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Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Start or Park: Food City 500

Friday, April 13, 2018


It’s Bristol Baby. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. on NBC’s NASCAR America every Wednesday, that quote from his first win on this track has been often repeated – and it sums up the feeling of this track. Nothing compares.

Drivers lap the field in less than 15 seconds, which is a recipe for disaster and excitement at the same time. The leader is almost constantly in traffic, so any mistake anywhere around the course has the potential to radically alter the lineup.

Because this track is so unpredictable, only three drivers swept the top 10 on it last year. That means fantasy players have to look deeper in the pack for their favorites.

Level One

Start Joey Logano
From 2012 through 2015, Joey Logano was much stronger under the lights than in the spring. He recorded four straight top-10s in the fall and won two of those. His second victory came in 2015 and that kicked off a streak of four consecutive top-10s that ended last fall. He fell to 13th, but still has a five-race average of 7.8

Start Kyle Busch
The last several years have not been great for Kyle Busch. His average finish in the six events leading up to last fall’s Night Race at Bristol included four results outside the top 25 and an average of 30.8. He won that race, however – his sixth during his career – and with another victory last week in Texas, he finally has the second-place monkey off his back.

Park Kevin Harvick
It’s too soon to push the panic button, but little differences have a huge impact on short tracks and the difference among the 10 strongest drivers each week is often nominal. Kevin Harvick broke a suspension part halfway through the first practice session for this week’s race. He pounded the wall hard enough to necessitate rolling out a backup and that is going to put him in the rear to start.

Level Two

Start Jamie McMurray
Largely because of his solid run last week at Texas when Jamie McMurray jumped back into the top 10 for this time this year, we are going to wave a green flag over him. McMurray’s lauded consistency from 2017 has been lacking from the start of this season, but his spirit should be renewed with a third-place finish. That makes his current seven-race, top-15 streak incredibly meaningful.

Start Roush-Fenway Racing
This week might be a good time to roll out a couple of dark horses. McMurray fits the bill as do both Roush-Fenway Racing teammates.

Last week we highlighted Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as a driver to start and he was running in the top 10 – partly because of the high attrition in that race – until a mechanical issue sidelined him. This week, he has a Bristol record of eight top-16 finishes in 10 career races.

Teammate Trevor Bayne has a current five-race streak of top-15s to his credit at Bristol.

Park Aric Almirola
Given the strong start to the season at Stewart-Haas Racing, we’ve been reluctant to wave the red flag over Aric Almirola, but Bristol has not been particularly kind in recent years. Two of his last four attempts ended outside the top 30 and another is worse than 20th. If one goes back to 2015, he has a couple of decent runs – but still has only two top-15s in the past three years.  

Level Three

Start Ty Dillon
If a player takes dark horses from the middle tier, there is not going to be a lot of incentive to go this deep in the field. And that’s a good thing because the bargain basement does not have a lot of options. Ty Dillon is one of the few affordable drivers who managed to score a top-15 on the bullring last year. That came in the spring and he was unable to back it up after getting sidelined by a wreck in the fall.

Start David Ragan
David Ragan could not quite make his way into the top 15 in either Bristol race last year, but he came close with a 17th in the fall. Equally important, he was only one lap off the pace and might have been gifted a better result if he had received a Wave Around or Free Pass.

Previous Start or Parks

STP 500 (Martinsville) 
O'Reilly 500 (Texas) 
Auto Club 400 
TicketGuardian 500 (Phoenix) 
Pennzoil 400 (Las Vegas) 



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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