The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Richmond, Virginia this week for the Toyota Owners 400. This is a great week to try your luck in a DraftKings contest and bring home some easy money.
Richmond is much different from the previous short tracks the series competed on this season (Martinsville and Bristol). Richmond is a D-shaped track that is .75-mile in distance. The extra quarter-mile and the shape of the track provide for high speeds for a short track. While drivers had to run the bottom of the track at Martinsville and the top at Bristol, they will have an opportunity to move around since there are multiple grooves to race this week.
In my articles earlier in the week I stated that looking at the stats from Martinsville and Bristol would be the best way to choose your drivers this week. After looking at more data for this race, the best way to select your team is to look at the results from Phoenix.
The cars used the same aero package at Phoenix and the tracks are similar in banking and size. Last year three of the five drivers who finished in the top five at Phoenix also finished in the top five at Richmond. In 2015 Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix and finished second at Richmond. His teammate, Kurt Busch finished in the top five at Phoenix and came back to win at Richmond. I think the cars that ran up front at Phoenix will be strong this week.
Here is a look at the driver’s finishing position and average running position at Phoenix to help you know who should be the best picks this week.
|2016 Phoenix Results|
|Driver||Finish Position||Avg. Running Position|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||5||17.0|
The cars from Joe Gibbs Racing all performed very well at Phoenix. They also dominated the first two races on the short tracks this season (Kyle Busch won at Martinsville and Carl Edwards won at Bristol). Fantasy teams should try to build their DraftKings lineups with as many drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing as possible this week.
If fantasy teams want to only use the results from the races last season at Richmond, they will find similar results to what happened earlier this season at Phoenix. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch were fast in the spring race and Joe Gibbs Racing was fast in the fall.
Here are the DraftKings points from the two races at Richmond International Raceway in 2015:
2015 Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond
2015 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond
*To see the full list, visit ifantasyrace.com.
The strategy for winning your DraftKings should be to take the fast drivers who start up front this week and pair them with some drivers who start in the back with a chance to improve their position in the race. This strategy will give fantasy teams the best opportunity to score maximum bonus points for fastest laps, laps led and position differential.
Drivers who start up front will have an opportunity to lead many laps this week. It will be impossible to finish in the money this week without having the drivers who lead laps. There are 400 laps in the race and 300 bonus points available for fastest laps and laps led. Fantasy teams must score as many of these bonus points as possible Sunday.
Pick to Win
Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) has won three races at Richmond in his career and he should get back to Victory Lane Sunday. Johnson loved his car in Happy Hour practice and he should because the No. 48 has a lot of speed. Johnson posted the fastest time in the practice and his car was the second-fast on the 20-lap runs. He starts the race third and should lead many laps in the race Sunday.
Kyle Busch ($11,000) had a rough race at Bristol, but I expect the No. 18 team to bounce back this week and make their way back to Victory Lane. Busch leads the series in wins at the track (4) and he finished second in the last race at Richmond. Busch should be motivated this week after the tire issues in the last race. Busch will start ninth and had the third fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Kevin Harvick ($10,600) has won two races at Richmond and he has run well at the track since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick has finished the last four races at Richmond in the top 14 and has led laps in three of them. He won the race earlier at Phoenix and he should be a favorite to win again this week. Harvick will start form the pole and had the fourth fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Carl Edwards ($10,200) enters the race this week after a dominating performance at Bristol. He led 276 of the 500 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Edwards also ran well at Martinsville (Finished 6th) and at Phoenix (Finished second). It is no secret that Edwards loves the new aero package. He will be fast Sunday. Edwards will start fourth and had the fifth fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Matt Kenseth ($10,100) has led laps in every race this season but he continues to be struck by bad luck. Sooner or later his season has to turn around and it could happen this week at Richmond. Kenseth ran well at Bristol (He led 142 laps) and Martinsville (He led 45 laps). Kenseth had his best finish of the season at Phoenix (He finished 7th). Kenseth will start 13th and had the sixth fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Kurt Busch ($9,100) has run well at Richmond in his career. Last year Busch led 291 of the 400 laps in this race on his way to Victory Lane. I would not be surprised if he won again Sunday. Busch finished sixth earlier this season at Phoenix and finished third last week at Bristol. The No. 41 car will be fast this week. Busch will start seventh and had the 12th fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Ryan Blaney ($6,800) has never competed in a Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond, but I am not worried about it. This young man is wise beyond his years and he has a fast car this weekend. Blaney starts the race 29th and he should quickly make his way through the field. Blaney was 13th fastest in Happy Hour practice and had the sixth-best 20-lap average speed. Blaney is a great pick for the price this week.
AJ Allmendinger ($6,900) has been one of the surprise drivers of the 2016 season. He has run well this season on the short tracks. He finished second at Martinsville and 19th last week at Bristol. Earlier this year he started 22nd and finished 17th at Phoenix. The No. 47 car should finish in the top 20 again this week. Allmendinger will start 10th and had the eighth fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Aric Almirola ($6,300) has had some bad luck the last two weeks but look for him to bounce back this week at Richmond. Almirola ran a great race at this track last September. He started 24th and finished fourth. I would not be surprised to see the No. 43 car finish in the top 15 Sunday. Almirola will start 24th and had the 29th fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Matt Dibenedetto ($5,700) is a great sleeper pick this week. He has run very well for his price on the short tracks this season. Dibenedetto finished 20th at Martinsville and a career high sixth last week at Bristol. He is a great pick for tournament contest this week. Dibenedetto will start 36th and had the 28th fastest time in Happy Hour practice.
Here are my picks for DraftKings for the Toyota Owners 400…
Tournament (GPP) Contest
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $10,600
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $10,000
Driver 3: Kurt Busch $9,100
Driver 4: Martin Truex Jr. $8,500
Driver 5: Trevor Bayne $6,100
Driver 6: Matt Dibenedetto $5,700
Cash (50/50) Contest
Driver 1: Jimmie Johnson $10,000
Driver 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. $9,300
Driver 3: Kurt Busch $9,100
Driver 4: Martin Truex Jr. $8,500
Driver 5: Ryan Blaney $6,800
Driver 6: Aric Almirola $6,300
For new players I suggest starting out with a $1, $3 or $5 Double-Up Contest. These contests are usually the easiest to win. Click here to sign up.