Bristol is the last great Colosseum. Everybody wants to win here but only one driver will get to wave the gladiator sword at the end. Bristol can be one of the toughest races of the year on fantasy racers. Some recent races have had very high attrition rates but it should be noted rain delays were associated with those events. On Saturday night the weather is looking good so hopefully that will keep down the attrition rate. Starting up front is important at Bristol so make sure you check out the starting lineup. A few drivers had incidents in practice so make sure you check out our practice notes (Practice #1 notes – Happy Hour Notes). Some drivers had really quick cars and here’s a link to practice speeds (Practice #1 Speeds – Happy Hour Speeds). To find out who’s quick between practice sessions make sure you check out our member exclusive Enhanced Practice Speeds Cheat Sheet. I’m going to note that this is a combined Confidence Rankings / Post Practice Predictions post. Regular posts will resume next week so thanks for understandings. This post is packed full of content though and it covers the top 30 drivers.
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1) Matt Kenseth (Starting – 13th) (Odds To Win – 6/1) (Risk Factor – Low)
Bristol Fantasy NASCAR Spin – Since Bristol was reconfigured Matt Kenseth has been the the driver to beat. He’s had some problems in the six races on the current layout but it should be noted he’s the only multi-time winner and his driver rating ranks as the best. Also on the current Bristol configuration Kenseth has the best average running position (8.8) and has led the most laps (533). In three of the last four races at Thunder Valley he’s earned the best PROS Rankings. Our exclusive PROS Rankings show you who subjectively had the best car. One attribute I really like about Kenseth is his momentum that you’ll read about below. In practice Matt Kenseth had good speed and was happy with how his car performed. In Happy Hour his ten lap average ranked as the 4th best.
Bristol History – Matt Kenseth is a very strong performer at Bristol. He’s won here four times and has led +25 laps per race over the last 8 events. This spring he raced his way to victory lane. In the race he earned the best PROS Rankings, best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 47 laps. Over long runs he was the class of the field. Last August he was also very strong. He finished 3rd, earned the 5th best driver rating, had a 7th place average running position and led 62 laps. One notable strength of his performance was that he was good on old tires. In spring 2014 he had a great car but finished 13th. That race wasn’t incident free for him and he was also beat by drivers who used pit strategy at the end. In that race he earned the best PROS Ranking and led 165 laps. In the August 2013 race he took two tires during his final pit stop and held off Kasey Kahne for the win. Also in that race he earned the #1 position in our PROS Rankings, earned the best driver rating, led the most laps and had a 7th place average running position. What really made his win remarkable is that around the mid-point he got a speeding penalty. In spring 2013 Kenseth finished 35th. That poor result can be attributed to a wreck. In the race he was running in 2nd but leader Jeff Gordon had a flat tire and shot right up the track in Kenseth’s path which led to massive damage to the #20. In that race he led 85 laps and earned the 6th best driver rating. In the first Bristol race on the current configuration Kenseth wrecked while battling Tony Stewart for the lead.
Momentum – Over the last six races Matt Kenseth has scored the most points and has a 4.0 average finish.
2) Kyle Busch (Starting – 2nd) (Odds To Win – 6/1) (Risk Factor – Medium)
Bristol Fantasy NASCAR Spin – Kyle Busch will be one of the drivers to beat on Saturday night. He has unparalleled momentum and Bristol has been a great track for him. When you combine those two attributes good things happen. At Bristol Kyle Busch is a five-time champion but his most recent victory was in 2011. In quite a few of the races since then he’s had problems. On Saturday night Kyle Busch will start in 2nd. In practice Kyle Busch was very quick and his ten lap average in Happy Hour ranked #1. In that session he liked his car so much his team worked on making it comfortable for him.
Bristol History – This spring Kyle Busch missed the race due to injury. Last August he was very competitive. In that event he started in 4th and raced his way up to the lead on lap 55 (Led 8 laps). Then shortly after he took the lead the caution came out. During that round of pit stops he was caught speeding on pit road which sent him to the back. Then while he was in traffic on lap 125 a “Big One” ensued and he was caught up in the carnage which led to his 36th place finish. In spring 2014 at Bristol he had one of the strongest cars but he walked away with a 29th place asterisk mark finish. In the event he led 73 laps but his race wasn’t incident free. He was burned by a caution during the pit cycle around the mid-point that dropped him from the front back to the mid-twenties. Later in the race something was wrong with his car after he hit a piece of debris. Then later in the race he spun and got clipped by Kurt Busch. In August 2013 he started last in a backup car and finished 11th. In spring 2013 he was impressive. He started on the pole, finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 56 laps. In the race he had an 8th place average running position but that underrates how well he performed. During the first round of pit stops while he was leading he got busted speeding on pit road. In the first race on the current track configuration in August 2012 he finished 6th. It wasn’t an easy 6th because in that race he also had a speeding penalty. In that event he earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 10th place average running position.
Momentum – Over the last eight races Kyle Busch has scored the most points, won half the races, has a 6.9 average finish and has led a league best 310 laps.
3) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 7th) (Odds To Win – 6/1) (Risk Factor – Medium)
Bristol Fantasy NASCAR Spin – Kevin Harvick has been a dominant force on the track this season and he’ll be one of the drivers to beat on Saturday night. Recently Bristol has been a trouble spot for Harvick. In 3 of the last 4 races he’s finished in the 30’s and his most recent Bristol top ten was in 2011. In the 4 car at Bristol Kevin Harvick has been extremely competitive but he has yet to have an incident free race. Performance wise in Stewart-Haas Racing equipment he’s been top six good every event.
Bristol History – Kevin Harvick had a great car this spring at Bristol but his race wasn’t incident free. On lap 310 Johnson spun Burton and that led to Harvick wrecking because he wasn’t able to avoid the carnage. At the time of the incident he was running in 3rd. Prior to wrecking he led 184 laps. Last August he had a great performance. He started on the pole, earned the 4th best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position, finished 11th and led 75 laps. In the race he performed better than his result. His chance of getting a good finish was dashed on lap 432 under yellow when he got a speeding penalty while running in 7th. In spring 2014 I thought he was top five good but his motor blew up with about 50 laps to go while he was running around 5th. Despite not completing about a tenth of the race he still earned the 8th best driver rating, had an 8th place average running position and led 28 laps.
Momentum – Since July minus his Pocono engine failure Kevin Harvick has a 3.8 average finish and a 7.0 average running position.