I’ll give the Bristol Dirt race credit for this, it got me super excited for the one race a year we get on Bristol proper. This Saturday night race is shaping up to be one of the most exciting races in the playoffs, and with this being a cut race, it’s a can’t miss experience.

The Round of 16 has been dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing and while Hendrick isn’t far behind, and should by no means be slept on, JGR has closed the gap significantly heading into the playoffs. While Hendrick will remain a threat and should be heavily favored heading into Saturday, I think that JGR will keep a firm grasp on the competition this weekend.

There’s always some lower-end team that surprises people at Bristol and makes a great run. A lot of people have written off a guy like Michael McDowell to pull of the upset and make it to the next round but keep an eye on him. There are guys like McDowell, Daniel Suarez, and Erik Jones who I could see coming up with a shocking performance based off their past success. Bubba Wallace is also well accomplished at Bristol and this will be his first time visiting the track with decent equipment. 

Favorite: Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has finally turned it on and at the best possible time. The round of 16 was almost made for Hamlin’s skillset and if he had a few more laps at Richmond we might be talking about a possible sweep of the entire round.

There is strong consideration for Kyle Busch as he’s in a bad position points wise and needing a win and is always on point at Bristol. With Busch’s struggles in this round, I feel like he is going to be a threat but I’m putting my money on the JGR driver who is on a hot streak.

Dark Horse: Kurt Busch

Is Kurt Busch a dark horse? Kind of sort of, but I’m counting it. He’s in a grey area despite him winning a race this year, he’s not a consistent enough winning threat to call the favorite. Busch has just as great of a record as his brother or anyone for that matter at the track.

With 6 previous wins at Bristol, one coming in 2018, and the pressure of needing to have a good day to survive, I think he’s got a great chance at a win. There is a lot of positive momentum going for this team and it seems like CGR is trying to run this team into the ground -in a good way- with how fast their cars have been in the last month.

Fantasy:

High-End Picks:

1. Denny Hamlin: $10,800

2. Chase Elliott: $10,500

3. Kyle Busch: $11,500

4. Kyle Larson: $11,300

5. Kurt Busch: $9,600

Mid-Tier Picks:

1. Tyler Reddick: $7,600

2. Brad Keselowski: $8,600

3. Christopher Bell: $8,800

4. Austin Dillon: $8,200

5. Aric Almirola; $7,300

Low-End Picks:

1. Daniel Suarez: $6,600

2. Ryan Newman: $7,000

3. Michael McDowell: $5,400

4. Ryan Preece: $5,800

5. Erik Jones: $6,400

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