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Statistically Speaking

Weekend Update: Bristol

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Bristol is a rhythm track.

The Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway also has an enhanced schedule with only one day of practice (mostly during the day) followed by a race at night.

There is not a lot time to work on the car for the drivers. Nor is there a lot of time for fantasy owners to make decisions. That is one of the reasons we clasify this as a rhythm track. It pays to roll off the hauler quick – and that is one of the reasons players need to pay attention to drivers who top the leaderboards and qualify well.

Practice

Martin Truex Jr. is still looking for his first short track win and that has seemed to impact the way he approaches the race. Couple that with the fact that he does not need the points for a good finish and he has a strong incentive to go for broke this week. High risk often results in high reward; it occasionally ends on the back of a wrecker. However, Truex earned the quickest 10-lap average in the morning session and could challenge for the win if there is a long green flag segment. If he gets to the top five, he will add a lot of place differential points to his total.

Kyle Larson had the quickest 10-lap average in Happy Hour. Coupled with his pole winning run, he has the potential to scoot out to a lead and run away from the field. He will likely be one of the first drivers who will get to the top groove. That means he should be able to manage traffic better than the competition. Larson's greatest potential this week is for players who are willing to take a risk and bet that he - instead of the No. 18 - will win all three segments and the race. If he does, you could be 60 bonus points over most of the competition in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game. 

The Joe Gibbs Racing teamamtes Kyle Busch and Erik Jones landed second on the 10-lap average charts in the morning and final sessions respectively. They put on a showcase last year in this race and these speeds indicate they will run well again in 2018. Jones makes a great dark horse pick. Busch remains one of the favorites.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third on the 10-lap averages in both sessions. He has a stellar record on this track with top-five finishes in four of the last nine Bristol races. He has been one of the media darlings in terms of his dark horse status to win the race outright. All of this would make him one of the best differentiators in the race if not for the matter of his Coke Zero 400 performance. In a similar situation, he drove way over his head and wrecked more than half the field. Similary actions at Bristol, will be met with immediate retribution and Stenhouse could end the night in the garage. 

Qualification

Larson wants to sweep the weekend. He's off to a great start because he swept all three stages of qualification. He won the Xfinity race Saturday night, so he's been perfect so far this weekend. It has to be noted that Kyle Busch crashed out of Friday night's race, however, and he is going to be Busch's biggest competition tonight.

Busch qualified third and if the first 23 races of the season are any indication, he is going to grab the lead early and dominate the stats. There will come a time when the remainder of the field catches up to Busch and the other members 0f the Big 3, however, and this could be the race in which that happens. On the other hand, folks have gone broke betting against The Dominators.

Chase Elliott does not have the kind of record on this track that made fantasy owners pay a lot of attention at the start of the week. He's ranked fifth in this week's Cheat Sheets, but that was based on his recent momentum. He rolled off the hauler fast and had the best time in Friday morning's session. He backed that up with an outside pole run in qualification and has everyone's attention. With only one previous Bristol top-five, it is hard to recommend him and he is likely to lose place -ifferential points. There is a reason they run the race, however, and Elliott could be this week's most pleasant surprise. 

Joey Logano got hung up behind traffic and failed to advance to the final round of qualification. He will start deep in the field in 19th, but that could be a hidden advantage in games that offer place-differential points. Logano has a record that suggests he is going to be a top-10 contender. Unfortunately, he does not have the weekend statistics one would hope for. He was only 21st quickest (in 10-lap averages) of 25 drivers in the morning session and 26th of 32 in Happy Hour.

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.