NASCAR DFS:  Toyota Owners 400

NASCAR DFS: Toyota Owners 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Toyota Owners 400

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

NASCAR Toyota Owners 400 Race Preview

The short oval of Richmond Raceway awaits the NASCAR Cup Series for the 133rd time this week after an intense road course race race a week ago. Tyler Reddick survived the multiple late-race restarts at Circuit of the Americas to claim his first win of the 2023 season, staking his claim to a spot in the championship playoffs. Reddick's win made him the fifth different winner this season and gave Toyota their first victory of the year. However, everything changes again this week as the first short-track action of the season gets underway at Richmond. Eight former Richmond winners are entered this week and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick won the two races at the track last season. Both drivers are winless so far in 2023 and are hoping to repeat their success this week. This week's race is the first in a stretch of three consecutive short-track stops with the Bristol dirt and Martinsville tracks coming up the following two weeks. 

Key Stats at Richmond International Raceway

  • Number of races: 132
  • Winners from pole: 23
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 73
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 100
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 12
  • Fastest race: 109.047 mph

Previous 10 Richmond Winners

2022 fall - Kevin Harvick
2022 spring - Denny Hamlin
2021 fall - Martin Truex Jr.
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

Richmond is a venue with a long history of NASCAR competition. It is also a place that typically allows veteran drivers to shine. Track position is arguably the most important factor in success at Richmond, and veterans tend to be shrewd in their ability to maximize that. The short 0.75-mile oval forced drivers to navigate traffic throughout a race, and maintaining positive track position from the start is often easier than trying to come forward from behind. That aspect makes qualifying more important than some other tracks. Drivers that stumble in qualifying will be charged with staying on the lead lap early until they can move forward out of danger given the short lap distance. Richmond's wide surface offers opportunities for drivers to adjust their lines to suit their tires and handling throughout a fuel run. For all of these reasons Richmond winners typically start inside the top 10, and fantasy players should look for the top times in practice and qualifying to make their selections. Like other courses, mistakes on pit road can be very costly, too. Cars down the running order early will look to leverage pit decisions to move forward, though. Track position can be gained from two-tire and fuel-only stops, and teams will use stage breaks to position their drivers to have the best shot at the win. 

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DraftKings Value Picks for the Toyota Owners 400 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

William Byron - $11,000
Kevin Harvick - $10,800
Kyle Larson - $10,600
Christopher Bell - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Denny Hamlin - $10,000
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,900
Kyle Busch - $9,700
Joey Logano - $9,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Ryan Blaney - $8,800
Ross Chastain - $8,700
Brad Keselowski - $8,300
Chase Briscoe - $7,800

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $7,200
Erik Jones - $6,600
Ryan Preece - $6,400
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $5,700

NASCAR DFS Picks for the Toyota Owners 400

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Christopher Bell - $10,300
Denny Hamlin - $10,100
Brad Keselowski - $8,300
Bubba Wallace - $7,500
Austin Dillon - $7,200
Erik Jones - $6,600

After four top-10s and three top-fives from five Richmond starts it is time Christopher Bell (DK $10,300, FD $11,500) to drive his car to Victory Lane. Bell led 63 laps in this race last season and then finished second in the fall return despite starting 21st. Bell knows what it takes for Richmond success and just needs that extra bit to get into Victory Lane. His teammate Denny Hamlin (DK $10,100, FD $12,500) is also exceptional at this track. Hamlin has four Richmond wins on his resume including this race last season. He finished second or first in three of the last four races at the track, leading laps each of those times. Early performances this season suggest Brad Keselowski (DK $8,300, FD $8,200) might get his first points win as an owner driver soon. He enters the weekend 14th in the playoff standings with two top-10s, including a runner-up finish at Atlanta. Keselowski is a two-time Richmond winner and finished in the top 15 at the track both times last season. He should be capable of a top-10 this weekend. 

There are two drivers fantasy players may want to consider in the $7,000 price range. First, Bubba Wallace (DK $7,500, FD $6,800) had one of his best Richmond finishes last fall. He qualified 11th and finished 13th in that race, which suggests he is finding his way forward at the track and should be capable of another top-15 there this time. There may be even more value for fantasy players in Austin Dillon (DK $7,200, FD $6,500). Dillon has five career top-10s at Richmond, including this race last season. He finished 16th in the fall race, which made it five finishes in a row of 16th or better at the track. Further down the price list is Erik Jones (DK $6,600, FD $5,800). His cost is a bit lower than usual this week largely due to two bad races at Richmond last season. However, Jones qualified in the top 10 in both of those starts and has been a regular top-20 finisher at the track through his 11 career starts.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $10,600
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,900
Ross Chastain - $8,700
Aric Almirola - $7,600
Austin Cindric - $6,800
Ryan Preece - $6,400

It is a little bit surprising to see Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle Larson (DK $10,600, FD $13,000) among the top choices for this week's trip to Richmond. Larson did win at the track in 2017, but he only has one top-five there since joining the organization. For that reason he is in the higher-risk lineup this week. Martin Truex Jr.'s (DK $9,900, FD $12,000) story at the track is different. He flipped the switch on short tracks a few years ago and has gone on to win three times at Richmond alone. He has eight consecutive top-10s at the track coming into this weekend and adds some more stability to this lineup. Ross Chastain (DK $8,700, FD $10,000) has been fast in 2023 nearly every week and that should continue Sunday, too. He led 80 laps at Richmond last fall but only finished 18th after contact. He has just one top-10 there in his eight career tries. 

Four of the last five races have been finishes of 30th or worse for Aric Almirola (DK $7,600, FD $7,500). He needs to break that slump and stands a good chance of doing that at Richmond. He finished eighth there last fall and has two other top-10s in the last five. Fantasy players will definitely be taking a risk given his current lack of momentum, but it could turn around in just one race. Austin Cindric (DK $6,800, FD $6,000) hasn't been the best out of the Team Penske stable so far in 2023. He has done enough to enter the weekend 12th in points, though. His finishes in 2023 have been up and down, but tend to put him inside the top 15 and he finished 12th at this track last fall, which is right in line with where he has been so far this season. Like others in this lineup, this week could be a time for Ryan Preece (DK $6,400, FD $5,200) to get some traction. Preece's best result this season was a 12th at Phoenix, which is arguably the most similar track to Richmond we've run on so far this season. Preece last raced a Cup car here in 2021 and his average finish from five starts is 24.8. However, this is a place where the driver can make a big difference and fantasy players know that Preece has the ability to get the job done.

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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