Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2024 Food City 500

Goodbye Bristol Motor Speedway dirt, welcome back Food City 500.

This week, the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series take on the high banks of the historic Bristol for the first time in the spring on concrete since 2020. Affectionately known as The Last Great Colosseum and The World’s Fastest Half-Mile, the East Tennessee short track has produced many memorable moments throughout its history. Names like Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip and Kyle Busch have dominated here over the years, rattling cages all along the way.

The key this week will be tires and handling, as Kevin Harvick found out last fall when an ill-handling car put him behind the field early. He never recovered and wound up out of the playoffs in his final season.

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I had some hard luck last week at Phoenix Raceway. Barely any of my picks panned out and I missed out on all three of my recommended bets. As I always say though, it’s a new week, and there are groups to win and money to be made.

Now before I get into my picks, here’s a quick breakdown of the rules.

Points will be awarded on DraftKings for finishing position, position differential, fastest laps and laps led. The driver who wins the race scores 45 fantasy points, while second gets 42 points, third gets 41 points and so on, at least through the top 10. The 11th-place finisher scores 32 points, 21st gets 21 points and 31st gets 10 points.

However many spots they lose or gain on the track is added to or subtracted from the score. Then, if the driver leads a lap, they will earn 0.25 points for each lap led and 0.45 points for each fastest lap.

DraftKings NASCAR Scoring Rules

Here are my picks for the week. Bristol is a very tough place both on the cars and the drivers inside them. It’s important to find the balance between aggression and finesse if you want to win here, and these are the guys I think possess those qualities:

Fantasy Forecast

1. Denny Hamlin ($11,200)

Stats that matter: 3 career wins at Bristol, career average finish of 13.9 at Bristol, has completed 95.8% of his career laps at Bristol

Denny Hamlin might have just given one away last week in Phoenix, and you can bet on the fact that he’ll be out to right that wrong.

There is perhaps no one else in the field, outside of Kyle Larson, who is always someone to watch here. Hamlin’s resume absolutely speaks for itself, with his three wins and 17 top-10 finishes in 33 starts.

The most astounding statistic backing him up in my mind is that he has only DNF’d here twice in his long and illustrious career. Hamlin will most certainly be a threat to win this week, but from a fantasy perspective, he will likely be your highest point scorer this weekend.

2. Chris Buescher ($9,800)

Stats that matter: 1 career win at Bristol, 3 top-10 finishes in his last four Bristol starts, 86 fastest laps between last fall and the 2022 Bristol Night Race

The pride of Prosper, Texas hasn’t had the best start to his 2024 season, but last weekend at Phoenix, RFK Racing showed real signs of life for the first time.

I predict that this week will be no different.

Chris Buescher‘s breakthrough win here in 2022 seems like it just yesterday, but he’s kept the momentum going at this track since then, with a fourth-place finish last fall. This is one of his best tracks statistically as well as he’s shown plenty of speed, even before Brad Keselowski bought into Jack Roush’s operation.

Look for the No. 17 to be at the front and turning fast laps on Sunday.

3. Chase Elliott ($8,300)

Stats that matter: 1 career win at Bristol (2020 All-Star Race), 3 top-10 finishes in his last four Bristol starts, career average finish of 11.9 at Bristol

Man, this team just needs one week to turn things around, and this could be it.

Elliott had a really great run going last week at Phoenix Raceway until an untimely caution relegated him to another finish outside the top 10. Bristol is one of his best tracks, though, and he has a knack for hanging around until the end here.

It’ll be interesting to see if the No. 9 has the speed to compete for the win this week, but I think this is definitely where they can turn their season around. There is most likely no one in the field who needs it more.

And oh, by the way, he’s on record as saying this is his one of his favorite tracks on the schedule. A happy and motivated Elliott could pay you big dividends this weekend.

4. Ty Gibbs ($8,000)

Stats that matter: 5th-place finish last fall at Bristol, coming off back-to-back top fives at Phoenix and Las Vegas

Ty Gibbs is finally showing the potential we all knew he had as of late, as last week at Phoenix he was dominant in the first half of the race and made his way all the way back up to the top five when it was all said and done.

The momentum for him is real, and though he doesn’t have a long resume here at Bristol, I think you have to bank on that.

What’s more, he finished fifth here in the fall, and it means that this team may have found something to build on here for the future.

There’s also perhaps nobody in the field more willing to be aggressive when the pay window opens.

5. Michael McDowell ($6,800)

Stats that matter: 4 top-15 finishes at Bristol in his last five starts, 126 green flag passes in his last two Bristol starts

The momentum for Front Row Motorsports has cooled in recent weeks, but if anybody can pick it back up, it’s Michael McDowell.

His record at Bristol as a whole isn’t super great, but recent history for him has been kind, as he got a career-best finish of sixth last fall. If this team brings the qualifying speed they’ve shown at bigger tracks, it could be a great day for your team.

Plus, McDowell has made 126 green flag passes over the last two races here, and at a place where it’s hard to pass, that could be a game changer for those who sign him.

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6. Ryan Preece ($5,900)

Stats that matter: Career average finish of 15.5 at Bristol, has never finished worse than 25th at Bristol

Stewart-Haas Racing has been on a roll with good showings by Noah Gragson and Chase Briscoe this season, and it’s time Ryan Preece gets in on the action. Known as a short-track ace in his Modified Tour days, he’s a good value at his price.

He is also pretty good here at Bristol, averaging a 15.5 career average finish, which is impressive considering the attrition that takes place here.

He’s absolutely a dark horse, but he might be the dark horse that will put you over the top in your groups.

Prop Bets and Locks

  1. Hamlin (+475) to win: I said it earlier, but there may be no surer bet than Hamlin on Sunday. The No. 11 team has this place figured out on concrete, and this is the safest bet I can recommend.
  2. Kyle Busch (+450) to be the top finishing Chevrolet: Busch is a master of Bristol, amassing an astonishing eight career wins. The odds here are begging to be played.
  3. Ford (+240): Ford is still seeking that first win, and with the aforementioned RFK duo of Keselowski and Buescher it’s hard not to pick them here. I think this is the week Ford gets the job done for your betting slip.

That’s all for this week folks! Good luck and happy betting!

About the author

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.

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