Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Food City 500 Cheat Sheet

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Last week’s chaotic O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway resulted in one of the worst outcomes for the Cheat Sheets all year – second only to the wild card Daytona 500 – but that will happen when most of the favorites experience tire-related accidents.

Compounding the issue, the high attrition allowed several drivers to score much better results than they would have otherwise and 15-place swings among the back markers killed the overall average.

Just like the racers themselves, it pays to have a short memory in Fantasy NASCAR, so it’s time to recalibrate and set the lineups for this week’s Food City 500.

1. Kyle Busch
Now that he has the winless monkey off his back, the sky is the limit for Busch. Bristol is one of his better tracks with six wins in 25 starts, including one last fall.

2. Joey Logano
With back-to-back wins in the fall races of 2014/2015, Logano may be a little disappointed with his recent results. Fantasy players won't be: he finished 13th or better in his last four attempts on this bullring

3. Kevin Harvick
Four of Harvick's last six short track races ended in top-fives and another was an eighth at Bristol. This is not his best track, but it's impossible to discount momentum.

4. Denny Hamlin
If Hamlin got his bad luck out of the way last week, this could be a good weekend for him. Three of his last five Bristol races ended in third-place finishes.

5. Chase Elliott
For some reason, Elliott is better in the spring at Bristol with back-to-back top-10s; his fall races on this track ended in results of 15th and 18th, however.

6. Erik Jones
Last fall's Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol was Jones' best opportunity to win a Cup race. He will remember how that feels this spring with another top-10.

7. Kurt Busch
In nearly all of his Bristol attempts during the past six years, Busch has either finished in the top five or outside the top 15. That makes him incredibly hard to handicap.

8. Martin Truex Jr.
Last week's accident will be put behind Truex before the green flag waves over Bristol, but he still has only one top-10 in his last 11 races there.

9. Ryan Blaney
With only one top-10 to his credit at Bristol, it is going to take some faith to start Blaney. Team Penske has been incredibly strong this year, however.

10. Clint Bowyer
As the most recent winner on a short track, Bowyer is going to be incredibly popular this week. A second in last spring's Food City 500 doesn't hurt matters either.

11. Kyle Larson
In his rookie season at Bristol, Larson finished 10th and 12th. Last year, he swept the top 10, but he is still looking for his first career top-five on the bullring.

12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
This has actually been one of Stenhouse's better tracks with a pair of runner-up finishes and an average of about 11th in 10 Bristol starts.

13. Jamie McMurray
Perhaps it's time to start thinking about McMurray again after his third-place finish in the O'Reilly 500; at Bristol, he has an active, seven-race streak of top-15s.

14. Ryan Newman
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Newman has finished in the top 10 four times and has another top-15 to his credit.

15. Trevor Bayne
This could be a track on which Roush-Fenway Racing regains their mojo. Both Bayne and teammate Stenhouse have incredible streaks of top-15s at Bristol.

16. Alex Bowman
There is a lot of pressure on Bowman to perform. Bristol is not a track where drivers want to come in need of a solid run.

17. Brad Keselowski
That Keselowski can run well on this track is not in question. He won back-to-back Bristol races in 2011/2012, but his last six attempts all ended outside the top 15

18. Paul Menard
Even though Menard has taken over the No. 21, there is not enough history of success with former driver Blaney at Bristol to make this team a good value.

19. Jimmie Johnson
Until this team finally gets all of their bad luck behind them, leave Johnson in the garage no matter how well his stats and skills lines up with the track.

20. Kasey Kahne
Bristol rewards driver skill to a greater degree than most other tracks and that could be the equalizer Kahne is looking for.

21. William Byron
Bristol is not typically kind to rookies and so far in 2018, Byron has not set himself apart as a driver who is impervious to mistakes.

22. Daniel Suarez
Suarez has been cleared to race this week, but a broken thumb is going to be a distraction on a track as tough as Bristol.

23. Austin Dillon
In the past two years, Dillon's results have been all over the board with one top-10, a result in the teens, a 20-something, and a 30-something effort.

24. Aric Almirola
The Stewart-Haas Racing organization is among the strongest in the field each week, but Almirola has only two Bristol top-15s in the past six races there.

25. AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger is strong on short tracks as evidenced by his Martinsville run, but Allmendinger has only one Bristol top-10 in 19 starts.

26. Chris Buescher
One of the most dramatic dark horse efforts in recent years was posted by Buescher in fall 2016 when he finished fifth in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race.

27. Darrell Wallace Jr.
His top-10 at Texas last week was a boost in the arm for Wallace, but Bristol does not care what a driver has done on another track.

28. Ty Dillon
Bristol can be a difficult track on a driver's emotions. Dillon finished 15th there last spring and was 36th in the fall. Split the difference and expect a result in the mid-20s.

29. Matt DiBenedetto
Anything can happen on a wild card track like Bristol, Matt DiBenedetto scored a top-10 in spring 2016, but his average on this track is 20th.

30. Michael McDowell
Bristol is a driver's track and that means McDowell can make a difference behind the wheel. Of course, there are 38 other drivers who feel the same way this week.

31. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson could be one of the drivers to watch this week. Now that he is showing up to every race, his traditional results are meaningful and he has two finishes in the high-20s in recent Bristol events.

32. David Ragan
When he finished 17th in last fall's Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol, Ragan notched his best finish on this track in four years. Most have been outside the top 20, however.

33. Gray Gaulding
Gaulding will make his ninth consecutive short track start this week, but don't expect miracles. His career best in the Cup series on this track type is a 29th at Bristol last fall

34. Landon Cassill
In similar equipment last year, Cassill finished 32nd in the spring at Bristol and was 35th in the fall. It will take some attrition to achieve a better result this year.

35. Ross Chastain
Fresh off a career-best finish of 18th last week, Chastain is ready to go at Bristol, but this track is going to provide a rude awakening for him.

36. Corey LaJoie
In two previous starts with this team in 2018, Lajoie experienced engine trouble both times. This week, expect him to go the distance but only make up positions due to attrition.

37. Harrison Rhodes
Rhodes will make his fourth Cup start this week. Only one of the previous attempts came on a short track and he was less than stellar at Martinsville a few weeks ago.

38. Chad Finchum
With a single win in the K&N East series that came at Bristol in 2016, Finchum is getting an opportunity to race with the big boys this week.

39. DJ Kennington
This will be Kennington's first attempt in the Cup series at Bristol and he is going to be ill-prepared for what it holds. His last short track race ended in a 28th at Martinsville, however.

Previous Cheat Sheets

STP 500 (Martinsville) 
O'Reilly 500 (Texas) 
TicketGuardian 500 (Phoenix) 
Auto Club 400 
QuikTrip 500 (Atlanta)

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver

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