NASCAR Picks for Bristol
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Formerly one of the masters of Bristol, the recent changes to the track have taken a toll on Harvick's numbers. He has just a single top-10 finish in his last eight starts at the track and zero top-five finishes. Granted, Harvick has managed five top-15s in his last six Bristol starts, but he has shown no signs of recapturing his elite form.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His 12.2 average finish in the last 20 races is still fourth best in the series, but the normally consistent Biffle has struggled a bit lately. He has finished outside the top 10 in his last three starts at the track, posting a 21.0 average finish during the stretch. Maybe it is just a mini-slump, but with all the track changes going on at Bristol, the downward trend is concerning.
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After beginning his Bristol career with seven finishes outside the top 15, Menard has righted the ship lately. He has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts at the track, including 10th-place finishes in both of his starts in 2012. I wouldn't pencil in Menard as a lock for the top 10 this weekend, but a top-15 wouldn't be too surprising.
Marcos Ambrose, #9 Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
In eight career starts at Bristol, Ambrose has finished in the top 15 five times. More importantly, he has finished in the top 10 four times, including a fifth-place run last summer. Call him purely a road course ace if you want, but Ambrose has a handful of oval tracks where he has legitimate value, as well.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Despite a hard crash at Bristol last August, Newman has been a solid option at the track for the most part. In his eight starts in Thunder Valley prior to last summer, he finished 16th or better in all eight starts. Newman had seven finishes of 12th or better during the stretch, including six top-10s. If you're looking for a driver that can deliver a solid top-15 this weekend, Newman should do the trick.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Bristol has become a bit of a nightmare for Stewart. He has finished outside the top 10 in seven of his last eight starts at the track, including five straight. Stewart has a 20.9 average finish during the stretch and has managed just two top-15s. You can never write Stewart completely off, but all signs say stay away from the three-time champ this weekend.
Jeff Burton, #31 Caterpillar/Cheerios, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Nothing is a safe bet with Burton these days, but he has been somewhat predictable at Bristol lately. In addition to a sixth-place run last March, he has cracked the top 20 in seven of his last eight starts at the track. Owners will want to keep expectations on the low end of the spectrum, but Burton should at least be able to provide a top-20 finish.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
For his career, Busch is one of the most decorated drivers at Bristol. He is a five-time winner at the track, and he has eight top-15s in his last 11 starts at the track. The bad news is that he has finished outside the top 15 in his three most recent starts at Bristol, and it remains to be seen if his move to Furniture Row Racing will allow him to return to form. Busch certainly has some upside, but a wait-and-see approach is probably the way to go.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Logano got a rough introduction to Bristol, and while he still has a 22.1 average finish, he has been a bit better lately. Logano has finished 16th or better in his last three starts at the track, including a career-best eighth-place run last summer. He is definitely heading in the right direction, but one top-10 isn't enough to make him a great fantasy play by any means.
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
It is tough to recommended McMurray at any track because of his tendency to have terrible performances, but Bristol is an exception. He has finished 11th or better in five of his last seven starts at the track, including a seventh-place run last March. McMurray could be worth a look this weekend.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #17 Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class C]
Bristol can often be tough on rookies, so it is hard to know what to expect from Stenhouse this weekend. It does bode well that Roush Fenway Racing has had success at the track in the past, but I recommend at least waiting until after practice before making a decision on whether or not to take a chance on the rookie.
Juan Montoya, #42 Target, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Montoya has actually been decent at Bristol compared to other tracks. He has finished in the top 20 in eight of his 12 starts at the track and even has three top-10s. That being said, the upside is probably only a top-15, which doesn't exactly offset the risk that comes with a DNF machine like Montoya.
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