This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
Federated Auto Parts 400
Location: Richmond, Va.
Course: Richmond International Raceway
Format: 0.75-mile D-shaped oval
Denny Hamlin scored the first victory in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs after holding off Kyle Larson in the final laps. That win was his first of the season, one that seemed overdue given his pace throughout the season and came at the perfect time, as it gives him an early advantage by locking up his spot among the final 12 championship contenders. Darlington caused many in the championship field to stumble and many will be playing catchup in the next two races to ensure they join Hamlin among the final 12. The next chance for drivers to earn advancement comes this Saturday as the series returns to Richmond Raceway. Alex Bowman snuck the win out from under Hamlin at the track in April, and Bowman is one of the contenders looking to overcome a disappointing Darlington. Larson and Hamlin will line up on the front row for this week's race with Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch comprising row 2.
Key Stats at Richmond International Raceway
- Number of races: 129
- Winners from pole: 23
- Winners from top-5 starters: 72
- Winners from top-10 starters: 99
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 12
- Fastest race: 109.047 mph
Previous 10 Richmond Winners
2021 spring - Alex Bowman
2020 - Brad Keselowski
2019 fall - Martin Truex Jr.
2019 spring - Martin Truex Jr.
2018 fall - Kyle Busch
2018 spring - Kyle Busch
2017 fall - Kyle Larson
2017 spring - Joey Logano
2016 fall - Denny Hamlin
2016 spring - Carl Edwards
Just like Darlington last week, Richmond is a circuit where track position is king. The 0.75-mile D-shaped oval forces drivers to negotiate traffic throughout the night, and slower cars can fall behind quickly. Successfully making your way through that slower traffic could also impact the finish, as significant leads can be quickly erased by getting caught behind slower drivers. Richmond's wide and flat surface gives options for drivers to adjust their lines to what their cars can handle, but track position remains one of the most important factors. Ten of the last 12 winners at the track have started 11th or better, and having a fast car early in the race can give drivers a chance to trap much of the field laps down. Drivers at the rear of the field have little chance to gain track position. The short lap distance means heading to pit road off-cycle, which means losing laps to the leaders. Late caution periods could jumble the established order as teams gamble with strategy late in the race, however.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Last week's victory could have been the start of a string of successes for Hamlin (DK $10,400, FD $13,500). He is through to the round of 12 and has three victories in his Cup Series career at Richmond. Teammate Truex (DK $10,200, FD $14,500) will be ruing the late-race penalty that dropped him to the back of the field on the final Darlington restart. Instead of fighting for the win he was forced to charge through the field. Truex will want to right those wrongs this week where he has two prior wins and has led more than 100 laps in seven of his last nine track visits. Christopher Bell (DK $9,600, FD $10,000) ensures the lower-risk lineup is Joe Gibbs Racing heavy. There's a reason for that. The short flat tracks have been among the best for the JGR drivers this season, and Bell won three of his four Richmond Xfinity Series starts. Richmond has also been a nice place for Aric Almirola (DK $7,500, FD $9,200). He finished in the top 10 three of the last five visits there and has a best result of fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $6,700, FD $7,000) has been in consistent top-20 form for a few months. He has the 23rd starting spot for Saturday's race and finished 17th in the spring race. Corey Lajoie (DK $5,500, FD $4,000) seems like a bargain this week after putting together three consecutive finishes of 16th or better leading into this weekend's event. He starts 25th Saturday and is worthy of consideration this week.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Darlington probably isn't a good memory for Kyle Busch (DK $11,500, FD $13,000). His early exit due to contact puts him in a precarious spot in the playoffs right out of the gate. He can't afford another bad race and shouldn't this week considering he has six prior Richmond wins. He will also start 15th, which will give fantasy players finish differential points. Kevin Harvick (DK $9,100, FD $11,000), on the other hand, should be pleased with his start to the playoffs. He hasn't shown the speed to lead laps and fight for wins yet, but his veteran experience is earning him consistent top-five and top-10 finishes. Ryan Blaney (DK $8,600, FD $9,500) is in a comfortable position in the standings, but he can't afford a bad race this week or next. He has never scored a top-10 at Richmond, but by taking a cautious approach and focusing on the championship this week, he stands a good chance of changing that this week. Kurt Busch (DK $7,700, FD $9,000) also left Darlington comfortable in his playoff position. He will start on the second row this week and has two career Richmond wins. Busch's teammate Ross Chastain (DK $7,200, FD $8,300) showed his promise again last week with a third-place finish. He is showing the talent to win races at this level and has shown improvement as this season has progressed. He finished 15th at Richmond in the spring, which was his best series finish at the track so far. Ryan Preece (DK $5,800, FD $4,500) earns the last spot on the higher-risk selections. He has two 20th-place finishes from four Richmond starts and will also start 20th this week.