Toyota Owners 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
Coming off a rare Monday race at Bristol, the short track action continues for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. The 0.75-mile oval is larger than Martinsville or Bristol, but thanks to the minimal banking in the corners, it still has the typical short track feel.
Of course, short track racing and a little bumping and banging go hand in hand, and while Richmond has traditionally been less chaotic than Bristol, this is still a track where even the big names will have the occasional bad day.
With that in mind, Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 is another golden opportunity to use some alternative lineups in the Yahoo game and save starts from the top options in each tier. I love what drivers like Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Erik Jones have to offer, but you won't find them in my lineups this weekend.
The risk just isn't worth the reward, especially when there are several drivers who excel at the short tracks who usually run more in the middle of the pack at larger ovals. You can build a quality lineup without using the top options, so take advantage, You'll thank yourself at the end of the year when the competition has burned up all their starts from the big names and are scraping together questionable lineups.
1. KYLE BUSCH, #18 M&M'S, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Richmond has always been one of his strongest tracks, and among active drivers, he ranks first with four wins and a 7.0 average finish. Busch has reeled off three straight Top 10s at RIR heading into Sunday's race, and he has three finishes of third or better in his last five starts here.
2. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
As his 10.5 career average finish suggests, Harvick has always been dependable at Richmond. He has been even better recently, reeling off nine straight Top 15s and notching four Top 5s in his last five starts at the track.
3. DENNY HAMLIN, #11 FEDEX, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
After a bit of a rough patch, Hamlin has returned to form at his home-state track. He has three straight finishes of sixth or better at RIR, including a win last fall. For his career, he is a three-time winner and his 10.1 average finish is the second best among active drivers.
4. JOEY LOGANO, #22 SHELL-PENNZOIL, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
Logano has been a Top 10 machine at Richmond since joining Team Penske, logging seven in eight starts. In fact, he has cracked the Top 10 in his last six starts here, winning the spring race in 2014. Logano should be one of the safest A-List plays this weekend.
5. KYLE LARSON, #42 TARGET, CHIP GANASSI RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
You should know by now that Larson is enjoying an excellent season, and he has already shown plenty of promise at Richmond. He has an 11.3 average finish in six starts here and has never finished worse than 16th. Meanwhile, Larson finished a career-best second at RIR in the fall race last season.
6. BRAD KESELOWSKI, #2 MILLER LITE, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
His win at Richmond in the fall of 2014 was one of the most dominating performances by any driver in recent memory. Over the last three years, Keselowski has finished 11th or better in five of his six starts at RIR, finishing fourth or better three times.
7. JIMMIE JOHNSON, #48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
It's been a while since Johnson visited victory lane at Richmond, but he has remained one of the more consistent drivers at the short track. He has finished 11th or better in his last five starts here, finishing third in back-to-back spring races. I'd probably save him for a track where he is more likely to win, but Johnson is definitely a safe A-List play this weekend as he goes for three straight wins.
8. MATT KENSETH, #20 DEWALT, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Kenseth has been a different driver at Richmond since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. He has finished seventh or better in six of his eight starts at RIR with the organization, winning the fall race in 2015 and leading a combined 537 laps. He could be a sneaky A-List play this weekend.
9. MARTIN TRUEX, JR., #78 FURNITURE ROW, FURNITURE ROW RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
His numbers at Richmond were already trending in the right direction, and Furniture Row Racing's alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing last year continued Truex's rise. He now has five Top 10s in his last seven starts at RIR, and he led 193 laps and finished third here last fall.
10. KURT BUSCH, #41 MONSTER ENERGY/HAAS AUTOMATION, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
Busch has been locked in at Richmond since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He has reeled off five straight Top 15s at the track, winning the spring race in 2015 and picking up a pair of Top 10s last season. He projects as one of the best B-List options Sunday.