Toyota Owners 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
For the second week in a row, fantasy owners are tasked with their setting season-long lineups for a short track event. Richmond International Raceway will host Sunday's Toyota Owners 400, and finding a balance between reliability and upside will be the biggest challenge.
In the Yahoo game, it is all about finishing position. Unfortunately, short tracks tend to be a little more chaotic than some of the larger ovals, and while Richmond has been more fantasy friendly than Bristol, you still have to be smart about your picks.
I'd be hesitant to use drivers like Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott as my B-List when both guys have been running in the Top 5 at the bigger tracks on a routine basis. The same goes for a C-List driver like Erik Jones, who has shown Top 10 potential at the bigger ovals. There are plenty of other options with strong resumes at Richmond. You don't have to use the elite options this weekend to build a quality lineup.
In the NASCAR.com game, I'll be trying to find that balance between the dominator points and points in the place differential category. With 400 laps on tap, there are a lot of points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories. More importantly, it is common for one driver to lead 150 or more laps in a race at RIR, so the gap between the top scorer and everyone else is likely to be sizeable.
Don't forget that stage points are also included in the scoring this year, so even if a driver starting up front doesn't lead a lot of laps, they can still pad their point total by running in the Top 10 all race. With that in mind, I think you have to go with at least two drivers starting up front who have a chance to win the dominator categories, if not three.
In the FOX game, place differential bonus points are back in play this weekend after last weekend's qualifying session was rained out. With that in mind, you have to keep an eye out for potential sleepers starting in the back of the pack and big names lurking outside the Top 10.
Check out a complete look at all of my season-long fantasy NASCAR lineups, and make sure to set your lineups for Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Matt Kenseth (A)
Kenseth might seem like a bit of an odd pick considering his slow start to the year, but he has been a stud at Richmond since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. He has six finishes of seventh or better in eight starts at the track with JGR. He also starts on the pole, and in his last start at RIR from the front row, he led nearly every lap and won the fall race in 2015. I expect Kenseth to be one of the main contenders for the win Sunday, and if most of the competition avoids him, it will only help my cause if he runs well.
Kurt Busch (B)
Richmond has been one of Busch's best tracks in recent years. He has five straight Top 15s here, including a win in 2015 and a pair of Top 10s last season. Yes, he has been slumping a bit since winning Daytona, but his Top 10 effort in qualifying is a good indication that he is ready for another solid run at Richmond.
Clint Bowyer (B)
Bowyer has always been at his best at the short tracks, and his second-place run at Bristol last weekend was a big reminder that he is a darn good driver when he has legitimate equipment. He starts in the Top 10, and he is a two-time winner at Richmond in his career. I can't pass on Bowyer at a track where he is a race-winning upside.
Ty Dillon (C)
I went with Dillon at Bristol last weekend, and it worked out perfectly. Erik Jones had the best car among the C-List drivers, but he had issues and finished 17th. Meanwhile, Dillon did what he has been doing all year and avoided major trouble on his way to a 15th-place finish. He has now finished between 15th and 22nd in every race since Daytona. At a short track like Richmond where things tend to be a little more unpredictable, I'm sticking with Dillon and his dependable Top 20 results.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Martin Truex Jr. ($27.25)
Truex has been an absolute stud in this scoring system all season. He ranks second in both dominator categories in 2017, and he has been piling up stage points, as well. Truex has led 40-plus laps in five of the eight races this season, and he led 193 laps at Richmond last fall. He qualified third, so he could be back out front leading laps early and often Sunday. Truex is currently the top scorer in the NASCAR.com game, and he is in prime position to add to his total this weekend.
Matt Kenseth ($24.75)
He's been a bit of disappointment so far this season, but after grabbing the pole, Kenseth could be in line for a breakout performance. He has been a stud at Richmond lately, and in eight races here since joining Joe Gibbs Racing, he has led the second-most laps. He has also led a combined 492 laps in his last two starts from the front row at RIR, leading 352 in a win here in 2015. I wouldn't be surprised to see him dominate Sunday's race on his way to being the top scorer.
Austin Dillon ($20.50)
While the Dominator categories are crucial in a 400-lap race, Dillon is an absolute must-own driver now that he is starting dead last. It's not often that a driver who normally runs in the Top 15 is starting 38th, and Dillon has so much upside through place differential that he can post a nice score simply by flirting with the Top 20. If he happens to challenge for a Top 10, he could finish as a Top 3 scorer in this format.
Trevor Bayne ($18.25)
With Kenseth and Truex hopefully taking care of the dominator categories, I'll try to take advantage of Bayne's upside through place differential. He starts 29th, but he has been a consistent Top 15 driver all year, and he finished 14th and 17th in both starts at Richmond last season. He should gain 10-15 spots Sunday on his way to a strong point total.
Cole Whitt ($5.00)
Whitt has been my go-to source for cap relief at short tracks this season, and he has delivered. He finished 21st at both Martinsville and Bristol, gaining ten spots in both of those races. Starting 36th, he has even more upside through place differential this weekend and could end up posting a sneaky point total. At worst, Whitt is going to free up cap space and isn't going to hurt me with a negative score.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Jimmie Johnson ($11,500)
I'd love to anchor my lineup with Kyle Larson, but Johnson has identical upside through place differential, and the cheaper price tag allows me to build a much more balanced lineup. Plus, the seven-time champ is coming off wins at Texas and Bristol, and he has five straight finishes of 11th or better at Richmond. He qualified 17th, so he has room to take advantage of the place differential category. At worst, I expect around 40-fantasy points.
Brad Keselowski ($10,900)
Keselowski has been a Top 5 driver at almost every track this season, and he has been excellent at Richmond throughout his career. Whenever I can roster a driver starting outside the Top 10 who I feel can win the race, I try to take advantage. Keselowski starts 15th Sunday, so I recommend paying for him. He should land comfortably in the 40-point range.
Denny Hamlin ($10,200)
He has some of the best numbers of any driver at Richmond. In addition to owning the second-best average finish at the track, he has three straight finishes of sixth or better here, including a win last fall. He starts 16th, but he has a great chance of finishing in the Top 5. When you throw in place differential points, Hamlin could be looking at around 50 fantasy points when all is said and done.
Trevor Bayne ($8,700)
Bayne was off in qualifying, but his 29th-place starting spot adds a lot of upside to his fantasy value. He finished 14th and 17th in his two starts at Richmond last year, and he has a 14.3 average finish in 2017 with six Top 15s in eight starts. Bayne should have no issues topping 30 fantasy points, and I think 40-plus points is more likely. His affordable price tag is a nice bonus, as well.
Austin Dillon ($7,400)
Starting dead last, Dillon would be a must-own option in this format at any price. The fact that he is affordable just means you have added roster flexibility. At the very least, he should be able to sneak into the Top 20 Sunday, so he should cruise to 40-plus fantasy points. Meanwhile, he could creep into the 60-point range if he has a strong run. Take advantage of his high floor and even higher ceiling.