DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Irwin Tools Bristol Night Race
The Sprint Cup Series heads down to Thunder Valley for the Irwin Tools Bristol Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The good news is that the weather forecast calls for only a 20 percent chance of precipitation, so the race should be able to go off without much of a hitch in the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia.
At the Food City 500 back in mid-April it was Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth ($10,400) taking checkers. It’s a great time for Kenseth, who is coming off a victory last weekend in Michigan. He ranks first in NASCAR’s Loop Data with a 120.1 Driver Rating, which is heads and tails better than any other driver over the past five races at Bristol. In fact, he has led 90.9 percent of his laps in the Top 15, and he is an even better DFS option considering the fact he goes off 13th and should pick up plenty of points in the place differential category.
Kenseth didn’t qualify particularly well, but his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates did. Denny Hamlin ($9,200), Kyle Busch ($10,300) and Carl Edwards ($9,500) will go off 1-2-3, giving JGR the first three starting spots for the second consecutive weekend. Edwards has led 283 laps at BMS over the past five starts, third-most among all drivers during the span. He checks in sixth in Driver Rating while running 71.6 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Edwards has claimed checkers three times in 22 starts while posting 15 Top 20s with an Average-Finish Position (AFP) of 15.2. Look for Edwards to be out front for at least a handful of laps, and he will turn in a strong finish to more than earn his DFS salary. His 24th place finish in the spring race was an anomaly. Don’t look for another poor outing again.
Kyle Busch will go off second in the Skittles No. 18. While he hasn’t been himself over the past five starts at Bristol, ranking 10th in Driver Rating, he is always a force to be reckoned with at Thunder Valley. Rowdy has been to Victory Lane five times in 20 career starts at Bristol, posting eight Top 5s, 12 Top 10s and 15 Top 20s while crashing out just once. His 12.1 AFP is hard to beat.
The weakest JGR driver from a DFS perspective might be Hamlin. Yes, he is on the pole and is a strong short track racer, and his favorable pit stall selection gives him ample space in usually cramped quarters. However, Hamlin has made 19 career starts with just one win, four Top 5s and eight Top 10s with a mediocre 17.4 AFP and two DNFs. There is only one place for Hamlin to go and that is down. He won’t be nearly as poor as his 26th-place finish in the spring race, but it would be surprising if he finishes inside the Top 10.
Hendrick Motorsports Racing’s Kasey Kahne ($8,200) looks to be a strong DFS value Saturday night. He is looking to bounce back from a 37th-place showing in the spring after being collected in an early wreck. Despite that abysmal finish he is still ranked second in Driver Rating (102.6) over the past five races while running inside the Top 15 in 84.7 percent of his laps, which is second-best among all drivers. Kahne starts on Row 10, so there is plenty of room for DFS points thanks to place differential.
Kahne’s teammate Jimmie Johnson ($9,400) isn’t worth using at this price level, as he had just one victory in 27 career starts at the track. His AFP is pretty decent, and he has 19 Top 20 finishes with just one DNF. Still, he starts 10th this weekend and Johnson is likely to go backward in the pack rather than forward. Neither J.J. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($8,300) rank inside the Top 10 in Driver Rating over the past five races at Bristol. Little E has never really fared well at the big blender, winning just once in 31 starts. He tends to stay out of trouble for the most part, and he does have 26 Top 20 showings in 31 starts. But at his price you want to see more than a 15th-20th place showing, and that’s exactly where he is likely to land this weekend.
Penske drivers Joey Logano ($10,000) and Brad Keselowski ($10,100) are worth a look after solid qualifying efforts, and they’ll share Row 3 to start Saturday night. The duo had an awful time in the spring race, as the Blue Deuce managed a 35th-place finish while Logano was collected in an early wreck, which had him reeling and trying to play catch-up. Despite Logano’s 40th-place finish in the spring he is still ninth in Driver Rating over the past five starts at Bristol.
Furniture Row’s Martin Truex Jr. ($9,000) had a couple of uneven runs at Pocono and Watkins Glen, but he bounced back rather nicely with a third-place run in the Irish Hills last weekend. Still, MTJ has never really run very well at Bristol and isn’t worth the money. He stumbled to a 29th-place showing in the spring race, and he has managed just two Top 10s in 19 career starts at the track. With a 20.7 AFP at Bristol he isn’t worth the money.
Lastly, if you find yourself with extra DFS cash to blow, Kurt Busch ($10,200) is an attractive play. He is tied with his brother Kyle and Jeff Gordon ($8,400) with five career wins at Bristol. The elder Busch has led 1,021 laps in 29 starts with 21 Top 20 finishes, and he has a strong 14.5 AFP. Kurt Busch is seventh in Driver Rating over the past five runs at BMS, and he has led 181 laps during the span while running inside the Top 15 in more than two-thirds of his laps.
ON THE DOWN LOW
Stewart-Haas Racing has had a big week with Danica Patrick ($7,100) and the team agreeing to an extension and receiving new sponsorship. However, she isn’t the best option at Bristol since she has just one Top 10 in six career starts with a marginal 22.8 AFP. Teammate and SHR co-owner Tony Stewart ($7,800) is a low-priced option worth your time. He had one of his best runs of the season by finishing sixth in the spring race. While that was just his 10th Top 10 finish in 31 career starts at the track, he starts 40th Saturday night and could pick up a ton of DFS points in place differential, as well as his final finishing position. At this price level, even if he moves up to the 20-25th area he would more than pay for himself as your fifth or sixth driver on DraftKings.
Another low-priced option who could pay big dividends is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,500), who has finished inside the Top 20 in each of his five career starts at Bristol. He leads all drivers with a 9.2 AFP, and while he has never won he has a runner-up finish. Stenhouse finished fourth in the spring race, his finest outing of the season, and he qualified well to start eighth Saturday night. He should be considered a must-start at this price level.
Starting David Ragan ($7,200) at Thunder Valley is a bit of a leap of faith. He qualified tremendously well in his Aaron’s Dream Machine No. 55, and will start on the outside of Row 2. However, despite the outstanding qualifying effort, he has just one Top 10 in 17 career starts with a dismal 24.7 AFP. In fact, the best he has ever finished at Bristol is 10th, so Ragan is a very risky DFS play despite his start practice and qualifying efforts.
Justin Allgaier ($6,000) is another essential part of any high-low DFS lineup strategy. While he doesn’t have a lengthy history at BMS, he has finished inside the Top 20 in each of his three career starts, posting a high of eighth and a low of 19th. His AFP of 14.7 ranks him 10th among all active drivers with at least three starts at the track.
Casey Mears ($7,300) has been a cheap option with upside, especially heading into Michigan last weekend. But he started 40th and actually finished worse, ending up 42nd. He has 25 career starts at Bristol, posting just one Top 10, four Top 20s and a terrible 28.1 AFP while managing five DNFs. He wrecked in the spring race, posting a 36th-place showing and a similar outcome is expected Saturday.