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NASCAR Fantasy Picks for the 2024 Food City 500

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, 2024 in Bristol, Tennessee.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol, Tennessee for the Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway. Who should you play in NASCAR Fantasy?

For the first time since 2020, the race will be held on the track’s concrete half-mile surface. Dirt racing took place at Bristol over the last three seasons. The race is the fifth of the 36-race NASCAR schedule. Viewers can watch the event on Sunday, March 17th at 3:30pm ET (12:30pm PT) with coverage on FOX. The race will also be available on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM’s NASCAR Radio for radio listeners.

NASCAR Fantasy Live gives fans the chance to partake in driver selection each Cup Series race weekend. One will pick five starters and one “garage” driver per event. The garage driver will not receive any points but acts as a replacement for a starter who may face trouble in the first part of the race. At the end of stage two, picks will lock and no changes can be made. Points are awarded based on stage points and finishing positions in addition to four “head-to-head” driver picks. A driver may only be picked ten (10) times across the 26-race Regular Season and then five (5) times in the 10-race Playoffs.

See NASCAR’s website here for rules of how to play.

My recommendations are NOT my guaranteed lineup for Sunday. See my results from last weekend’s Shriners Children’s 500 from Phoenix Raceway. Below are my NASCAR Fantasy suggestions for Sunday’s Food City 500.

2024 SHRINERS CHILDREN’S 500 RECAP

STARTERS

  • Christopher Bell – 9 uses left
    • 40 Place Points (1st) + 10 Stage Points (St. 1 – N/A, St. 2 – 1st) = 50 Total Points
  • Tyler Reddick – 9 uses left
    • 27 Place Points (10th) + 19 Stage Points (St. 1 – 1st, St. 2 – 2nd) = 46 Total Points
  • Denny Hamlin – 8 uses left
    • 26 Place Points (11th) + 16 Stage Points (St. 1 – 3rd, St. 2 – 3rd) = 42 Total Points
  • William Byron – 7 uses left
    • 19 Place Points (18th) + 12 Stage Points (St. 1 – 6th, St. 2 – 4th) = 31 Total Points
  • Chase Elliott – 9 uses left
    • 18 Place Points (19th) + 10 Stage Points (St. 1 – 5th, St. 2 – 7th) = 28 Total Points
  • Ross Chastain – KEPT IN GARAGE, 9 uses left
    • 31 Place Points (6th) + 0 Stage Points (St. 1 – N/A, St. 2 – N/A) = 31 Total Points

FEATURED MATCHUPS

  • Ryan Blaney vs. Ross Chastain
    • PICK: Chastain
    • RESULT: Incorrect (Blaney = 5th, Chastain = 6th)
  • Denny Hamlin vs. Chase Elliott
    • PICK: Hamlin
    • RESULT: Correct (Hamlin = 11th, Elliott = 19th)
  • Kyle Busch vs. Christopher Bell
    • PICK: Bell
    • RESULT: Correct (Bell = 1st, Busch = 22nd)
  • Ty Gibbs vs. Alex Bowman
    • PICK: Gibbs
    • RESULT: Correct (Gibbs = 3rd, Bowman = 20th)

RANKING – RACE 3/36

  • Weekly Points = 227 PTS.
  • Total Points = 733 PTS.
  • Collective Rankings = 12,660th (+9,452 POS.)

STARTERS

PICK 1 – Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell takes the top spot. Last weekend, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver took the checkered flag at Phoenix for his first win of the season.

On Sunday, Bell will look for his second straight Spring win at Bristol. That win, however, came on dirt, as NASCAR makes its highly-anticipated return to the track’s natural exterior. Despite that, Bell has won three stages of the four stages in the two Next Gen races. He has led 330 of those 1,000 laps and was ranked first both times with Average Running Position (A.R.P.). Bell is the 2019 Spring Xfinity victor at the track.

Entering as the defending race winner is an added boost to put Bell in your NASCAR Fantasy lineup.

PICK 2 – Kyle Larson

Phoenix was uncharacteristic for Kyle Larson with a lackluster 14th-place finish. Nonetheless, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway winner will be a sure threat to win Bristol.

In eight of the last nine Tennessee trips, Larson has finished inside the Top 10 with five inside the Top 5. Additionally, he has led the most laps in three of those races including his one win in September of 2021. Larson is only one of three drivers to earn stage points in all four stages of the Next Gen events.

If you have the usage, “Yung Money” is a must.

PICK 3 – Denny Hamlin

When Denny Hamlin is on it at Bristol, he is on it.

The 19-season Cup Series veteran has never won a Spring race at the half-mile but has won the acclaimed Night Race in 2012, 2019, and last year. His showing in 2023 was impressive leading 142 laps and finishing 4th in the second stage. Both of Hamlin’s trips in the Next Gen car for Joe Gibbs racing have seen an A.R.P. averaging to 3rd against full-time competitors. Statistics do not fully show how strong his Bristol performances have been.

Hamlin aims for a strong return after a self-spin while battling for the lead at Phoenix.

PICK 4 – Brad Keselowski

RFK Racing and Bristol Motor Speedway have become like two peas in a pod.

Team owner Brad Keselowski could change the narrative this weekend. The 40-year-old has won three times at Bristol including the last Spring appearance in 2020. Although they had missed the mark through much of 2022, Bristol came as an incredible showing for the reconfigured team as Keselowski remained in winning contention until a blown tire late in the race.

Can the 2012 Cup Series Champion snap his lengthy winless streak on Sunday?

PICK 5 – Chris Buescher

Speaking of Keselowski and RFK Racing, the pair has helped Chris Buescher establish a bond with the southern circuit.

The Prosper, Texas native shocked the 2022 September Night Race crowd. Despite not being in Playoff contention, the Ford talent avoided tire troubles and took advantage of pit strategy to win his second career race. Bristol was also his second-ever Cup Series Top 5 back in 2016. To prove it was no fluke, Buescher went on to another strong showing last year with a 4th place result and a night spent almost entirely inside the Top 10.

It can be risky putting him in your NASCAR Fantasy lineup having only four Top 10s in 14 starts. Even so, I like Buescher’s recent hot streak at Bristol and his second-place at Phoenix last weekend.

ALTERNATE OPTIONS

Ty Gibbs

  • Led 102 laps in 2023 Night Race with points in both stages
  • Three consecutive Top 10s, back-to-back Top 5s to start 2024 season
  • Won 2021 ARCA Bristol race in dominant fashion

William Byron

  • One of three drivers (Bell, Larson) to earn stage points in all four Next Gen races
  • Three straight finishes of 9th or better at Bristol
  • No finish this season worse than 18th

Michael McDowell

  • Four of last five Bristol races with finishes of 14th or better
  • 6th place Stage 2 and race result in 2023 Night Race

Chase Elliott

  • Back-to-back Next Gen Bristol Top 10s
  • Four Top 5s including runner-up in 2022 Night Race

HIDDEN GEM

Carson Hocevar

  • 11th place Bristol finish with Legacy Motor Club in only fourth-career Cup Series start
  • Back-to-back 15ths to start 2024 season

*AVOID*

Joey Logano

  • Poor overall runs in two Next Gen races with DNFs in both showings
  • No Top 10 in last six Bristol starts

Ryan Blaney

  • Seven finishes of 22nd or worse in 14 showings at Bristol (50%)

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Four Top 10s in 33 Cup Series starts since 2006
  • Worst overall statistical track in NASCAR career

NASCAR FANTASY: FEATURED MATCHUPS

Chris Buescher vs. Chase Elliott

Although I consider Chase Elliott as an alternate option for Bristol, we have yet to see his return to form. It looked like he was a threat to win last weekend at Phoenix. However, throughout the race, he slowly slipped back through the field winding up in a disappointing 19th. Chris Buescher has eleven Top 10s and three victories in the last 19 races.

Consistency and the aforementioned performances at Bristol have me confident in selecting Buescher.

Michael McDowell vs. Ryan Preece

This duel is closer than some may think. Michael McDowell’s competitiveness at Bristol is likely overlooked by the majority. The same can be said for Ryan Preece, who earned his second-career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at the Bullring in April of 2018. Also, he has three finishes of 12th or better in his six Cup starts (did not make Bristol start in 2022).

Stewart-Haas Racing looks way better to start this year than they ever did in 2023. Preece could pull this one off, but McDowell has shown me more to believe.

Brad Keselowski vs. Christopher Bell

The closest matchup on the board. Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell may go toe-to-toe all day. Keselowski is fresh off his first Top 5 and Top 10 of the season while Bell is hungry for more after winning at Phoenix. Who wants it more? Who will bring the better setup?

My NASCAR Fantasy pick will be Bell.

Carson Hocevar vs. Josh Berry

As written, Carson Hocevar worked magic in his first career Bristol start last year. Although Stewart-Haas is performing better, we have not seen what Josh Berry is capable of yet. A 20th at Las Vegas is his best finish so far in 2024.

If he does not ruffle anyone’s feathers, Hocevar will decisively take this pairing.

What is your NASCAR Fantasy lineup for the 2024 Food City 500? Tweet us @LWOSMotorsport. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.

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