Matty’s Picks 2015: Bristol – Part 1

It has been a couple weeks since you’ve heard from me, and I couldn’t pick a better track to make my return on. Not only is it one of the best venues on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit, but its one of the best venues in all of sports. From the 160,000 seats, to the extreme banking, to the tiny pit stalls, to the extreme speeds for a short track, Bristol is a bucket list race for any NASCAR fan, despite the claims that the racing was ruined in 2007 when the track was re-paved and progressive banking added. If you’re a fan of racing, Bristol Motor Speedway is on your list.

I watched my first race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August of 2002, amongst a sold out crowd of over 150,000 when I watched Jeff Gordon execute the bump and run on Rusty Wallace with three laps remaining in the Sharpie 500. I happened to be sitting with a Rusty Wallace fan at the time, who was not happy with the move, but later on admitted if the roles were reversed, Wallace would have done the same thing. It’s just the way things went back then, if you were not on the bottom, you were losing positions. With the progressive banking, drivers are using all parts of the track to improve their position. The top side can be as good as the bottom, and the middle groove offers a safe haven for drivers with ill-handling cars that will not make it to the bottom or for those without the courage to run up next to the wall.

I will save you all the grief of reading through my last few weeks of finishes, and let you know that I am sitting fourth in the CNY Sports Fans group and 12,044th on the FoxSports Fantasy Auto Leaderboards. I will let you know that I’ve finished second and third the last two weeks on my trek out of the basement.

Bristol Picks

Bristol is a tough race to handicap, and I’m going against the historical stats this week. If I was one to follow history this week, I’d be picking one of the two guys starting on the front row as the winner this week as 35 of the 108 races at Bristol have been won from the front row. Eighty-six of the 108 races have been won from a top-10 starting position, and more importantly 53 of the 108 races have been won from the first two rows. I threw away the old history at the track because of the repave and because only three of the fifteen races since the repave have been won from those first four starting spots, just one of the last nine… so since the repave, starting position has all but gone out the window at Bristol Motor Speedway.

1. Joey Logano – $12,800 – 6/1 odds
He doesn’t have the shortest odds this week, but he’s very close. Only Kevin Harvick is more expensive and has shorter odds this week. He won at Bristol for the first time last August, but he had a win from the front row in the 2012 Food City 250 XFINITY Series race. He was seventh in practice and quickest in the first two rounds of qualifying on Friday and will roll off sixth on Sunday, so Sliced Bread is worth the money this week.

2. Martin Truex Jr. – $10,300 – 25/1 odds
Sneaky good is Truex at Bristol. His only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory came at the one-mile version of Bristol and Truex is a winner at BMS in the XFINITY series. Truex will roll off 16th on Sunday, leaving room for passing differential, a nice statistic to highlight for the guy who is sixth in Green Flag Passes at Bristol Motor Speedway. Truex has also notched 570 Quality Passes at Bristol, which is good enough for fourth on the list in the last 20 races. Points to gain, and not much to lose is what has me turning to the single-car Furniture Row Racing car this week.

3. Kasey Kahne – $9,500 – 20/1 odds
Kahne won this race in 2013, and he will roll off eighth in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet on Sunday Afternoon. He won the only practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Friday and is also a past XFINITY Series winner at Bristol. This team has been quiet this year, probably the quietest out of all of the powerhouse teams, but he’s quietly sitting fifth in points this year and is looking for a win to seal his chances at the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

4. Kurt Busch – $8,700 – 7/1 odds
Apparently, Vegas feels a little bit differently than FoxSports on Kurt Busch’s chances of winning the 55th Annual Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes on Sunday Afternoon. This is a bargain pick at $8,700, as the five-time Bristol winner will roll off seventh this week. Keep in mind, this is the teammate of the most expensive and shortest odds driver out there this week.

5. David Ragan – $8,300 – 60/1 odds
He’s only one spot worse than Jimmie Johnson statistically at Bristol Motor Speedway, and the fill-in driver for the guy with fifteen NASCAR wins at Bristol Motor Speedway will roll off 11th after making the final round of qualifying on Friday Afternoon. He finished fifth at Martinsville back in March, his best Short Track finish since September of 2011 when he finished fourth at Richmond International Raceway. His start on Sunday will mark just his second start inside the top 12 on Sunday, so watch for him to hover around the top five on Sunday when the checkered finally flies in Thunder Valley.

That’s all for this week, so until we fire up the lights for the second time this season…You Stay Classy NASCAR NATION!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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