DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Richmond
The Sprint Cup Series moves to soggy Richmond for the Toyota Owners 400, the third short track race of the 2016 season.
Kevin Harvick ($10,600) will be on the pole after qualifying was wiped out Saturday due to copious rains in Henrico County. The No. 4 Busch Light machine was the fastest in Friday’s morning practice at 129.069 mph, and therefore he will now sit on the pole for Sunday’s race.
Harvick ranks fifth in Driver Rating (106.8) over past the five starts at Richmond, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, and he has run 95.1 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 at the track during the span. In his career he has recorded three wins, nine Top 5s and 18 Top 10s at RIR, while finishing outside of the Top 20 on just three occasions. Happy has also been out in front of the pack to lead 987 laps, second-most of any active driver, while posting an impressive 10.8 Average-Finish position. The winner has come from the pole position 23 times in 119 NCS races at the track.
No one could fault you by going with a one-two Stewart-Haas Racing punch, coupling Harvick with Kurt Busch ($9,100). He checks in second in the past five at Richmond with a 108.6 Driver Rating, 364 laps led and an AFP of 9.6. Overall, the elder Busch has rolled to two victories in 30 Richmond starts, cracking the Top 10 on 11 different occasions and posting a very strong 16.5 AFP while crashing out just once. Busch will go off seventh in Sunday’s race, and the eventual winner in 119 Richmond races has come from the 7th spot 11 times, most of any spot outside of the Top 3.
Also, SHR team owner Tony Stewart is also back from injury and making his season debut, but the announcement came well after DraftKings posted salaries for the current week so he cannot be used, just in case you were looking.
DFS owners will be looking to pair teammates, and with several lineups in tournaments and GPPs, you might find success that way. Another popular combination will be Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch ($11,000) and Denny Hamlin ($10,400). While the two JGR drivers rank first and third in DFS salary, with a little creativity at the bottom you will be able to squeeze them in.
Rowdy has been the King of Richmond over his career, leading all active drivers with four wins, 14 Top 5s and 20 of his 21 starts have resulted in Top 20 finishes. His 7.1 AFP is considerably better than any other driver, and he has led 940 laps. Chesterfield, Va. native Denny Hamlin is second in overall AFP with a 10.8 mark in 19 career starts, turning 1,404 laps at the front of the pack to lead all drivers. He also has two checkered flags, seven Top 5s and 10 Top 10s in his 19 starts at RIR. Kyle goes off ninth Sunday, while Hamlin will start from the fifth spot.
Penske Racing’s Joey Logano ($10,200) won the spring 2014 race, and he is looking to give manufacturer Ford its fourth checkered flag in six starts, spoiling the day for race sponsor Toyota. ‘Sliced Bread’ is fourth among all drivers with a 107.0 Driver Rating over the past five runs at RIR, posting 165 laps led and a 7.4 AFP, best among all active drivers. His teammate Brad Keselowski ($9,700) is a tremendous value, too. He is first in Driver Rating over the past five starts, and he has 10 Top 20 finishes in 13 starts with a 16.2 AFP in his career at the track. J-Lo starts second, while Kes will start from the sixth spot. A Penske one-two DFS punch is also a strong strategy.
Richmond hasn’t been Jimmie Johnson‘s ($10,000) best track, but he ran well in practice and will start in the third position. He is a bit overpriced based on his history at Richmond, as he has three career wins, but only 11 finishes in the Top 10 in 28 starts with a very ordinary 16.7 AFP. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,300) has won three times before at Richmond, too, but that last taste of victory was during the 2006 season. He has 27 Top 20 finishes in 33 starts, but over the past five starts at RIR he has led a total of just seven laps. Your money can be spent better elsewhere.
Martin Truex Jr. ($8,500) is one to avoid, posting just one Top 5 and five Top 10s in 20 career starts with only 48 laps led and a poor 21.9 AFP. And while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,000) was a sleeper last week and his DFS salary crept up as a result of a strong finish, avoid him this week. He has just one Top 10 in six tries at RIR with a 22.3 AFP. Stenhouse’s teammate Trevor Bayne ($6,100) should also be avoided after a big Bristol finish, as he has two starts at Richmond with 23rd and 24th place showings.
ON THE DOWN LOW
The low-priced guys are a necessity if you plan to stock your top two lineup spots with high-priced studs. Unfortunately for Cole Whitt ($5,300) he is OUT of Sunday’s race as posted the slowest practice speed among cars required to qualify on time. After leasing their charter to HScott Racing, Whitt finds himself on the outside looking in, while Clint Bowyer ($7,200) is in the field and starting 39th. Bowyer might be a tremendous DFS value, as he has an 11.3 AFP in 20 career starts, fourth-best among all active drivers. He has two wins, 12 Top 10s and 17 Top 20s while running in front for 348 laps. As a No. 4 or 5 driver, he is well worth a roll of the dice.
You’ll want to take a chance on Ryan Newman ($7,400), too. He ranks 10th in Driver Rating over the past five starts, posting a 10.2 AFP. Newman will start in the 14th position, making him a nice value since he has a win, 16 Top 10s and 26 Top 20s in 28 career starts at the track. Kyle Larson ($7,600) will start right behind him in the 15th spot, and he has never finished lower than 16th at Richmond in four career starts.
Aric Almirola ($6,300) is also a No. 6 option who might exceed salary expectations by a ton. While he has zero Top 10s in 10 races this season, Almirola has three Top 10s and six Top 20s in eight career starts at RIR for a respectable 16.4 AFP, which places him in front of Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, etc. He has never led a lap at Richmond, but he has also never finished lower than 26th.
Lastly, Jamie McMurray ($7,900) is a mid-tier guy who could surprise. Over the past five runs at RIR he ranks sixth in Driver Rating at 103.3, and he has pushed 94.5 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while turning in a 7.6 AFP, second only to Logano during the span.
If you’re really struggling for salary, Brian Scott ($5,600) finished 22nd in his first attempt at the track last season, and he practiced well to move into the 20th starting spot for Sunday’s race. He could be rather attractive. And if that doesn’t save you enough, Ryan Ellis ($5,100) will run in the No. 93 machine and he goes off 37th in the ScienceLogic Toyota for BK Racing. BK’s Matt DiBenedetto ($5,700) posted a career-best sixth-place finish at Bristol last week, and will start 36th at RIR. He could also exceed expectations again with a little extra confidence on his side.