Short track action continues in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after last week’s wreck-fest at Bristol. This week, it’s time for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. Although the track layout is different compared to Bristol, the ideal strategy for lineup construction at Richmond remains the same. That approach is to focus on picking drivers that will lead laps and place in the Top 10 over place differential.
RACE PREVIEW FOR TOYOTA OWNERS 400
Kyle Busch ($11,400 on DraftKings) is attempting to become the second driver to win three races in a row this season. In 25 starts at Richmond, Kyle Busch has 18 Top 10 finishes, 1,057 Laps Led, which is third of active drivers, and leads all current Cup drivers with four wins at the site. Since 2015 at Richmond, Kyle Busch has the best Average Running Position of 5.7, the fourth-best Average Finishing Position at 7.6, the highest percentage of Laps in the Top 15 at 95.6%, and the best Driver Rating of 109.3. Kyle Busch has finished in the Top 10 in four of his last five Richmond starts and he has the best AFP of 1.5 at short tracks this season. He was seventh in first practice, had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in both practices, and starts 32nd. Kyle Busch is really good on short tracks. While his practice speeds point to a Top 5 finish, his recent momentum makes him one of the favorites who will compete for the win. Kyle Busch also will be able to earn a lot of Place Differential points due to his starting position.
Kevin Harvick ($11,200) has finished in the Top 10 in each of the last three races this season. In 34 starts at Richmond, Harvick has three wins, 21 Top 10 finishes, which is the most of active drivers, and 1,061 Laps Led, which is second of all current Cup drivers. Since 2015 at the site, Harvick has the third-best ARP of 7.5, the second-most Laps in the Top 15 at 2,231, the third-most Fastest Laps at 175, and the third-best DR of 107.1. Harvick has the fourth-best AFP in the last two seasons at short tracks (8.5). Harvick was sixth in first practice, had the 10th best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts 10th. Harvick’s practice speeds indicate a finish around his starting position.
Brad Keselowski ($10,300) placed 11th or better in the last five Richmond races. He also led the second-most laps in last year’s spring Richmond race with 110. In 17 starts at the site, Keselowski has one win and seven Top 10 finishes. In the last three seasons at Richmond, Keselowski has the second-best ARP of 6.9, the most Laps in the Top 15 at 2,245, and the most Quality Passes (passes of cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions) at 252, and the second-best DR of 107.6. Since 2017, Keselowski has led the third-most laps at Short Tracks with 411. He was 10th in first practice, had the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts 28th. Expect Keselowski to continue his streak of finishing 11th or better at Richmond this week, with a good chance of placing in the Top 5 while scoring plenty of points from PD.
Kyle Larson ($10,100) is the most recent winner at Richmond. In eight starts at the site, Larson’s worst finish is 16th and has placed in the Top 2 in two of his last three starts. Since 2017, Larson has led the second-most laps at short tracks at 553. In the last three seasons at Richmond, Larson has the seventh-best ARP of 9.7, the third-most Laps in the Top 15 with 2,036, and the eighth-best DR of 93.0. He was second in first practice, first in final practice, starts fifth, and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Larson’s consistency in recent races at Richmond and his practice speeds both indicate that Larson will lead laps and compete for the win.
Denny Hamlin ($9,800) has finished sixth or better in his last five Richmond starts, which includes placing in the Top 3 in all of his last three starts at the site. In 23 starts at Richmond, Hamlin has three wins, 14 Top 10 finishes, and 1,653 Laps Led, which is the most of active drivers. Since 2015, Hamlin has the second-best AFP of 7.2, the fourth-most Fastest Laps at 156, and the fifth-best DR of 105.3. Hamlin was eighth in final practice, starts fourth, and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Richmond is one of Hamlin’s best tracks and his speed in final practice was better than most. Expect Hamlin to finish around his starting position with a chance of a placing in the Top 3.
Joey Logano ($9,500) placed in the Top 10 in each of his last eight starts at Richmond. He is also the defending race winner. In 18 starts at Richmond, Logano has two wins and 10 Top 10 finishes. Since 2015 at the site, Logano has the highest AFP of 4.8, the fourth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 2,020, and the sixth-best DR of 104.3. Logano was fifth in first practice, had the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts third. Richmond is a track where Logano always performs well, and this week will be no exception, as he finishes in the Top 5.
MID RANGE PRICED PICKS
Ryan Newman ($8,100) finished in the Top 10 in his last two starts at Richmond. In 32 starts at the site, Newman has 18 Top 10 finishes. Newman has the scored the best PD of all drivers in the past four Richmond races (30). Newman was 20th in first practice, 17th in final practice, and starts 14th. Based on practice speeds, Newman has a chance of finishing around his starting position, but as one of the more experienced drivers in the field, there is a good chance that he will rely on pit strategy to place even higher. Newman has utilized pit strategy well at other short tracks like Phoenix before with success, so do not be surprised if he stays out of the pits at one point to gain track position and place well.
Clint Bowyer ($8,000) is a former two-time winner at Richmond. In 24 starts at the site, Bowyer has 12 Top 10 finishes. Short tracks are Bowyer’s niche this season as he has the second-best AFP of 4.5. He has also led the second-most laps at short tracks with 215. Bowyer was 19th in first practice, fourth in final practice, and starts 16th. Based on his final practice speed, Bowyer has a great chance of finishing in the Top 10, but his momentum on short tracks this season makes him a candidate to place in the Top 5 at Richmond.
Alex Bowman’s ($7,100) best finish in four starts at Richmond is 28th. Bowman is one of the best performers at short tracks this season with a third-best AFP of 6.0. He finished in the Top 10 in his last two short track races and is coming off his best finish of fifth this year in last week’s race at Bristol. Bowman has the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice, was seventh in final practice, and starts 11th. Bowman’s practice speeds indicate a finish in the Top 10, which also allows him to gain a few points from PD.
Kasey Kahne ($6,100) has three finishes of 12th or better in his last four Richmond starts. In 28 starts at the site, Kahne has one win and 10 Top 10 finishes. Kahne was eighth in first practice, 13th in second practice, and starts 29th. Kahne’s practice speeds point to a finish in the Top 15, making him a great bargain value who will collect plenty of PD points.
Daniel Hemric ($5,900) is making his Cup Series debut this week at Richmond. In two starts at the site in the Xfinity Series, Hemric has two Top 5 finishes and has led laps in both starts. He was 23rd in first practice, sixth in final practice, and starts 22nd. As a newcomer, Hemric will likely focus on finishing the race without crashing, which is not easy to accomplish at Richmond, as short tracks are known for their high frequency of wrecks. He is one of the safer bargain picks because he will not try to be aggressive and take himself out of the race. Hemric’s practice speeds point to a finish around his starting position
Chris Buescher’s ($5,800) best finish at Richmond is 17th, which came in last year’s spring race at the site. Buescher has three Top 15 finishes so far this season. He was ninth in first practice, had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts 19th. Buescher has shown faster practice speeds than every other driver in the bargain value range and has a strong chance of placing in the Top 15.