And we’re back on rain watch. NASCAR has already moved the Food City 500 up an hour on Sunday, but with the way the forecast is looking, that might not do anything because Bristol Motor Speedway is going to get a bunch of rain. The good news, though, is that we had pretty good weather for qualifying and practice on Friday and Saturday. If you remember back to last year, this same race ended up being a Monday event, and Jimmie Johnson went to victory lane. From a Fantasy NASCAR perspective, Bristol is one of those tracks where we tend to see comers and goers, but obviously track position is king at a half-mile bullring.
Kyle Busch is on the pole for this weekend’s race, and initially had his brother, Kurt, alongside, but the #41 Ford wrecked in Happy Hour and will have to start in the back of the field with the backup car. That’ll put Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the front row when we go green. The full starting lineup for Sunday’s race can be found by clicking here. There were two practice sessions on Saturday, and you can find the practice speeds here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour. Be sure to read our in-depth practice notes as well for each of those sessions: Practice #2 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Bristol
1. Kyle Busch – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $11,300
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
There’s no reason why Kyle Busch shouldn’t be #1 in the Fantasy NASCAR rankings this weekend. He has the most Cup Series wins here at Bristol Motor Speedway (six), is the most recent race winner here, is coming off a great win at Texas, and has had one of the top 2 cars in every single race this season. Oh, and Rowdy won the pole for Sunday’s Food City 500. In addition to that, the #18 Toyota looked great during the practice sessions here on Saturday, and even ended up with the best ten-lap average in Happy Hour. Kyle Busch is going to lead early and often when this race goes green, and it’s hard to imagine him not being in contention for the win when it’s all said and done. Busch has finished between 1st and 3rd in each of the last five Cup Series races and he should make it six in a row after this weekend. If you’re not rolling with Kyle Busch in Fantasy NASCAR for this race, I hope it’s due to a wish that he has problems during the race–which has happened in five of the last seven Bristol races for Rowdy–and not because you don’t think he has a good car. Busch is by far and above the top pick heading into the Food City 500.
2. Kyle Larson – Starts 6th – DraftKings Price: $9,700
**Risk Factor: Medium-to-High Risk**
Kyle Larson will be the first car to hit the top of the track when this year’s Food City 500, but it’s going to be rough at the beginning. Larson slipped around a little bit during the practice sessions on Saturday, and with the rain we have forecasted, that’s going to wash all of that rubber off the track before the Cup Series race goes green. With that being said, this is a 500-lap race we have scheduled, and the second groove will come in eventually. Then it’ll just come down to not wrecking. Larson led 202 laps from the pole in this race one year ago (finished 6th) and followed that up with a 9th-place run in the fall. He does have a few bad results on his record here, but finishing 12th or better in five of your eight career starts at Bristol is actually pretty impressive. Practice-wise, Larson didn’t look very good on the ten-lap average speed charts in either session on Saturday, but you have to keep in mind that he was really working that high groove, and that slowed him down. Honestly my only concern with Larson this weekend is his string of poor performances lately, as he has finished 16th or worse in three of the last four races. If he can keep the car off the call on Sunday, though, the #42 Chevrolet is definitely a top 5 contender.
3. Clint Bowyer – Starts 14th – DraftKings Price: $8,200
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
The #14 team had a scare during Happy Hour on Saturday, as Trevor Bayne forgot how to drive again and a much faster Clint Bowyer ran into the back end of the #6 Ford. Fortunately, the damage was repairable, and they should be alright for Sunday. Which is good because Bowyer has a good car for this year’s Food City 500, and he also has a bunch of momentum, with four straight finishes of 11th or better, including that dominating win at Martinsville–the only other short track we’ve visited so far in 2018. As far as Bristol goes, Bowyer has had his fair share of struggles here, but his overall average finish of 15.3 puts him inside the top 10 among active drivers, and he did finish a career-best 2nd in this race one year ago. Clint didn’t have the 2nd-best car in that race, but the finish is all that matters, really. Speed-wise, Clint ranked 8th in ten-lap average during the Happy Hour practice session on Saturday, and that’s about where I have him finishing on Sunday as well. The Stewart-Haas teams all have something to overcome this weekend, but they should have plenty of speed to do that. They have all season so far.