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DraftKings NASCAR: Food City 500

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Food City 500

Location: Bristol, Tenn.
Course: Bristol Motor Speedway
Format: 0.5-mile oval
Laps: 500

Race Preview

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series took a well-deserved break last week after a frantic start to the season. Jimmie Johnson kickstarted his title defense with a win in the most recent race at Texas, but Kyle Larson held his position on top of the point standings with another runner-up finish. Fantasy owners will need to evaluate which drivers will leverage the off week to step up their games and which drivers may have lost momentum with the week off. The tight confines of Bristol Motor Speedway awaits drivers this week. Toyota has just one win so far this season, but Joe Gibbs Racing has been close. The team won the last two spring Bristol races with Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth at the wheel. Kyle Busch went into the break as the most likely to earn the breakthrough for the organization, but he’ll have to overcome the Ford-powered teams to complete the job. His effort at the last short track, Martinsville Speedway, was nothing shy of dominant, but he still didn't get the win. Ford won that race with Brad Keselowski and the marque has won three of the last six Bristol races, too. Chevrolet won with Kevin Harvick here in the fall.

Key Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

Number of previous races: 112
Winners from pole: 24
Winners from top-5 starters: 65
Winners from top-10 starters: 89
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 6
Fastest race: 104.589 mph

Last 10 Bristol Winners

2016 fall - Kevin Harvick
2016 spring - Carl Edwards
2015 fall - Joey Logano
2015 spring - Matt Kenseth
2014 fall - Joey Logano
2014 spring - Carl Edwards
2013 fall - Matt Kenseth
2013 spring - Kasey Kahne
2012 fall - Denny Hamlin
2012 spring - Brad Keselowski

Qualifying and early speed is imperative to having a good weekend at Bristol. More than half of the victors at the track have started inside the top five. Track position is exceptionally important on the short circuit, and creative pit strategy will be necessary as drivers battle in the opening segments of the race. All teams will be hunting for the perfect setup that will make their car the fastest in the final segment. The inside groove used to be the preferred line through the turns, but recent races have seen the line move further up the banking. Passing can be done on the inside or outside, but racing down the straights and braking later than the other cars into turn entry will still be the easiest way to maintain momentum. Another key to having a strong race on Sunday will be avoiding mistakes on pit road. Trouble with the long pit-road entry and short laps could mean losing a lap or more to the leaders. The race usually features plenty of caution periods, which enables crews to get creative with strategy, but every gamble will be taken with track position in mind.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Brad Keselowski - $10,300
Kyle Larson - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $9,500
Chase Elliott - $9,400
Matt Kenseth - $9,100
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,600
Clint Bowyer - $8,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Erik jones - $8,000
Kurt Busch - $7,700
Austin Dillon - $7,300

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,100
Daniel Suarez - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,700
A.J. Allmendinger - $6,500

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Matt Kenseth - $9,100
Ryan Blaney - $8,200
Kurt Busch - $7,700
Austin Dillon - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,100

Kyle Busch boasts five Bristol wins, and by all accounts should have at least one victory so far this season. It would be hard to imagine him being kept out of Victory Lane too much longer, and Bristol is the track he seems most likely to make the breakthrough. One of the best drivers with the cheapest price this week is Busch's teammate Kenseth. It has been a quiet start to the year, but Kenseth has four Bristol wins. The last three races at the track have been tough finishes, but he led 142 laps in this race last year. Blaney continues to impress early in 2017. He finished 11th in this race last season, and it would be easy to expect a top-10 from him this week. Things have slowed a bit since Kurt Busch's Daytona 500 win. He only has two top-10s since that win, but one was last time out in Texas. He is also a five-time Bristol victor. Dillon has been consistently improving at Bristol, and he finished fourth at the track last fall. He has three top-15 finishes here in the last four races. Bristol has always been a good spot for Stenhouse. When fantasy players add his Martinsville top-10 to his three top-fives in eight Bristol starts he becomes a very attractive option for rosters.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,000
Chase Elliott - $9,400
Clint Bowyer - $8,400
Jamie McMurray - $8,000
Ryan Newman - $7,500
Chris Buescher - $6,700

Logano leads the higher-risk lineup option having yet to find Victory Lane this season. However, he does have four top-fives from the last seven races as well as four top-10s from the last five Bristol races including two wins. It’s hard to imagine Elliott not getting his first series win this year, but he hasn't gotten the job done yet. He adapted to Bristol really quickly as a rookie, however. He scored a top-five there in his first try and led 14 laps en route to a 15th-place finish there in the fall. Stewart Haas Racing has given Clint Bowyer a renaissance, and he should put his newfound confidence to good use at one of his best tracks. His average Bristol finish is 15.7 from 22 career starts despite a 31st-place showing last fall. McMurray is another driver enjoying a turn in fortune. He has been competitive this season with four top-10 finishes. He hasn't finished outside of the top 15 at this track in any of the last five races either. Newman can always be a threat on short tracks, and he has three top-10s from the last four Bristol races padding his resume this week. Finally, Buescher's Martinsville performance should give fantasy players something to think about this week. He finished 11th after starting 33rd that afternoon, and his fifth-place at Bristol last fall proves he is apt to outperform expectations on these types tracks.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.