The Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway marks the last chance for any driver to lock themselves into the Cup series playoffs. Since there are only two guaranteed positions left to make the playoffs on points, expect drivers to take huge risks to win this week’s race.
Richmond is one of Kyle Busch’s ($10,700 on DraftKings) top tracks statistically. In 24 starts at the site, Kyle Busch has four wins, 17 Top 10 finishes, and 1,019 Laps Led, which is third of active drivers. Since 2005, Kyle Busch has the best Average Finishing Position of 7.3, the third-best Average Running Position of 7.9, and the third-best Driver Rating of 109.8. He was third in first practice and starts seventh. Don’t be surprised if “Rowdy” finishes in the Top 5 as indicated by his speed in first practice.
Kevin Harvick ($10,500) earned his sixth Top 10 finish in eight races last week at Darlington. In 33 starts, Harvick has three wins, 21 Top 10 finishes, and 1,061 Laps Led, which is second of active drivers. He has the best ARP of 7.3, the most Laps in the Top 15 at 9,370, the second-most Fastest Laps at 672, and the best DR of 110.4. Harvick starts sixth and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Harvick has strong history at Richmond, but his final practice speed indicates a finish around his starting position.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400) is a strong fantasy pick no matter the track and until he starts underperforming, that will not change. Since joining Furniture Row Racing in 2014, Truex has finished outside of the Top 10 only two times. He has four finishes of eighth or better in the last five races this season. Truex was second in first practice, fourth in final practice, and starts fifth. Watch for Truex to compete for the win since he looked very fast in practice.
Kyle Larson ($10,200) finished 14th in his last start at Richmond. In seven starts at the site, Larson has never finished worse than 16th, but he has only one Top 10 finish. Larson has the seventh best ARP of 12.5, the fourth-highest percentage of Laps in the Top 15 at 74.3%, and ranks 10th in DR at 88.3. Larson was fourth in first practice, the fastest in final practice, and starts fourth. Based on practice speeds, Larson will finish in the Top 3 for the second time in his career at Richmond.
Denny Hamlin ($10,000) is the defending winner of this week’s race. In 22 starts at Richmond, Hamlin has three wins, 13 Top 10 finishes, and 1,653 Laps Led, which is the most of active drivers. In his last four starts at the site, Hamlin has finished sixth or better. He has the second-best ARP of 7.7, the most Fastest Laps at 744, and the second-best DR of 110.3. Hamlin had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice, was 10th in final practice, and starts second. Hamlin will finish inside the Top 10 as marked by his practice speeds, but look for him to finish behind his starting position.
Brad Keselowski ($9,800) finished second earlier this year and led 110 Laps at Richmond, which is the second-most of all drivers. Keselowski has three Top 10 finishes in his last four Richmond races. He has the fourth-best ARP of 11.5, the sixth-most Fastest Laps at 402, and the fourth-best DR of 96.9. Keselowski was fifth in first practice, seventh in final practice, and will start 15th. Keselowski is worth starting because his practice speeds point to a finish in the Top 10, while contributing points from Place Differential.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,600) has not finished in the Top 10 in 2017 since June, but he will make for a solid fantasy play this week. In 31 starts at Richmond, Johnson has three wins and 12 Top 10 finishes. Johnson has finished 11th or better in his last six starts at the site. Since 2005, Johnson has the eighth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 6,217, the ninth-most Fastest Laps at 343, and the eighth-best DR of 90.3. Johnson starts 20th and was 16th in final practice. His final practice speed points to a finish ahead of his starting position, allowing him to gain a small amount of points from PD.
Matt Kenseth ($9,000) led the most Laps at the last Richmond race earlier this season. In 35 starts at Richmond, Kenseth has two wins and 16 Top 10 finishes. Kenseth has three Top 10 finishes in his last five starts at the site. Kenseth was the fastest in first practice, fifth-fastest in final practice, and starts first. He has looked very good in practices and will compete for the win.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Jamie McMurray ($8,500) captured his 13th Top 10 finish of the season last week. In 29 starts at Richmond, McMurray has eight Top 10 finishes, five of which came in his last eight starts at the site. McMurray was 15th in first practice, 13th in final practice, and 11th in qualifying. Richmond is a favorable track for McMurray in recent years, but his practice speeds indicate a finish around his starting position.
Kurt Busch ($8,000) has been consistent in recent races, with four consecutive finishes of 11th or better. In 33 starts at Richmond, Kurt Busch has two wins and 14 Top 10 finishes. He has only one finish outside of the Top 10 in his last six starts at the site. Kurt Busch was eighth in final practice and starts third. Kurt Busch will finish behind his starting position based on his final practice speed, but will remain in the Top 10.
Ryan Newman ($7,200) is one of the best fantasy plays this week due to PD potential. Newman currently has three consecutive Top 10 finishes in the last three races in 2017. In 31 starts at Richmond, Newman has one win and 17 Top 10 finishes. Newman was 12th in first practice, 18th in final practice, and starts 27th. He will finish in the Top 20 because of his practice speeds, which look better than his starting position.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,000) secured his best career finish of fourth at Richmond earlier this season. In nine starts at the site, Stenhouse has two Top 10 finishes. Stenhouse was 10th in first practice, sixth in final practice, and starts eighth. Stenhouse has looked solid throughout practices and will finish around his starting position. That makes him a great pick considering the price.
Ty Dillon ($6,500) captured his 16th Top 20 finish last week at Darlington. Dillon has made one start at Richmond where he finished 26th after starting 24th. He starts 32nd, was 28th in first practice, and 23rd in final practice. Expect Dillon to pick up a couple of points from PD since his practice speeds are better than his starting position.
David Ragan ($5,500) is the best bargain below $6,000 this week. In 21 starts at Richmond, Ragan has eight Top 20 finishes, which include two in his last four starts at the site. Earlier this season, he started 30th and finished 19th. Ragan was 21st in first practice, 14th in final practice, and was 29th in qualifying. Look for him to finish around the Top 20 and to obtain a good amount of points from PD.