Here's who could shine under the lights in Thunder Valley
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads back to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. Thunder Valley's annual August slugfest is one of three regular-season races left on the schedule.
In the series’ first stop at the half-mile track, Kyle Busch found his way to Victory Lane for the second time this season. The green flag flies Saturday (Aug. 18) at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
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FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 200-lap race will only have a total of 20.0 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on midpack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
ELITE TIER: $11,100 and up
Kyle Busch ($13,500)
Bristol: 26 starts, seven wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 14.0
Busch is looking for his seventh win of the season this weekend. Seven is also the exact number of races he has won at Bristol over his career. This includes a win in the spring race earlier this season where he led 117 laps.
Busch is priced incredibly high this week on FanDuel, but that shouldn't matter too much. Bristol is a track where even the backmarker teams can set season-high finishes, which could pair nicely with Busch in a lineup.
Kevin Harvick ($13,000)
Bristol: 35 starts, two wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 13.3
Harvick is red hot at the moment, winning two of the last four races. He is also the series leader in race wins with seven. His dominance at Michigan International Speedway last weekend showed just how far ahead of the field his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team is at the moment.
Harvick’s last Bristol win came in 2016. He started 24th and led 128 laps. But he's earned six straight top-10 finishes there and should put up another one on your roster.
Kyle Larson ($12,000)
Bristol: Nine starts, one top five, five top 10sa
Average finish at Bristol: 16.2
Larson was the runner-up in the spring Bristol race, but led 200 of the available 500 laps. That was the second time in three Bristol races that he led at least 200 laps. He has finished inside the top 10 in the last three races at the track.
Larson dirt track background sets him up perfectly for the close quarters, slippery surface that is Bristol. He has become one of the elites when talking about the track and will be a popular pick this weekend.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,900 - $11,000
Jimmie Johnson ($9,800)
Bristol: 33 starts, two wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 13.3
This season has been an up-and-down campaign for the seven-time series champion. Luckily, one of those up moments came at Bristol back in the spring. Even though Johnson qualified outside the top 15, he managed to fight his way through the field up to a third-place finish. That result was the first of only two top-five performances he has this season. It was also his season-best result to date.
Johnson has great recent history at Bristol. He won here in the spring of 2017 and has finished 11th or better in the last eight races at the track. This weekend could be a good time to pick up Johnson while he is on the cheaper side.
Ryan Blaney ($9,600)
Bristol: Six starts, one top 10
Average finish at Bristol: 24.3
With the Kyles finishing first and second and leading over 300 laps between the two at Bristol this spring, it can go overlooked that Blaney had the best car that day. He was running away with the race lead, looking for his first 2018 win before getting caught up in a lapped-traffic crash. The wreck ended Blaney's day immediately and crushed any hopes of a win.
If he can match that performance and stay out of trouble, Blaney can be a shoo-in for the underdog pick to win this weekend.
Daniel Suarez ($9,400)
Bristol: Three starts, two top 15s
Average finish at Bristol: 14.7
Suarez continued his climb toward becoming a winning driver this past week at Michigan. He had to start last after wrecking in qualifying but quickly moved through the field. He ended the day in 11th and even added five laps led over the course of green-flag pit cycles.
It is only a matter of time before the No. 19 team finds its way to Victory Lane. He has an average finish of 5.7 over the last three races; will Bristol be the race?
Erik Jones ($9,200)
Bristol: Three starts, one top five, one top 10
Average finish at Bristol: 15.0
Jones has been dominant at Bristol in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and showed flashes of taking it to the same level on the Cup side in this race last season. He won the pole, then had the lead late in the race before being chased down by Kyle Busch. Jones led an impressive 260 laps in what was almost his first career win.
An early wreck in the spring Bristol race ended any hope of following up on that promising run. But much like his teammate Suarez, Jones has been running with the best of them over the past few races. Some bad luck caught up to him at Michigan last week, but that shouldn't have any effect on this weekend's outlook.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,800 and below
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,500)
Bristol: 11 starts, four top fives, six top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 10.2
Stenhouse is a poor man's Kyle Larson when it comes to Bristol, but he has the better race history. He has a similar driving style and on-track aggression but is in lesser equipment. Nonetheless, the results for Stenhouse at the half-mile track have been great and he is severely underpriced this weekend on FanDuel.
Over 11 career Bristol starts, Stenhouse has an average finish of 10.2. He has been runner-up twice and also finished fourth after starting fourth earlier this season. Pencil him into lineups now.
(Top photo courtesy of NASCAR.com)