Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Bristol is a great track for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and ranks as one of his best. His average finish is 10.8 and in 5 of the last 8 races he’s finished in the top ten. In two of the races over that stretch he finished runner-up. Stenhouse has also been a rather safe option at Bristol having finished in the top sixteen in 7 of the last 8 races. Last summer at Thunder Valley he had a great race and finished 14th. That’s an awesome result when you take into account on lap 200 while he was running in 9th he had a tire go down and got into the wall which brought out a caution. Last spring Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a good race. He finished 9th, had a 13th place average running position and earned the 11th best driver rating. At the end of Stage #2 he finished 10th. In 2016 he had a good year scoring the 3rd most points between the combined events. In summer 2016 he had a good car and finished runner-up from the 25th place starting position. The attrition rate was sky high and he used pit strategy in the last quarter of the race but you can’t take that away from him. In spring 2016 he finished 16th, but it should be noted he was running in 9th with 20 laps to go. In 3 of the 4 Bristol races prior to that Stenhouse Jr. finished in the top 6.
Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson has run well at Bristol. He’s the defending champion of this particular event and in 6 of the last 7 races he’s finished in the top 11. In the one race he finished outside that mark he had a misleading result. Last August, Jimmie Johnson had a strong showing. He earned the 8th best driver rating, had a 10th place average running position and finished 11th. Additionally it should be noted he finished 10th in Stage #1 and 2nd in Stage #2. I will note in Stage #2 he used pit strategy. Last spring Johnson had a great car and won his second career race at Bristol. In addition to finishing first he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 6th place average running position and led 81 laps. A lot of drivers focused on running the high-groove, but he really excelled at running the bottom. In August 2016 he was a driver survivor and finished 7th. In spring 2016 he had a strong car but finished a misleading 23rd. On lap 300 while he was running in 3rd he made an unexpected pit stop under green which dropped him two laps down to 31st (tire issue). Prior to that it was clear he had top five potential. In the three Bristol races prior to that he had a 3.3 average finish, the 6th best driver rating and a 10.3 average running position.
Aric Almirola – At Bristol I think Aric Almirola has dark horse sleeper potential. I think he’ll be low-double digits good and have a great chance to finish in the top ten. In 3 of the last 6 races at Bristol he’s finished in the teens. Last summer he got into the wall twice and the second time was a knockout blow which led to his 37th place finish. When he got into the wall for the first time on lap 62 he was running in the high-twenties. Last spring he didn’t have a great performance. He finished 22nd and had a 25th place average running position. In summer 2016 Almirola had a respectable afternoon and when the checkered flag waved he finished 14th. It should be noted he was aided by heavy attrition and his average running position was 22nd. In spring 2016 he might’ve had teens potential but with 64 laps to go while he was running in 19th he got into the wall hard. That caused him to finish 34th.