It’s time for the final race in the Round of 16, and fireworks are sure to fly in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
See which NASCAR Cup Series drivers should be on your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings radar for Saturday night’s (Sept. 16) event, airing at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
Last fall we saw Chris Buescher, then a non-playoff driver, grab the victory over Chase Elliott and William Byron. Then in 2021, Kyle Larson took the win over Kevin Harvick after a fierce and fiery battle that also involved Elliott. We all saw what happened after the race: an angry Harvick and upset Elliott discussing their points of view.
Bristol has a tendency to bring out frustrations a bit more than other racetracks, mostly because it’s a short track with cars racing close to each other. It generally puts on a fun race from a fan’s perspective, even if it causes headaches for those in the infield.
Fantasy-wise, it’s usually ideal to have the winner in your lineup, as he tends to lead a lot of laps. Both Buescher and Larson led over 100 laps en route to their wins. And unlike Martinsville Speedway, drivers can usually pass or gain several positions due to attrition, so you don’t have to be afraid of choosing a driver further back.
Unfortunately, there’s a threat of weather on Saturday evening; the race was already moved up to help prepare for it. Hopefully, the full race will get in before the rain comes.
Remember to look at other short tracks from the last couple of years to see which drivers perform better than others.
Practice and qualifying were held on Friday; you can look at the results here.
Here’s a quick look at the rules for DraftKings:
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and it decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats from 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they started the race. For example, if Larson started seventh and won, he would gain six points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 51 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap they lead.
Here are the drivers you should consider for Kansas:
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier
Kyle Larson ($11,500)
Career at Bristol: 14 starts, 1 win, 4 top fives, 9 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 12.8
Larson led 175 in the 2021 Bristol Night Race, winning his first race at The Last Great Colosseum. It was the third time he led over 100 laps there, leading 200 in the spring of 2018 and 202 in the spring of 2017. Last year he led just 34 circuits, while in 2019 he was out front for 62 laps. Additionally, he has just one finish outside the top nine since 2017, so it’s no wonder why he’s the most expensive driver on DraftKings.
This season, Larson has two victories on short tracks: at Richmond Raceway and Martinsville, both in the spring. Plus, he looked like he was about to win at Phoenix Raceway, being out front for about 200 laps, but ended up finishing fourth.
The Californian is a good option on DraftKings, and will likely be popular since he’ll start in the back. Could he be worth his hefty salary? Well, if he shows the speed he did in practice, Larson should earn a good finish.
Chris Buescher ($9,300)
Career at Bristol: 13 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 20.5
Buescher was also quick in practice, putting up the second quickest 10-lap average speed Friday. But is it really any surprise? He’s been one of the hottest drivers recently, winning at Richmond after leading 88 laps. He then took the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway. Though he had a rough ending last week at Kansas Speedway, his run at Darlington Raceway, where he finished third, was much better.
Last year’s win at Bristol was just his third top 10 there; he drove from 23rd to eighth in 2020, while in 2016 he finished fifth. But Buescher has done well at other short tracks lately. He was ninth at Dover Motor Speedway, 14th at Martinsville and third last fall at Richmond. I fully expect Buescher to post some fastest laps and potentially lead laps, even though he’s starting 20th.
Bubba Wallace ($8,000)
Career at Bristol: 8 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Bristol: 20.6
Bubba Wallace is not one you’d think of first for Bristol, but he does have some long-run pace, at least in practice. He posted the fifth-best average speed over 10 consecutive laps and will roll off in ninth.
This season, Wallace started and finished eighth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; he performed similarly at Martinsville, finishing right where he began in ninth. Last season at Martinsville, the No. 23 gained 16 spots to come home in eighth.
Meanwhile, his lone top 10 at Bristol came in May 2020 after he started 36th. It’s certainly not his best track, but if his team can execute and build on the pace the car had in practice, he should earn another good result. They’ll enter the weekend under pressure as the threat of playoff elimination looms over their heads.
Ty Gibbs ($7,900)
Career at Bristol: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 35.0
You may be noticing a theme here. Yup, Ty Gibbs was also quick in practice, putting up the best average over 10 straight laps. Hopefully, this is an indicator that he’ll do better this time around than last year.
He does have a couple of teen finishes this year on tracks one mile or less, at Dover and Richmond. Gibbs also was ninth at Richmond in the spring.
Perhaps the No. 54 will stay up front and even lead some laps on Saturday; if he does, he’ll score high on DraftKings.
AJ Allmendinger ($6,400)
Career at Bristol: 22 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 23.9
AJ Allmendinger seemed to have good long-run pace in practice, too, as he was sixth quickest in 10-lap averages. He could use a good result, and what better place than where he bested Austin Cindric in a thrilling battle at the finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021.
Last season Allmendinger scored a top 10, only his second such result at the half-mile track. He began 13th and finished seventh. Unfortunately, that’s his best result in the last nine short track races; he was 18th at Dover and 19th at Loudon, certainly not ideal. However, I believe he can still drive and work his way up to the top 15.
Todd Gilliland ($5,300)
Career at Bristol: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol: 18.0
In last year’s Bristol fall event, Todd Gilliland drove from 30th to 18th; can he do that again this year? After all, he’s starting in the same spot as last season.
In the Craftsman Truck Series, Gilliland earned a top five and three top 10s at Bristol between 2018 and 2021. It’s not like he doesn’t have experience there, and though he’s not in the playoffs, he still would like to do his very best.
Plus, his salary is low enough to where you can play multiple high-tier drivers in your lineup on DraftKings.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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