Mike Forbes previews the NASCAR Truck Series at Bristol Motor Speedway!
In a season full of wildcards, this week, the NASCAR Truck Series as well as the Cup Series head to what could be the biggest one of them all. The Truck Series is somewhat used to racing on dirt, but putting the drivers on the high (although somewhat reduced) banks of Bristol Motor Speedway is going to make for a wild couple of days in Tennessee.
Throw in a handful of cup drivers of varying experience along with heat races and, for the first time this season, practice, and we have a lot to go over.
For starters, let’s look at how this race will go. Racing on dirt provides a bunch of new challenges. To start, the qualifying order, as well as drivers who will make the race, will be determined by 15-lap heat races. The draw for each heat race will be random, and drivers will be awarded starting positions based on points accumulated during these races. Drivers will get points based on where they finish in their heat race and how many positions they move up.
The feature race Saturday night will consist of 150 laps broken down into three stages. When a caution is displayed, the field will be frozen, and pit stops will be untimed, which means you cannot gain positions on pit road unless drivers do not stop. In that case, they will be ahead of the drivers who do.
What I am going to do in this article is break down drivers who we should expect to perform well. As the weekend progresses, we are going to have to pay attention to the heat races and find different avenues for value. We are going to be looking for a driver who may have got caught up in something during their heat race or perhaps started first and didn’t get the chance to pass many cars. We are not going to be able to find that driver who starts way at the back and comes forward unless they have trouble in their heat.
When it comes to the Truck race, we have a little more to go on than we will when we talk about the Cup series. Although not the same track at all, this isn’t the first time the series will race on dirt. The series has made regular stops at Eldora for the past few years, except for 2020. The wildcard is all the cup series drivers trying to gain experience for Sunday’s race and what effect they will have on the field.
The favorite in terms of Truck regulars has to be Stewart Friesen. In his last three races on dirt in the series, he has finished first, third, and second. He is one of the drivers who was raised racing on dirt tracks. As a matter of fact, his wife, who has plenty of experience racing on dirt, is also entered into the race in the 62 truck, and she has to be a driver to watch, as well.
Grant Enfinger has also had some success on dirt in the Truck series. He has finishes of second, third, and fourth in his career at Eldora, so he has the potential to challenge for the win.
The other favorites in this race may not be Truck series regulars. There are a total of seven cup regulars in this race, including Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Briscoe, Ryan Newman, and Daniel Suarez. Kyle Larson, who spent most of last year tearing up the dirt tracks around the country, is entered in this race. He and Friesen have to be the favorites.
Bubba Wallace is another one of the cup series regulars who is entered in this race and has a chance to win. He has had plenty of success on dirt before and has a win in Eldora in a truck.
Chase Briscoe did well when he was racing trucks at Eldora. He should be a factor in this race, as well.
There are a few cup series drivers who will undoubtedly be in many lineups, but that does not mean we need to fall into the trap of using them. These drivers have the talent to battle and get better during the race, and if they start far enough back, they could be worth a start. But these drivers are trying to gain experience for Sunday because they do not have much of a track record on dirt.
These drivers include Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., who are pretty upfront about the fact that they are not good dirt racers. I would expect them to do ok here, but they will probably be too expensive to use in most lineups. There will be better options out there for us, and they will probably be more under the radar and less rostered drivers, meaning we can win the bigger prizes.
Ryan Newman is also entered into this race, but he has a little more in terms of upside than Harvick and Truex Jr. I would consider Newman as a top ten driver, and depending on his price and performance in his heat races, he could be a driver to consider.
Myatt Snider, who races full-time in the Xfinity Series, will also be driving a truck this weekend. His only finish on dirt in a truck is 20th in Eldora.
Other strong Truck Series regulars we should be looking at include Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, and Sheldon Creed. All three of these drivers average top tens on dirt tracks in their NASCAR career.
Although there are 44 drivers entered into this race, there will only be 40 who make the main feature race Saturday night. Also, many teams have not named their driver for the race, so slotting them is going to be tough because, most likely, they will enter drivers who have dirt experience and most likely will perform well.
Strategy & Rankings
My strategy for this week is to rank all the known drivers as I do normally and then pay close attention to the heat races. As I mentioned, I am going to be looking for drivers who had some issues in the heat races and are at the top of my rankings. Then I am going to go with drivers who should be a threat to win. That strategy is kind of basic, but I feel like the vast majority of people who will be entering a lineup for this race may overthink this, and we can take advantage of that. This is not a week where we can read the article, set our lineup, leave it alone and feel good about it. We are going to want to pay attention to practice and the heat races before we lock in our lineups Saturday.
Here are my rankings for this week. There are a couple teams that have not listed their drivers yet, and some of them may be dirt racers who can affect these rankings. We also want to match these up against the starting lineup after the heat races. We are going to be looking for those values as well as making sure we are building the best lineup and not just taking chalk.
- Kyle Larson
- Stewart Friesen
- Bubba Wallace
- Grant Enfinger
- Chase Briscoe
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Matt Crafton
- Mike Marlar
- Sheldon Creed
- Ryan Newman
- Ben Rhodes
- Austin Hill
- Jessica Friesen
- Brett Moffitt
- Martin Truex Jr
- Chandler Smith
- Johnny Sauter
- Kevin Harvick
- Myatt Snider
- Todd Gilliand
- Tyler Ankrum
- Daniel Suarez
- Zane Smith
- Ryan Truex
- Raphael Lessard
- Chase Purdy
- Timothy Peters
- Hailie Deegan
- Tanner Gray
- Spencer Boyd
- Parker Kligerman
- Derek Kraus
- Jake Griffin
- Tate Fogelman
- Austin Wayne Self
- Jr Heffner
- Carson Hocevar
- Andrew Gordon
- Codie Rohrbaugh
- Danny Bohn
- Jennifer Jo Cobb
- Norm Benning
- Dawson Cram
- Trevor Collins
There is not a lot to talk about in terms of lineup construction just yet and probably won’t be until we get starting spots and pricing from DraftKings. I am going to be updating the rankings after the Heat races, so you have them in time for Saturday night’s race.
You can follow me on Twitter @mikejforbes for real-time updates!
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