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Alex Bowman
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NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: Food City 500

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: April 2, 2019, 11:53 am ET

For the longest time, we grouped Bristol Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway together as high-banked, concrete ovals. So much has happened to reconfigure the half-mile course in the past several years, however, that there is truly no comparative. Fantasy players need to concentrate only on what has happened at this Coliseum of Speed and make picks based on that historic record.

There have been some incredibly long top-10 streaks on this course, but in today’s Age of Parity, those are becoming shorter. Entering this week’s Food City 500, only two drivers have a streak longer than two races. Kevin Harvick has seven consecutive top-10s including a win in 2016. Kyle Larson has four straight top-10s with a pair of runner-up finishes. Neither of those drivers is included in this week’s must-haves, however, because they have not been up to par in 2019.


Kyle Busch
Last week, Busch showed what happens when he gets up on the wheel too much. He slapped the wall while trying to make up the ground he lost when he got loose. The same thing could happen at Bristol, but this is a track on which teams fortify the cars for just such an occasion. Busch has been great on short tracks during the past couple of years with five wins and three more top-fives in his last 10 races. He won back-to-back races in Fall 2017/Spring 2018. There is a caveat, however, in that his three attempts immediately preceding that were all in the 30s.

Chase Elliott
Elliott sustained crash damage in this race last year and lost more than 25 laps. He recovered in the August Bristol race to finish third, however. The good news is that his 29th-place finish on these high banks are the only time in the past two years that he failed to crack the top 10 on any of NASCAR’s short tracks. Four of his last five races have been top-fives. Last year he finished second at Richmond Raceway. He was second a couple of weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway and we believe he could easily get another top-five.

Clint Bowyer
Bowyer is another driver who has been almost perfect in regard to top-10s on short tracks in the last two years. His only stumble came at Martinsville last Fall with a 21st, which means he swept the top 10 at Bristol. Encouraged by a solid run last week in Texas, he is in the right frame of mine to stay with the leaders for 500 laps of intense competition. Bowyer has been a little hit or miss this season. As a result, he will likely be underutilized this week by the competition. Last year, he earned Segment points on three occasions for a total of 21.

Joey Logano
Last week was the second consecutive week that something went wrong for Logano. After winning the pole at Martinsville, he lost the handle in the closing laps and battled to stay on the lead lap. A broken hood brace insured that he did not make the distance at Texas and he finished one circuit off the lead. Back-to-back results outside the top 15 should be enough to satisfy Fate and he should be back among the leaders this week. Bristol has been a great track for Logano with victories in 2014 and 2015. He’s finished outside the top 10 only once in his last seven races on this high-banked concrete course and that was a 13th in Fall 2017.

Daniel Suarez
With his first top-five in the books at Stewart-Haas Racing, Suarez is ready to take his place alongside his teammates near the front of the pack again this week. He has a better reputation on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, but he has also been solid on courses less than a mile in length with back-to-back top-10s at Martinsville. Granted, Bristol is a lot different than its flat cousin, but he has been consistent on this track with four results of 11th through 18th. It’s time for a career-best result and if he earns it, he will differentiate your roster in a major way from the competition.  

Value Pick

Alex Bowman
Bristol has not always been Bowman’s best track, but he returned to it as a Hendrick Motorsports driver with a vengeance last year and swept the top 10. He finished fifth in the Food City 500 and was eighth in the Night Race at Bristol. If anything, he and the organization is better this year than last. As the faces at the front of the pack start to change, Bowman is one of the drivers fantasy owners want to keep an eye on. He missed the top 10 at Martinsville a few weeks ago, but not by much with a 14th-place finish. His worst effort on short tracks in the past two years was an 18th, and that gives the team a good set of notes from which to work.  

Garage Pick

Kyle Larson
We want to get excited about Larson. He finished second in both races last year after sweeping the top 10 in 2017. He just doesn’t seem to have the power at his disposal in 2019 to overcome what appears to be an increasing number of mistakes and misfortunes. He has scored Stage points in all eight previous Bristol segments since NASCAR instituted this rule and that could add to his total in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game. Players have until the Lap 250 mark to decide in Larson should be activated.

Red Flag

Brad Keselowski
This week, you will hear the announcers talk about Keselowski’s good record at Bristol. He won back-to-back races and has another couple of top-three finishes to his credit on this high-banked course. What you may not hear is that the last of these came in 2014 and in eight races since then, he has only one top-10 – a sixth in 2015. Over the past three seasons, his average at Bristol is 25.5. He has not finished on the lead lap in the past five races. And while many of his poor finishes are the result of crash damage, that is an inevitable part of racing at Bristol.

 

2019 Segment wins and points

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning points

Segment
Wins

Joey Logano

78

13

2

Ryan Blaney

78

11

2

Kyle Busch

69

10

4

Kevin Harvick

69

11

2

Denny Hamlin

68

11

1

Aric Almirola

53

8

 

Brad Keselowski

44

6

2

Martin Truex Jr.

42

7

 

Chase Elliott

41

9

 

Daniel Suarez

32

7

 

Kyle Larson

29

5

1

Jimmie Johnson

20

6

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20

5

 

Clint Bowyer

19

5

 

Erik Jones

18

5

 

Alex Bowman

18

3

 

Kurt Busch

15

4

 

William Byron

15

3

 

Austin Dillon

12

3

 

Paul Menard

11

2

 

Ryan Newman

10

2

 

Matt DiBenedetto

5

1

 

Michael McDowell

2

1

 

Chris Buescher

1

1

 

Daniel Hemric

1

1

 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.