Fantasy NASCAR: The Food City 500
1. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski posted his third-straight Top 5 (third-place) last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In six starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Keselowski has two wins (2011-12) with an Average Finish of 13.7. He led 89 (2011) and 232 laps (2012) in each of his two wins. He qualified second in the August race at the site. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Keselowski ranks fourth in Driver Rating (97.4) and sixth in Average Running Position (13.3). He’s led in every race and has 84 Fastest Laps Run this season. Apparently, he’s taking this title defense thing pretty seriously. Headed into one of his best tracks, Keselowski is an easy choice for Fantasy’s top play.
2. Kyle Busch: After looking good all season, Busch finally closed out a race by finishing fourth at LVMS and leading 27 laps. In 16 starts at Bristol, Busch has five wins (2007, 2009 sweep, 2010-11), seven Top 5s and 11 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 10.3. In his two previous wins, he led 283 (2010) and 153 laps (2011). His best starting position is ninth. Busch leads all competitors in DR (102.3), Laps Led (1,375), Fastest Laps Run (556) and Average Green Flag Speed (114.499 mph). He ranks fifth in ARP (13.0). He’s been historically fantastic at short-track racing and should be penciled into all Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
3. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth led 42 laps en route to his first win of 2013 at LVMS. In 26 BMS starts, Kenseth has two wins (2005, 2006), 10 Top 5s, 17 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 12.1. He’s led at least 25 laps in each of his last three starts. He’s qualified fourth-or-better four times. Kenseth ranks third in DR (99.8) and second in ARP (10.7). He leads all drivers in Quality Passes (451). Aside from a fluky engine failure at Daytona, Kenseth has been fantastic in his first three starts with Joe Gibbs Racing. He will also come at a nice value in most formats.
4. Carl Edwards: Edwards logged 41 Quality Passes in his seventh-place finish at Las Vegas. In 17 starts at BMS, Edwards has two wins (2007, 2008), four Top 5s, seven Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 14.4. He led 45 laps in the August 2012 race at the site. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid four times. Edwards ranks 10th in DR (88.2) and in ARP (14.7). This is the first time Edwards has logged back-to-back Top 10s since April 2012 (Kansas and Texas). His confidence is back and his comfort with crew chief Jimmy Fennig is apparent. Edwards is officially back.
5. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson’s hot start continued with a sixth-place finish and a season-high 66 laps led at LVMS. In 22 Bristol starts, Johnson has one win (2010), seven Top 5s, 13 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish 14.0. He’s led at least 52 laps in seven of his last eight starts. He’s qualified fourth-or-better four times. Johnson ranks sixth in DR (93.8) and fourth in ARP (12.8). He’s been very consistent of late, but is probably worth saving the start in Tiered/Grouping formats. If you need to roll JJ and need a reason, he’s been sizzling hot and will come at a rare solid value this week.
6. Jeff Gordon: Gordon finished 25th at Las Vegas, spending just 58 of 266 Laps in the Top 15. In 40 starts at BMS, Gordon has five wins (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002), 16 Top 5s, 22 Top 10s and five poles with an Average Finish 11.9. He’s led at least one lap in two of his last three starts. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid 23 times. Gordon ranks second in DR (100.7). He leads all drivers in ARP (9.5) and Laps in the Top 15 (6,584). Bristol is one of the tracks where Gordon has insane video game numbers. He’s not the best, as the numbers would have you believe, but he’s a real solid bet for a quality finish.
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior finished seventh at Vegas while running 99% of his laps in the Top 15. In 26 starts at Bristol, Earnhardt Jr. has one win (2004), seven Top 5s and 12 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 11.8. He’s led at least two laps in each of his last two starts. Earnhardt Jr. ranks 11th in DR (87.9) and ninth in ARP (14.0) and he leads all drivers in Green Flag Passes (837). He’s been exactly what I expected – a consistent finisher with upside to fill the stat sheet. Fantasy owners should expect more of the same.
8. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin led three laps in a 15th-place finish at LVMS. In 14 starts at BMS, Hamlin has one win (2012), four Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.8. He led 70 laps in his August 2012 victory. Hamlin ranks eighth in DR (89.8) and 15th in ARP (16.0). He hasn’t been spectacular by any stretch this season, but Hamlin is a guy who can flip the switch at any moment. He’s versatile and will come at a discount in most formats this week.
9. Greg Biffle: The Biff finished a middling 17th with an 18.0 ARP at LVMS. In 20 BMS starts, Biffle has six Top 5s, 11 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 12.2. He’s led 41 laps in each of his last two starts. He qualified in first and third in the 2012 races. Biffle ranks fifth in DR (96.2) and third in ARP (12.4). A win at Bristol has eluded him, but that doesn’t mean Biffle isn’t an effective Fantasy option. His consistency at the site makes him a quality Tiered/Grouping format option.
10. Kasey Kahne: After a rough start to the season, Kahne entered Vegas with the best car but just came up short of win finishing in second. In three starts at Bristol, Kahne has three Top 5s, seven Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 19.2. He led 42 laps in the August 2012 race. He’s started Top Four on the grid three times. Kahne ranks 16th in DR (83.6) and 20th in ARP (18.6). He has an Average Start of sixth on the season and finally broke out of his slump. While not an attractive name at Bristol, Kahne will provide solid value for Fantasy owners willing to roll the dice.
11. Tony Stewart: One win (2001), six Top 5s, eight Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 17.6 in 28 starts at Bristol. 87.7 DR.
12. Kevin Harvick: One win (2005), nine Top 5s and 12 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 12.5 in 24 BMS starts. 89.7 DR.
13. Clint Bowyer: Four Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 17.0 in 14 starts at BMS. 81.5 DR.
14. Martin Truex Jr.: Two Top 5s with an Average Finish of 18.7 in 14 Bristol starts. 81.8 DR.
15. Kurt Busch: Five wins (2002, 2003 sweep, 2004, 2006), six Top 5s, 13 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 13.8 in 24 starts at Bristol. 92.0 DR.
16. Brian Vickers: Logged Top 5s in both 2012 starts at BMS. 65.9 DR.
17. Marcos Ambrose: Finished fifth with one lap led in the August 2012 event. 82.0 DR.
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Finished second with 60 laps led in the August 2012 Nationwide race. DR N/A.
19. Jeff Burton: Fifteen Top 10s in 38 BMS starts. 86.2 DR.
20. Aric Almirola: Finished 10th in the March 2008 race. 60.3 DR.
21. Ryan Newman: 86.9 DR.
22. Juan Pablo Montoya: 79.0.
23. Joey Logano: 73.2.
24. Paul Menard: 69.6.
25. A.J. Allmendinger: 64.1.
26. David Reutimann
27. Jamie McMurray
28. Bobby Labonte
29. David Ragan
30. Danica Patrick