DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race
The Sprint Cup Series is back after a hiatus, returning to Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time this season. Joe Gibb Racing’s Carl Edwards ($9,700) picked up the win in the spring race, and he looks for the first season sweep of the Bristol races since teammate Kyle Busch ($10,600) turned the trick back in the 2009 season. Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski ($10,200) is the last driver to win back-to-back Bristol races, taking checkers in the 2011 night race and 2012 spring event.
Edwards posted a top speed of 131.407 mph to take the pole for Saturday’s night race. In fact, the JGR cars will go off 1-2-3 and 5, with Denny Hamlin ($9,500) joining Cousin Carl on the outside of Row 1. Edwards leads all drivers with a 117.1 Driver Rating over the past five starts at Bristol, running an amazing 94.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15.
Busch is tied for the most Bristol wins by an active driver with five, so he will be a popular DFS selection. While he has struggled at the short track recently, he has 13 Top 10s and 16 Top 20s with 1,703 laps led and a 13.1 Average-Finish Position (AFP) in 22 career starts in Thunder Valley. Hamlin doesn’t appear in the Top 10 in Driver Rating, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, over the past five Bristol races, but he has one win with nine Top 10s and a 16.8 AFP in 21 career Bristol tries. As a No. 2 DFS option starting on Row 1, he is an attractive play.
Matt Kenseth ($9,200) looks to atone for a 36th-place finish in the spring race, as he was collected in an early wreck. He won the spring race in 2015, one of his four career Bristol victories. He has finished inside the Top 10 in 20 of his 33 career starts, posting an impressive 13.5 AFP. He will go off fifth in Saturday’s night race and he might be the best DFS value of all the JGR machines.
Hendrick Motorsports once again turns to Jeff Gordon ($8,800) to drive the No. 88 machine of Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion), who is sidelined for a fourth consecutive race. Gordon has averaged an 18.0 AFP in three races behind the wheel for Dale Jr., turning in two fastest laps in three races. He has been rather disappointing by his past standards, but at this mid-tier salary he is worth a roll of the dice considering he has five-career Bristol wins with 17 Top 5s and 25 Top 10s in 46 career starts at the track, leading 2,720 laps with a 12.2 AFP. Remember, the No. 88 was a runner-up car in the spring race, so Gordon could be quite the value with the same car setup.
Gordon’s teammates Jimmie Johnson ($9,800) and Kasey Kahne ($7,900) each have recorded one win in Bristol, with J.J. finishing outside of the Top 20 on just nine of his 29 starts. Kahne has posted five Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and 16 Top 20s with an 18.4 AFP in his 25 career Bristol turns. Rookie Chase Elliott ($8,600) is obviously the baby of the group, but he has had the most recent success, posting a fourth-place showing in his first try in a Sprint Cup Series car in the spring race.
Penske’s Joey Logano ($10,000) has won each of the past two night races at Bristol, posting a 102.1 Driver Rating over his past five starts at the track. With 268 laps led during the span, he is a tremendous DFS option. He started rather slow in his career at the track, as he has a marginal 18.1 AFP in 15 career starts. However, he has proven he is a force to be reckoned with at Thunder Valley, especially under the lights.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch ($9,000) hasn’t won at Bristol since March 2006, but he has five career wins in Thunder Valley while running to Top 20 finishes in 23 of his 31 career tries at the track. He has led 1,062 laps with a 14.1 AFP, and he had an impressive third-place finish in the spring. Over his past five Bristol outings he has 98.6 Driver Rating, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data while running 83.1 percent of his laps inside the Top 15.
ON THE DOWN LOW
As far as the lower-priced options are concerned, there is plenty of good picks for a high-low DFS lineup strategy.
You’ll certainly need a low-priced sleeper or two to round out your lineup, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700) is a great No. 5 or 6 option. While he has just seven Top 10 finishes in 25 starts this season, he was a respectable 16th in the spring race and he has placed inside the Top 20 in six of his seven Bristol starts. He has never led a lap, with an impressive 11.9 AFP he is going to be a popular DFS selection.
Greg Biffle ($7,000) has never won at the short track in 27 career starts, but he has been as steady as they come. He has a 13.1 AFP with 13 Top 10s, leading 444 laps. His AFP is third among all drivers with at least eight career starts, and he has just one DNF in the 27 starts at Bristol. HScott Motorsports driver Clint Bowyer ($6,900) is another low-priced DFS option who could easily exceed salary expectations. He, too, has never tasted victory in Bristol, but he has six Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and a 14.95 AFP in 21 career starts. Biffle will go off 34th, while Bowyer starts 31st. Both could pick up plenty of Place Different points if they live up to their career averages at the short track.
Veteran Jamie McMurray ($7,600) has posted just three Top 5s and no wins in 27 career tries in Bristol, but he has 10 Top 10s and 18 Top 20s with a decent 16.9 AFP. In the same price range, rookie Ryan Blaney ($7,800) has finished in the Top 20 in three of his past four races, and he looked good in qualifying. He will roll from the No. 4 starting spot Saturday night, looking to improve upon his solid 11th-place showing in the spring race.
Ryan Newman ($7,400) and Paul Menard ($6,800) are a pair of lower-priced veterans who could also exceeded salary expectations. Newman posted a ninth-place showing in the spring race, while Menard was a respectable 15th. Neither of the two driver appear in the Top 10 in Driver Rating over the past five Bristol stops, but Newman has a 16.0 AFP in 29 career starts while Menard checks in with a 17.2 AFP and 104 laps led, finishing in the Top 20 in 10 of his 18 Bristol outings.
Matt DiBenedetto ($5,100) had a magical run in the spring race, bringing it home in the sixth position right behind Trevor Bayne ($6,200) in fifth. If the two can duplicate that success, or anything close to it, they’ll be outstanding DFS values. DiBenedetto proved his run wasn’t a fluke, at least in qualifying, as he’ll start in the middle of the pack at 18th.