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NASCAR America Fantasy League: 10 Best at Bristol in last three years

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There are a lot of wild card races on the calendar each year. All four races on the restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega), as well as the three road courses come immediately to mind. But what happens when a race on one of the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks goes so horribly awry as it did last week?

Fantasy players simply have to pick themselves up and wash the dust from their feet – just like all the drivers involved in last week’s carnage.

An unfortunate pairing on the schedule puts Bristol Motor Speedway next in line, however. This half-mile bullring where cars circle in 15 seconds is often a chaotic mess. Little mistakes are compounded by how quickly drivers can lose laps and accidents can clog up the straightaways to create multi-car pileups.

As a result, streaks are hard to come by and only two of this week’s 10-best drivers over the past three years have average finishes better than 10th. They are the ones to watch closely in practice and qualification, but be prepared to make last minute adjustments on race day.

Players who have not already joined the NASCAR America Fantasy league can still do so at nascar.com/nbcsportsfantasy, and then share their team using #NASCARAmericaFantasy.

1. Jimmie Johnson, (three-year average: 8.00)
Is this the week Johnson finally breaks his career-worst winless streak? Probably not, given how many things can go wrong at Bristol, but he won last spring’s Food City 500 and finished second in the 2015 edition.

2. Erik Jones (9.50 in two starts)
Jones has only two starts at Bristol so it is much too soon to make any sweeping judgements. His near-miss and second-place finish last fall makes him a great garage pick in the NASCAR America Fantasy Live league, however.

3. Kevin Harvick (9.83)
Entering the fall 2015 race, Harvick had not earned a top 10 at Bristol in eight races. He was second in that event and has not finished worse than eighth in five races since.

4. Denny Hamlin (10.83)
With three consecutive third-place finishes, Hamlin is much better in the fall at Bristol than the spring. In his last three Food City 500 efforts, he has only one top 10 and an average of 18.7.

5. Chase Elliott (11.00 in four starts; tied with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)
After getting penalized 20 points for an infraction at Texas, Elliott is going to want to make it up this week. Bristol is not the track one wants to come with something to prove.

6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (11.00; tied with Elliott)
In fantasy racing, predictability makes a driver’s stats more meaningful. Stenhouse has finished worse than 16th only twice in his 10-race career at Bristol and came close to winning twice with runner-up finishes.

7. Jamie McMurray (11.67)
Several drivers had season-best results last week at Texas, but McMurray may have had the most dramatic run with his third-place finish. At Bristol, he has a seven-race streak of top 15s.

8. Ryan Newman (12.00)
With the exception of crash damage that caused him to finish more than 20 laps off the pace in fall 2016, Newman has finished in the top 15 at Bristol in the past three years.

9. Clint Bowyer (12.83)
Bowyer has been getting progressively better in the spring race with a 12th in 2015, an eighth in 2016 and his runner-up finish to Johnson last year.

10. Trevor Bayne (13.00)
Like his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Stenhouse, Bayne has been one of the best dark horses in the field whenever NASCAR comes to Bristol. In six career starts there, he has five top 15s and a best of fifth in the 2016 Food City 500.

Bonus Picks

Pole Winner: Denny Hamlin has four front row starts at Bristol. Three of these were poles with the most recent coming in 2015. That makes him a front runner for the top spot.

Segment Winners: Bristol is hard to handicap. That is not only true at the end of the race, but during the segments as well. Last year, four different drivers won the four segments, but going back two years, Kyle Busch has been at the front most often at those critical junctures. He should be the pick for segment two. For segment one, pick a front row starter after qualification is in the books.

For more Fantasy NASCAR coverage, check out Rotoworld.com and follow Dan Beaver (@FantasyRace) on Twitter.

Kyle Larson wins Bristol Xfinity race in overtime

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Kyle Larson held off Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier in an overtime finish Friday night to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Larson led 202 of 310 laps and swept both stages on the way to his fourth Xfinity win of the season and 12th of his career.

The top five was completed by Cole Custer and Joey Logano.

The win was Larson’s first at Bristol in 18 Cup and Xfinity starts (including six top-five finishes in his previous eight Xfinity races at the track). Larson has won in four of his six starts this year (and didn’t finish the other two).

Larson dominated after pole-sitter Kyle Busch wrecked from first after leading the first 69 laps.

“It feels really good, I just wish Kyle Busch wouldn’t have had his troubles so I could have raced him,” Larson told NBCSN. “It still feels really good to win a race here at Bristol finally. I’ve been close so many times. This is my best track by far, this and Homestead.”

The overtime finish was set up by a Daniel Hemric wreck with two laps to go in the original 300-lap distance.

“We had that yellow there coming to two to go, I was like, ‘Man, again. Again I’m going to lose one here late,” Larson said. “We were able to get an average restart and get the win.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Justin Allgaier earned his career-best 10th consecutive top 10 … Cole Custer placed fourth for his best Bristol finish in four starts … Michael Annett placed seventh for his first top 10 of the season …  JA Junior Avila placed 20th in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was having a good night until he tagged the wall around Lap 66 while leading. On Lap 70, he lost a tire and got into the wall, causing enough damage to end his night. He finished 36th … Spencer Boyd and Vinnie Miller wrecked to bring out the second caution on Lap 105. Miller caused another caution on Lap 160 … Chase Briscoe was eliminated when he spun and hit the inside wall on Lap 142. He placed 34th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’d love to race him on dirt. I ain’t done much of that. ” – Kyle Larson on Christopher Bell

WHAT’S NEXT: Johnsonville 180 at Road America at 3:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 25 on NBCSN.

Starting lineup for Cup Bristol night race

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Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET).

Larson starts from the pole position for the third time this year.

Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Kyle Larson on pole for Cup race at Bristol

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Kyle Larson won the pole position for Saturday’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a top speed of 127.792 mph around the half-mile track.

Larson bested Chase Elliott (127.665) and Kyle Busch (127.639) to earn his third pole of the season and the seventh of his career.

Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five. Menard matched his best Bristol start from 2011 while Byron earned his career-best qualifying result in 24 starts.

“The top five there was tight,” Larson told NBCSN. “I saw William run his .04 there before I went out. ‘That’s going to be hard to beat.’ I would never have thought three other guys would squeeze between him and I for first and second. That shows how tough our sport is and our series is.”

Larson’s previous poles this year were at Dover and Sonoma. He has started on the front row in three of the last four Bristol races.

The top 10 was rounded out by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Jimmie Johnson qualified 13th. He was followed by Erik Jones, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon.

“We were really fast in the first round, it just didn’t really transfer over to the second round,” Jones, who won his first career pole in this race last year, told NBCSN. “Lost a lot of grip, lost a lot of speed. I think going early, the track was still a little bit hot, and we didn’t have quite a car that was ready for that.”

AJ Allmendinger qualified 25th and was followed by Kasey Kahne and Bubba Wallace.

B.J. McLeod failed to qualify.

Click here for qualifying results.

Kyle Busch wins Bristol Xfinity pole

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Kyle Busch will start first in tonight’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:28 p.m. ET on NBCSN) after posting a top speed of 124.686 mph in qualifying.

It is Busch’s first pole in seven starts this season. It is his sixth Xfinity pole at Bristol.

The top five is completed by Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Matt Tifft.

Logano’s fourth-place start is the worst of his five Xfinity starts this year.

Elliott Sadler will start sixth, his best start at Bristol since 2014.

Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Ryan Reed, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain were among those who did not advance to the final round.

Michael Annett will start 22nd after he spun and made light contact with the wall late in Round 1. He advanced to Round 2 but did not make a qualifying attempt.

Click here for qualifying results.