Toyota Owners 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
For the second week in a row and the third time in four races, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is set to visit a short track. Richmond International Raceway is this weekend's stop, and the 0.75-mile oval will play host to Sunday's Toyota Owners 400.
Much like the first two short track events of the year, I will be focusing my lineup on the laps led and fastest laps run categories. With 400 laps on tap, there are more than enough points available in the dominator categories to carry the day, and I expect at least one driver to deliver a triple-digit score at DraftKings.
Qualifying should be a good indicator of which drivers you will want to build around this weekend. In six races at Richmond over the last three seasons, nine drivers have led 90-plus laps in a race at Richmond, and eight of those drivers have started sixth or better. In the same span, seven drivers have led more than 150 laps in a race at RIR, and seven of them have started in the top 6. There have also been three instances of drivers leading well over 200 laps during the last three seasons at Richmond, and all three of those drivers started third or better.
Make sure to check back after qualifying for updated picks and lineup tips. In the meantime, here is a closer look at the drivers I'll be targeting ahead of Sunday's Toyota Owners 400.
Kyle Busch ($10,600)
Busch had horrible luck at Bristol last weekend but that shouldn't stop you from using him in your lineup this weekend at Richmond. His four wins and 7.0 average finish at the track are both tops among active drivers. He ranks second in laps led, third in fastest laps run and has top-scorer potential.
Kevin Harvick ($10,400)
He has reeled off nine straight Top 15s at Richmond, finishing in the Top 5 in four of his last five starts here. More importantly, he is able to deliver in the dominator categories, ranking in the Top 3 in both laps led and fastest laps run. Harvick should be one of the safest options to build around this weekend.
Brad Keselowski ($9,700)
Keselowski has quickly been building one of the better resumes at Richmond. He has five finishes of 11th or better in his last six starts here, including a win in 2014. He has also been effective at scoring points in the dominator categories. Relative to the number of laps he has logged at RIR, his percentage of laps led and fastest laps run both rank among the Top 5.
Denny Hamlin ($9,300)
The Virginia native has enjoyed a ton of success at his home-state track. In addition to his three wins, he ranks first in both dominator categories. In fact, Hamlin has led nearly 19 percent of the laps he has run at RIR, easily the best rate in the series. He won the fall race here last year and has to be on the short list of drivers to build a lineup around Sunday.
Matt Kenseth ($8,800)
Joining Joe Gibbs Racing has transformed Kenseth into a force at Richmond. He has finished seventh or better in six of his eight starts, winning the fall race in 2015. Kenseth has also led 537 laps in his eight starts here with JGR, the second most of any driver over that span. With his upside in the dominator categories, he could be a useful contrarian building block this weekend.
Clint Bowyer ($8,500)
Bowyer's resurgent season with Stewart-Haas Racing continued with a second-place finish at Bristol and he should be in the mix for another Top 5 finish this weekend. He is a two-time winner at Richmond and ranks seventh in laps led. Regardless of how qualifying plays out, Bowyer should be a solid mid-priced play.
Jamie McMurray ($7,800)
McMurray has built a solid resume at short tracks, and Richmond is no exception. He has seven straight finishes of 16th or better at RIR, finishing as high as fourth on three occasions during that stretch. He has also gained at least 11 spots in three of his last five starts here, so he will definitely be someone worth watching in qualifying. If he starts in the middle of the pack or deeper, McMurray should be an excellent value play at this price.
Kurt Busch ($7,700)
He has been in a bit of a slump but Busch has been good enough at Richmond that I'll still consider him at this price this weekend. He has four Top 10s in his last five starts at RIR, including a win, and he ranks fourth in both dominator categories. He could end up being a difference-maker in GPPs.
Kasey Kahne ($7,600)
Kahne is one of the more underrated Fantasy options at Richmond. He has an 11.7 average finish over his last 10 races here, finishing sixth or better in three of his last four starts. He also ranks in the Top 10 in both dominator categories, ranking fifth in fastest laps run. If he has some upside in the place differential category after qualifying, I won't hesitate to use him at this price.
Aric Almirola ($6,200)
He has shown a safe floor at Richmond, finishing 21st or better in eight straight starts while posting a 14.6 average finish. In the same span, Almirola has cracked the Top 10 three times and has an average place differential of +8.9. If he starts outside the Top 20, Almirola should be a safe low-priced play, especially in cash games.
Ty Dillon ($6,100)
He remains surprisingly cheap each week despite the fact he delivers steady results. Since Daytona, Dillon has finished between 15th and 22nd in all seven races, cracking the Top 20 five times. If he starts in the back half of the field, you almost have to start him at this price.
Cole Whitt ($5,200)
Whitt has been an unsung hero for fantasy owners at short tracks so far in 2017. He finished 21st at Martinsville and Bristol, gaining 10 spots in both races. As long as he qualifies outside the Top 30, I won't hesitate to use him as a source of cap relief.