. He has also finished in the Top 20 in four of the last five races in 2017. Bayne was seventh in final practice and starts 20th.
Ty Dillon ($6,800) has been a top value pick for most of this season and do not expect that to change this week. Ty Dillon has finished 21st or better in the last five races this season. In two starts at Bristol, Ty Dillon has placed 25th and 15th , finishing ahead of his starting position both times. He starts 22nd and was 21st in first practice, while his 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice was ranked 21st.
Matt DiBenedetto’s ($5,800) best career finish of sixth came at Bristol in 2016. DiBenedetto has finished 21st or better in four of his five starts at the site. He also finished with a positive PD in each of his five starts at Bristol. DiBenedetto starts 34th and was 32nd in first practice, and 27th in final practice. DiBenedetto will finish ahead of his starting position and score a small number of points from PD as implied by his practice speeds.
TOP DRIVERS IN EACH PRICE RANGE FOR PURE MICHIGAN 400 – BASED ON COMBINATION OF PROJECTED PERFORMANCE AND VALUE
$10,000 – Plus Range
1: Kyle Larson ($10,500) – He looked very fast in final practice and starts on the front row. Expect him to lead plenty of laps and compete for the win.
2: Kyle Busch ($10,800) – He starts far back enough and has been fast enough in practice to be worth starting for obtaining points from PD.
3: Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700) – He has been a quality, competitive pick every week. His practice speeds are pointing to a Top 10 finish.
$9,000 – Plus Range
1: Kevin Harvick ($9,800) – He starts far back in 29th and his speeds in pre-race events have been much better than that position.
2: Matt Kenseth ($9,400) – He had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice.
3: Denny Hamlin ($9,600) – He looked solid throughout pre-race events.
$8,000 – Plus Range
1: Jamie McMurray ($8,500) – McMurray has been consistent at Bristol in recent seasons and his practice speeds have looked favorable.
2: Kurt Busch ($8,400) – He starts back far enough to easily steal points from PD. His practice speeds have looked respectable.
3: Daniel Suarez ($8,100) – His practice speeds have looked solid and he starts 12th. A Top 10 finish is likely.
$7,000 – Plus Range
1: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,700) – Bristol is one of his best track and he looked well in practices.
2: Ryan Newman ($7,200) – Newman has done decently the past few Bristol races and has favorable practice speeds.
3: Austin Dillon ($7,500) – He has looked adequate in practices so far and he has done alright at Bristol in the past.
Below $7,000 Range
1: Trevor Bayne ($6,900) – Bayne has looked nice in final practice for his value.
2: Ty Dillon ($6,800) – He has finished 21st or better in the last five races this season and finished with a positive PD in all his starts at Bristol.
3: Matt DiBenedetto ($5,800) – Bristol is his best track and his practice speeds looked better than his starting positon.