The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Saturday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings Bass Pro Shops Night Race slate locks at 7:45 p.m. ET on Saturday.
1. Kyle Larson ($11,300) — Before his tenure at Hendrick, Larson was an exciting driver that made a lot of noise but often could not close in Chip Ganassi equipment. Hendrick Motorsports has elevated the flashy driver to a finisher. Bristol has been his flashiest track — he finished runner-up to Kyle Busch in his first Bristol Xfinity race — but he’s never closed in a Cup race at Bristol.
2. Kyle Busch ($11,500) — The spring Bristol race fell in his lap, but he made the right moves throughout the race. In the fall race, Busch dominated the first half of the race, but gave way to Harvick in the second half. The two battled to the checkered flag and Harvick edged him out by a car length.
3. Kevin Harvick ($9,000) — Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick ripped the high line better than anyone last fall at Bristol. Harvick passed Busch just a little over the halfway mark and never relinquished the lead.
4. Alex Bowman ($8,000) — His Bristol results have been underwhelming, but he’s been great at Bristol’s sister track, Dover. Bowman will have a great car and a great pit crew, and that allowed him to win two high horsepower races earlier this season.
5. Denny Hamlin ($10,800) — Three of the JGR Toyotas were forced to start in the back last fall at Bristol. Two finished inside the top 3. Hamlin and Truex did not, but both dealt with a series of issues including Hamlin rear ending Truex.
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6. Chase Elliott ($10,500) — Let the debate begin. Which data point is the most predictive for this weekend. Last fall’s Bristol race or the Dover race several months ago. Elliott finished seventh at Bristol, but he finished third at Dover with his Hendrick teammates holding all of the top four positions.
7. Christopher Bell ($8,800) — The No. 20 JGR Toyota nearly won this race last season with Erik Jones driving. Adams Stevens nearly won the night race at Bristol as Kyle Busch’s crew chief. Stevens did win the spring race and Bell has won at Bristol in the Xfinity Series.
8. Martin Truex Jr ($9,900) — During stage 2, he was forced to make a green flag pit stop due to a loose wheel. After coming off pit road, Denny Hamlin ran into him. It just wasn’t his day, but it never seems to be his day at a track where he should be more successful.
9. William Byron ($9,200) — Last fall, Joey Gase parked on the track and William Byron ran into him, at least that’s what we were told by Byron because the NBC broadcast missed it. During COVID NBC claims that it was hard to cover the race tracks, that makes sense at spread out 1.5 mile tracks, but missing a playoff driver’s wreck at a half-mile track is incompetence.
10. Joey Logano ($10,200) — At Dover — whether it is the best data point is debatable, but it is a data point — Logano gambled and took tires during the last caution. This decision turned his 14th place car into a fifth place car. On equal tires, he did not have a top-5 car.
11. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) — Last fall at Bristol, Blaney had a top-5 car during the first run, but out of the competition caution he sunk and finished stage 1 in 23rd place. Crew chief Todd Gordon made adjustments and got the car back into the top 10.
12. Tyler Reddick ($7,600) — He’s not the most cerebral racer, but sometimes thinking too much gets in the way. Before Bristol, Reddick said that despite winning at Bristol in the Xfinity Series, he’s never felt comfortable at this short track. He then went on to finish fourth in a challenging race highlighted by an extreme long run in stage 3.
13. Aric Almirola ($7,300) — Let’s revisit the debate. Hendrick had the best cars at Dover, but that’s not quite Bristol. Last fall, Almirola finished fifth at Bristol and three SHR cars finished inside the top 6. Do you trust Hendrick Dover data or SHR last season at Bristol?
14. Brad Keselowski ($8,600) — A couple times this season, Brad Keselowski has been very fast. Other times, he has been average and sometimes he’s been flat out bad — like the time they put the wrong parts in the car at Darlington. How does that happen? Maybe the 15 minute oil change place wasn’t a good idea?
15. Chris Buescher ($6,700) — When the fall night race went green for long stretches, Buescher came to life. During the last half of the race, he moved into the top 15 and by staying out long and catching the caution, Buescher was able to sneak away with a top-10 finish.
16. Kurt Busch ($9,600) — DraftKings is making DFS players pay for place differential points from playoff drivers, and for some drivers it makes sense. However, it does not make sense to pay for Kurt Busch given his struggles in the high horsepower package.
17. Bubba Wallace ($7,500) — This isn’t a great track for Bubba, but it’s not one of the tracks where he always struggles. He has four top 20 finishes in his last six races at Bristol and those were in RPM equipment — one of those top 20s was a top 10 finish last spring.
18. Ryan Newman ($7,000) — Before his 25th place finish at Bristol last fall, he had a streak of seven top 15 finishes. His teammate Chris Buescher earned a top 10 finish, so the Roush cars should have some useful notes.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($7,200) — Typically, the driver that wrecks more than anyone else — Wrecky Spinhouse — does not wreck at the most volatile track on the circuit. Last fall was different, but not really, Stenhouse wrecked, but it wasn’t his fault. Old man Jimmie Johnson forgot to check his mirrors and wrecked Stenhouse.
20. Ryan Preece ($6,000) — Watch the 2020 Bristol night race, and you’ll never see Ryan Preece. Look at your spreadsheet, and you’ll notice that he finished ninth, and he finished 12th in the spring race. How did he do it? According to Preece in post-race interviews, they got lucky and caught the cautions at the right times.
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