DraftKings NASCAR: Toyota Owners 400

DraftKings NASCAR: Toyota Owners 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Toyota Owners 400

Location: Richmond, Va.
Course: Richmond International Raceway
Format: 0.75-mile oval
Laps: 400

Race Preview

Jimmie Johnson rolls into Richmond International Raceway hot off the heels of his second consecutive victory this season. His win is bad news for the competition, and drivers like Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch will feel hard done thinking they could have won at Bristol. Only Johnson and Brad Keselowski have multiple victories from eight races so far this season, but it won't be long before the luck of others begins to change for the better. Larson still holds a comfortable championship lead over Chase Elliott, but the battle for playoff positions is heating up a bit further down the order. This week's race at Richmond is the second consecutive short-track race the teams will face, which could give drivers a great opportunity to score that elusive win before the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway makes its first appearance on the schedule. Toyota has dominated at the track in recent seasons, and Chevrolet has only made it to Victory Lane there once in the last seven races. Could this be the week that one of the Joe Gibbs Racing machines grabs their first 2017 victory?

Key Stats at Richmond International Raceway

Number of previous races: 121
Winners from pole: 23
Winners from top-5 starters: 69
Winners from top-10 starters: 94
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 10
Fastest race: 109.047 mph

Last 10 Richmond Winners

2016 fall - Denny Hamlin
2016 spring - Carl Edwards
2015 fall - Matt Kenseth
2015 spring - Kurt Busch
2014 fall - Brad Keselowski
2014 spring - Joey Logano
2013 fall - Carl Edwards
2013 spring - Kevin Harvick
2012 fall - Clint Bowyer
2012 spring - Kyle Busch

While Richmond and Bristol are both short ovals, the configurations are completely different. Richmond features a flatter banking around the circuit with more time spent turning each lap. The track used to be a hotbed for excitement and unpredictability, but the racing in recent seasons has been more processional in nature. It will be very important for fantasy players to pay close attention to starting position since no driver starting outside of the top five has won at the track since 2014. The difficulty of passing is one key reason qualifying is important, and teams will look throughout the race to leverage pit and tire strategy to gain or maintain track position. Being out front at Richmond is the best predictor of success, so teams will work to switch things up if they start to fade into the pack. Additionally, we've seen throughout the year that the fastest car early in the race isn't always the fastest at the end. Jimmie Johnson has proven twice now that continuing the work on the handling throughout the entire race distance still pays dividends versus racing for stage wins.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Kevin Harvick - $10,400
Kyle Larson - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $9,900
Brad Keselowski - $9,700
Chase Elliott - $9,500
Denny Hamlin - $9,300

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Clint Bowyer - $8,500
Erik Jones - $8,100
Ryan Blaney - $7,900
Jamie McMurray - $7,800

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000
Trevor Bayne - $6,800
Chris Buescher - $6,400
Aric Almirola - $6,200

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Kevin Harvick - $10,400
Denny Hamlin - $9,300
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,300
Aric Almirola - $6,200
Reed Sorenson - $5,000

After coming up short yet again last week in Bristol, Kyle Busch is poised to have a big breakthrough. He has been exceptionally close to victory this season and it is just a matter of time before he gets his win. Kevin Harvick is another winless driver in 2017, but with two consecutive top-fives in the last two races, as well as top-fives in both Richmond trips last season. He should be an excellent option this weekend. Backing up those two is Denny Hamlin, who has been one of the best at Richmond statistically speaking. He led 189 laps from pole position to win the fall race last year and finished sixth here in the spring. Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have just announced his intention to retire at the end of the season, but that doesn't mean he'll be laying back and coasting to the end. He was frustrated with last week's bad luck, but can redeem himself at Richmond where he has three career wins and a fifth-place finish last season. He is often a great Richmond option in this format since he doesn't typically qualify as well as he races. Aric Almirola has only finished outside of the top 20 twice this season, and is capable of a top-10 at Richmond. He is a confident selection this week alongside Reed Sorenson who offers up consistent positive finish differential at Richmond. Just pay attention to his starting spot, and switch out Cole Whitt if necessary.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $10,300
Brad Keselowski - $9,700
Clint Bowyer - $8,500
Ryan Blaney - $7,900
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,400

It is becoming difficult not to choose Kyle Larson every week after such a strong start to the year. He dominated much of last week's race and could be poised to do the same again in Richmond. He finished second here in the fall last season, and would love to add another win to his 2017 haul. Penske Racing was bit by a mechanical bug last week, but Brad Keselowski should be back strong this time. He is one of the best recently at this circuit with a win in 2014 and a fourth-place finish last fall. Fantasy players should also consider Clint Bowyer. Richmond has been a good venue for him, and after being as close to a win has he has been in multiple seasons last week now might be the time he is at his best. He struggled here last year, but had three consecutive top-10s here before that disaster. Ryan Blaney is another driver that was bit by the mechanical bug last week. He has yet to score a top-20 finish at this track, but with his pace this season he should feel very confident of landing his best-ever performance at the track this week. Roush Fenway Racing continued its rebirth last week, and another short-track opportunity presents itself for Stenhouse to pounce. He has one top-10 at the track and three top-10s in the last five races including both short tracks. Finally, Chris Buescher's may have been cut short last week, but will be anxious to regain his momentum this week. He raced exceptionally well at Martinsville and didn't get to prove his worth at Bristol. Look for him to step up and deliver another improved performance this week.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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