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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Night Race at Bristol Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: August 14, 2019, 3:13 pm ET

Short tracks can be difficult to predict. On the bullring of Bristol Motor Speedway, there are less than a handful of drivers in the past few years with consecutive top-fives and they can be seen prominently among this week’s top-10 in our handicap.

But this is a track on which danger lurks at every turn. With lap times in about the 15 second range, it doesn’t take much of a bobble to get into trouble – and once a wreck starts, there is a very short period of time to react for anyone on the track.

While Bristol plays by its own rules, it is one of three short tracks NASCAR currently visits. There is a commonality among these courses because drivers are constantly in traffic and that calls for patient aggression. The marquee drivers typically run well on these tracks the same as they do on unrestricted, intermediate speedways.

There are others, however, who have surprisingly scored consecutive top-15s so far this year and as the regular season winds down they will become increasingly important in allocation management contests. A Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, or Ty Dillon might not win your contest outright, but coupled with some difficulty for name brands like Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, or Martin Truex Jr.—if that occurs—they could be major differentiators with minimal risk.


1. Kyle Busch
Once again it is hard to bet against Busch. He won the spring Food City 500, which is one of six victories on short tracks in the last 12 races.

2. Denny Hamlin
While he may not be the first driver who comes to mind at Bristol, Hamlin finished fifth there in the spring and has a win as recently as 2012. He's also riding the longest current top-five streak of the season.

3. Joey Logano
Logano won the 2014 Night Race and has finished outside the top 10 only twice in the nine races that followed on this track. One of these was a top-15.

4. Ryan Blaney
Blaney got off to a great start in the 2019 short track season with fourth-place finishes at both Martinsville and Bristol. For the moment, consider Richmond's 25th an anomaly.

5. Kurt Busch
Each of the short tracks have their own characteristics, so while Busch has not been particularly strong at Martinsville or Richmond, it is impossible to overlook his recent record at Bristol where he won last year and finished second this spring.

6. Kevin Harvick
Harvick has been incredibly strong on short tracks, but his recent efforts at Bristol suggest he is more likely to finish just outside of the top five.

7. Clint Bowyer
This should be the week that allows Bowyer to get the monkey off his back. He enters Bristol with nine short track top-10s in his last 10 attempts.

8. Kyle Larson
Now that he seems to have turned a corner, Larson could contend for a top-10 once more on the short tracks. Last year, he had four consecutive results in that range - including a pair of runner-up finishes at Bristol.

9. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex won the most recent short track race at Richmond and he has four results of eighth or better in his last five attempts on this track type. Two of his previous three attempts were in the 30s, however.

10. Erik Jones
Bristol was the sight of one of Jones' first great opportunities to win in his rookie season. Unfortunately, he has finished among the top 10 only twice more in the next 11 races. One of these was a fifth in last year's edition of this race.

11. Chase Elliott
Avoid the hype surrounding Elliott's two most recent races and concentrate on his Bristol record. On this bullring, he finishes outside the top 10 more often than inside that mark.

12. William Byron
This could be the week that Byron finally cracks the top 10 on a short track. In three starts this year, he's gotten progressively better with a 13th at Richmond as his most recent result.

13. Brad Keselowski
While he has some strong runs on short tracks - including a win at Martinsville this spring - Keselowski is almost as likely to finish outside the top 10 on a short track as inside that mark since 2016.

14. Aric Almirola
Despite a lot of consistency throughout the season, there have been some negative turning points for Almirola and two of them came on short tracks. If he stays out of trouble, look for a top-15.

15. Daniel Suarez
One of the topics we keep coming back to is consistency. In 15 attempts on short tracks during his career, Suarez has finished between seventh and 18th 14 times.

16. Paul Menard
If you are looking for a differentiator to your lineup and willing to take a solid result in the mid-teens, you should note that Menard has swept the top 15 on short tracks so far this year.

17. Austin Dillon
There have been several surprising values on short tracks this year. Dillon is one of those with a sweep of the top 15 in three races on tracks less than a mile in length. His best effort netted a sixth at Richmond.

18. Ty Dillon
Keep an especially sharp eye out for Dillon this week. In his last four short track races, he has scored three top-15s and a 21st.

19. Alex Bowman
Last year Bowman scored three top-10s in six short track races. This season, he's missed that mark every time with a best of 14th at Martinsville.

20. Jimmie Johnson
Nearly all of Johnson's results on short tracks in the past four seasons have landed inside the top 15. He will need to avoid the temptation to overdrive this week if he wants to score another.

21. Ryan Newman
With Newman concentrating on the playoffs, his results should only improve. He could be a surprise top-10 finisher this week with three such results in his last four attempts on short tracks.

22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
With top-10s in nearly half of his starts, Stenhouse has developed an affinity for Bristol. Like so many drivers this week, his ultimate result will be tied to his ability to stay out of trouble.

23. Ryan Preece
Rookies are more closely associated with their racing roots than veterans, which might account for the fact the Preece has swept the top 25 in three short track races this year.

24. Chris Buescher
It's difficult to ignore this kind of consistency: Buescher has finished 21st or 22nd in three short track races of 2019.

25. Matt DiBenedetto
On the whole, it appears that DiBenedetto is improving on short tracks in his new ride. It's too soon to tell if his recent surge in results will carry over to the bullrings, however.

26. Daniel Hemric
Hemric scored his first short track top-20 in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, but his two previous attempts landed outside the top 25.

27. David Ragan
Will fantasy owners see Ragan in a different light beginning this week now that he has announced his retirement from fulltime racing? His short time status could actually improve his results.

28. Bubba Wallace
In order to score a top-20, Wallace will need to avoid conflict on the track. He did that at Martinsville this spring to finish 17th and at Bristol with a 20th.

29. Matt Tifft
Tifft could be one of this week's best surprises. In three starts on short tracks this year, he has swept the top 30 with a best of 27th at Bristol.

30. Michael McDowell
Short tracks are not necessarily where you will find McDowell to be the best value. In three races this year he has not yet cracked the top 25 - although he came closest at Bristol with his 28th.

31. Landon Cassill
In his first two short track starts this season, Cassill broke into the top 30 with a best of 26th in the Food City 500 at Bristol. He's looking for lightning to strike twice.

32. Corey LaJoie
With a little luck on his side, LaJoie could challenge for a result in the 20s. In his most recent attempt at Richmond, he came up one position short of earning a top-25.

33. Ross Chastain
Look for Chastain to land somewhere around 30th this week. He was 29th in the Food City 500 at Bristol and 30th in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond one week later.

34. JJ Yeley
Rick Ware Racing will roll out a fourth car on a track that is easily one of the fan favorites. If Yeley can stay out of trouble, he could even challenge for a top-30.

35. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson missed the spring Food City 500, but he made both Bristol bashes in 2018 and scored results of 32nd and 33rd.

36. BJ McLeod
McLeod's ultimate result will come as the result of the amount of attrition, which is true of the bottom five drivers this week. His best result was a 29th at Charlotte - a race with a high damage count.

37. Josh Bilicki
In four starts this season, Bilicki has a best finish of 32nd and a pair of 33rds. He has not faced anything like what he will see this week at Bristol, however.

38. Quin Houff
This will be Houff's third attempt on one of the Cup short tracks. His best effort netted a 32nd in the first Bristol race this spring.

39. Bayley Currey
He has made only two starts, but Currey has been consistent on the short tracks this year with a 31st at Bristol and 32nd at Richmond.

 

Drivers Most Accurately
Predicted This Year

 

Avg.
Difference

Times
Within 3

 

David Ragan

4.4

9

Landon Cassill

4.4

14

Martin Truex Jr.

4.9

11

Matt Tifft

5.1

13

Paul Menard

5.3

10

Ty Dillon

5.4

11

Denny Hamlin

5.7

16

Ryan Newman

5.8

10

Kyle Busch

5.9

9

Kevin Harvick

6.1

11

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.