This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.
Food City 500
Location: Bristol, Tenn.
Course: Bristol Motor Speedway
Format: 0.5-mile oval
Denny Hamlin picked up his second win of the season in last week's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race featured more competitive action, which was primarily driven by the number of problems teams encountered. All three Penske Racing machines suffered issues with Joey Logano finishing best of the bunch in 17th. Hamlin himself had to overcome two pit road penalties to come out on top, and teammate Erik Jones even spun early only to come back and finish fourth. Kyle Busch led the most laps at 66 and close behind was Jimmie Johnson with 60. Part of the entertainment was caused by the fact that Texas generally tends to produce entertaining races with its unique configuration among the 1.5-mile quad-ovals on the calendar anyway. Adding in the plethora of issues front-running drivers experienced only served to amplify that intrigue. This week the series returns to another of its most entertaining circuits in Bristol Motor Speedway. The Busch brothers split the two race wins at the track between themselves last season and Kyle has won two of the last three.
Key Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway
• Number of previous races: 116
• Winners from pole: 25
• Winners from top-5 starters: 66
• Winners from top-10 starters: 91
• Winners from 21st or lower starters: 6
• Fastest race: 104.589 mph
Last 10 Bristol Winners
2018 fall - Kurt Busch
2018 spring - Kyle Busch
2017 fall - Kyle Busch
2017 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2016 fall - Kevin Harvick
2016 spring - Carl Edwards
2015 fall - Joey Logano
2015 spring - Matt Kenseth
2014 fall - Joey Logano
2014 spring - Carl Edwards
Racing at Bristol means fast laps and tight confines. The difficult track requires a certain skillset to master and favors drivers who can find the right rhythm throughout the race distance. The tough surface puts a heavy load on tires and the higher downforce levels expected this season have forced Goodyear to bring a new specification of tire for this week's race. How teams adapt, or don't, to that change could impact their chances for success. Managing the new rubber compound throughout a fuel run will be something the teams need to get on top of quickly in practice. Still, Bristol is a track position race. Determining when to pit, how many tires to change, and fuel strategy could be make-or-break decisions that put someone in a battle for the lead or down a lap. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on Hendrick Motorsports to assess whether their strength in Texas is here to stay or was just a one-track wonder. Expecting perennial favorites like Kyle Busch and the Penske Racing Fords to be at the front of the field again is also likely to ring true among fantasy selections this week.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
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DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Like brother Kyle, Kurt Busch has had a great career at Bristol. He has six track victories with the latest being just last fall. He has four top-10s in the last five races, and given how well teammate Kyle Larson has run at Bristol in the past, this could be Kurt's week to shine. Ryan Blaney appears to just need a little luck to fall his way to get his first win of the season. He has been quick nearly every week out and lead laps before running afoul of something. Having led 100 or more laps in each of his last two Bristol starts we should expect him to be fighting for the win this week, especially after topping the opening practice session. He'll just need to keep his nose out of trouble. Hendrick Motorsports took a big step forward in performance last week. Jimmie Johson captured the pole and Chase Elliott also spent time out front despite starting 13th. Both drivers have robust Bristol credentials and should be among the leaders on Sunday if the team's Texas strength wasn't a fluke. Fantasy players not wanting that much Hendrick representation should then consider Erik Jones in place of Johnson. Matt DiBenedetto currently sits 24th in points and had a top-20 at Martinsville. He has one top-10 and three top20s from eight Bristol starts. Rounding out the selections is Landon Cassill. He hasn't had a good start to the season but could have a better shot at being competitive in shohrt-tarck configuration. He was 20th in this race last season.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Seven Bristol victories in the Cup series and currently riding a wave of momentum easily makes Kyle Busch the favorite this weekend. He won this race from pole last season and is hungry to make amends for losing the win in Texas. Kyle Larson doesn't have the same momentum, but he has been exceptional at Bristol despite not yet winning at the track. Larson led laps in each of the last four Bristol races and two of those times he led 200 or more. Clint Bowyer is coming off of his best race of the season last week in Texas and has top-10 finishes from both Bristol visits last season. While most think of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as a restrictor-plate specialist, he is pretty quick on the short tracks, too. He finished in the top 10 in six of his 12 track starts, including a fourth-place finish in last year's race. Chris Buescher should be a driver to watch further down the cost scale. He had three top-20 finishes leading up to Martinsville and scored a top-five at Bristol back in 2016. He has raced well early this season and will be trying to add a top-15 to his statistics this weekend. Finally, Joey Gase rounds off the higher-risk option. Gase has just one Bristol start in the Cup series, a 36th-place finish from last on the grid in 2017.