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NASCAR DFS: Federated Auto Parts 400 Lineup Tips

Fantasy NASCAR Expert Brian Polking provides his final lineup tips on DraftKings for the Pennsylvania 400!

Federated Auto Parts 400

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The Sprint Cup Series visits Richmond International Raceway, and when finalizing your DFS NASCAR lineups for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, it all starts with the laps led and fastest laps run categories.

There are 400 laps on tap, and as with any short track event, you can pretty much count on one driver leading at least 150 laps. There is very good chance that one driver scores in the triple digits at DraftKings, and if you don’t have that driver in your lineup, making up the difference is going to be impossible.

Don’t hesitate to pay up for one or two drivers who you believe will dominate the race and save money elsewhere. As long as you hit on the top scorer, the rest of your lineup just needs to be adequate for you to have a chance at cashing. If you miss on the top scorer, the rest of your lineup better be perfect if you want to have a chance at sniffing the cut line.

Get your DFS NASCAR lineups locked in at DraftKings, and check out the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Building Blocks

Kevin Harvick ($10,700)

Harvick is the ideal fantasy option in cash games because while he has a legit chance to lead laps and score points in the fastest laps run category, his 19th-place starting spot allows him to post a big point total without dominating the race. He owns the best average finish of any driver in the last ten races at Richmond, and he ranks in the top three in both laps led and fastest laps run at the track since 2005. Harvick is the total package.

Denny Hamlin ($9,500)

Drivers starting up front tend to lead a lot of laps at Richmond, and Hamlin led 381 laps the last time he started up front here. He also ranks first in laps led at the track overall, and he has led more than 200 laps four different times. He ranks second in laps led at RIR, and he has a pair of wins at the track. Starting up front, he is in prime position to lead the most laps and finish as the top scorer.

Difference Makers

Kyle Busch ($10,600)

His teammates, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, both outperformed Busch in qualifying and will probably be more popular picks, but “Rowdy” still starts in the top 10 and is no stranger to great runs at Richmond. In addition to his four wins here, he has led more than 1,000 laps overall, leading more than 200 on three occasions. He finished second at RIR last September and the spring race this season, and he has the upside you look for in a lineup centerpiece.

Kyle Larson ($9,000)

Larson has never had a bad performance at Richmond, but he has never had a top 10 at the track either. However, he enters Saturday’s race on an absolute tear, and he looks like a new driver now that he has finally scored his first Cup Series win. He qualified second, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him be one of the drivers to beat. He is a great contrarian candidate to dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories.

Kurt Busch ($8,600)

Busch starts fifth, and the last two times he has started in the top five at Richmond, he has led a combined 364 laps. Not to mention the fact that he led 55 laps in the spring race this season after starting in the top 10. No, he isn’t a sure thing, but Busch has the potential to be the top scorer and will cost you a lot less than the other top options.

Ryan Newman ($8,000)

I normally wouldn’t be interested in Newman after a 15th-place qualifying run. After all, he usually finishes in and around the top 15, so he wouldn’t make much noise in the place differential category. However, he is in a must-win situation this weekend if he wants to make the Chase, and I expect the No. 31 team to deploy every trick possible to try to steal a win. He is a great option to gamble on in GPPs.

Ryan Blaney ($7,200)

His lone Cup start at Richmond resulted in a 28th-place finish, and while Blaney may struggle with consistency at times, he also has top 10 upside. Starting 20th, he could make a run at 40-plus fantasy points if he has one of his better runs Saturday night. His price tag isn’t bad either, and the rookie is worth keeping in mind in GPPs.

Brian Scott ($5,100)

Cap space is valuable, and Scott can free up a lot with his price tag. He starts 35th, and while there is no guarantee he will move forward, he did manage a 22nd-place finish at Richmond last September. If he can just challenge for a top 25, he will be well worth the investment. If you are rolling the dice on a driver below the $6,000 mark, Scott makes the most sense.

Drivers to Fade

Austin Dillon ($7,800)

He qualified in the top 10, but in five starts at Richmond, Dillon has never finished better than 20th. Equally as important, he only needs a decent finish to make the Chase, so he isn’t going to be pushing the issue or trying for any extra spots. I expect him to fade a bit and finish in or around the top 15, resulting in a lackluster point total.

Jamie McMurray ($7,500)

McMurray has enjoyed plenty of success at Richmond in recent years, but he set the bar high with a fourth-place run in qualifying. Granted, he does have three top-five finishes in the last six races here, but he probably isn’t going to lead many laps, if any, and he is much more likely to lose spots than gain them. The risk outweighs the potential reward, especially when there are several drivers in this price range that have plenty of upside in the place differential category.

My Favorite DraftKings Cash Game Lineup

Kevin Harvick ($10,700)

Denny Hamlin ($9,500)

Chase Elliott ($8,400)

Greg Biffle ($7,400)

Chris Buescher ($6,700)

Paul Menard ($6,500)

Harvick has been the most consistent performer at Richmond in recent years, and qualifying 19th makes him a no-brainer option in cash games. Even if he doesn’t lead any laps, he should be able to post a big score based on his finishing position and place differential, and he is always a threat to dominate a race.

Even in a cash game lineup, you need a driver capable of leading a bunch of laps when 400 laps are on tap. Hamlin starts on the pole, and when he has started up front at Richmond, he has been tough. I expect him to score plenty of points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.

The rest of my lineup is filled with drivers who have tons of upside through place differential. Starting 34th, Elliott is a must-own driver in cash games. He could easily gain 20-plus spots.

Biffle, Buescher, and Menard don’t have the same upside, but all three start outside the top 25, so all three should provide around 30 fantasy points if they can just challenge for a top 20. Not to mention the fact that I can absorb a bad finish from any of these three and still have a chance to compete.

Checkers-or-Wreckers GPP Lineup

Kyle Busch ($10,600)

Brad Keselowski ($10,300)

Kyle Larson ($9,000)

Kurt Busch ($8,600)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,400)

Brian Scott ($5,100)

The four-time Richmond winner has three top-three finishes in his last four starts at Richmond, and he is always capable of a dominating performance at the track. He starts a little bit deeper in the field than some other top options, but Busch’s upside is on par with any driver in the field.

Most people paying up for a driver starting deeper in the field will gravitate toward Harvick. However, Keselowski has similar upside and could make a great contrarian play. He starts 17th, and he has led more than 100 laps in three of the last six races at Richmond.

Larson and Busch both start in the top five, so either driver could ruin my lineup if they have trouble and lose a bunch of points in the place differential category. On the flip side, they could put my lineup over the top if they run up front all night. Larson is as hot as any driver in the series, and Busch had a dominating win at Richmond last year. The potential is there.

With drivers like Menard, Biffle, and Buescher starting so deep in the field, I expect Stenhouse to be a bit overlooked as he rolls off 22nd. However, he has three finishes of 16th or better in seven races at RIR so that he could be a sneaky alternative source of cap relief.

Scott’s biggest asset is his cheap price tag, but he is also a relatively low-risk pick since he is starting 35th. Ideally, he can challenge for a top 25 and provide a decent score in his own right, but this lineup will ultimately live or die with my top four drivers.

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