NASCAR Fantasy uPDATE: Food City 500 at Bristol

March 12, 2013, Dan Beaver, NASCAR.com

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Bristol is a rhythm track where clear favorites are hard to determine

Bristol is a rhythm track that makes practice a more vital piece of the puzzle than nearly anywhere else. Unfortunately, with a tenth of a second separating the fastest driver from the 19th-fastest in the morning session and first to 12th in Happy Hour, clear favorites are hard to identify.

More Bristol: Fantasy Preview

Fantasy power average

Rank

Driver

Power Avg.

1.

Jimmie Johnson

7.46

2.

Jeff Gordon

8.29

3.

Kyle Busch

9.76

4.

Denny Hamlin

10.48

5.

Clint Bowyer

11.98

6.

Matt Kenseth

12.16

7.

Kevin Harvick

12.90

8.

Carl Edwards

13.15

9.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

13.27

10.

Ryan Newman

13.80

-- The Power Average is the average finish on short tracks during the last three years, plus the number of laps spent in the lead, in the top five, and in the top 10 expressed as if they were finishing results.

Anyone who has paid any attention to any practice or qualification during the weekend knows Kyle Busch is the consensus favorite to win. He won the pole with a new track record and posted the fastest times in both Saturday practices. He had the fastest 10-lap average in the morning and was second-quick in Happy Hour. Only superstition would keep him from being activated, because there is such a thing as peaking too soon.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to earn significant place-differential points in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game. He struggled in qualification and rolls off the grid 32nd, but that has been his pattern at Bristol. He improves 9.5 positions per race there to score an average finish of 11.8, but players can expect even more this week on the heels of his current four-race top-10 steak. The best news is that he was finally content with his car at the end of Happy Hour.

Players looking to stretch their salary cap will be pleased to note the stats on David Gilliland. He posted the third-quickest 10-lap average on Friday, qualified 14th, had the 10th-quickest average speed in the morning session, and was the third-fastest (single lap) and sixth-quickest (10-lap average) in Happy Hour. There is not a better driver available for less than $10.

Tony Stewart has a knack for improving during a race, but early indications are that he is going to need a lot of help on pit road. His 10-lap averages were slow in both practices with only the 20th quickest time in the morning session and 24th in Happy Hour. Worse still, he will not have long to figure out what is wrong since he starts 30th.

Danica Patrick was a great dark horse pick at Daytona, but anyone who held onto her in the following weeks has suffered. She will be a good value again later in the season once she develops some rhythm on the faster unrestricted, intermediate speedways, but right now it is time to let her mature in Cup because she did not look comfortable in any session this week.

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