RaceDayScore NASCAR: Federated Auto Parts 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Federated Auto Parts 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

Federated Auto Parts 400

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

Race Preview

Only one more opportunity exists for drivers and teams who are not already locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup to book their ticket to the championship playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. proved that he is ready for the championship fight by winning his second race of the season last week in Darlington. Kevin Harvick had the fastest car throughout the race but came unraveled on pit road as his team forced him to overcome slow stops and he lost track position throughout the night. By the time the final miles of the race were underway Truex had slipped too far out of Harvick's grasp and the dominant driver was forced to settle for second place. This week's race at Richmond International Raceway represents the final event on the regular-season calendar and will determine which drivers will occupy the remaining Chase spots as the 10-race playoff format kicks off in Chicago.

Key Stats at Richmond International Raceway

Number of previous races: 120
Winners from pole: 23
Winners from top-5 starters: 68
Winners from top-10 starters: 93
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 10
Fastest race: 109.047 mph

Last 10 Richmond Winners

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
2011 fall - Kevin Harvick

The short Richmond International Raceway hosts a Saturday night battle this week that will determine the field for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. The oval used to be one of the most exciting circuits on the schedule, but has been dominated by quick cars recently. Each of the last four races at the track have been won by drivers starting inside the first two rows. Late gambles to gain track position with two-tire or fuel-only stops are required from teams looking to challenge the established order. The hopes of those gamblers would be that their driver is able to hold that positive track position long enough to either get back on pit sequence with the rest of the field or hang on until the finish. Many strategies will be at play this Saturday night as teams work to either book their spot in the Chase or take the final dose of momentum with them into the playoffs by scoring the final regular-season victory on offer in 2016.

(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,100
Brad Keselowski - $11,800
Joey Logano - $11,500

Tier 2 Values

Denny Hamlin - $10,900
Martin Turex Jr. - $10,800
Kasey Kahne - $10,700
Chase Elliott - $10,700

Tier 3 Values

Greg Biffle - $9,900
Aric Almirola - $9,800
Casey Mears - $8,800
David Ragan - $8,600

Long-Shot Values

Regan Smith - $8,300
Chris Buescher - $8,100
Michael McDowell - $7,500


Lower-Risk Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $11,800
Matt Kenseth - $11,500
Kurt Busch - $11,500
Aric Almirola - $9,800
Regan Smith - $8,300
Josh Wise - $6,900

Keselowski is ready to lead the lower-risk lineup for Richmond after a strong race in Darlington. He has one track victory and four finishes of 11th or better in the last five Richmond races. Kenseth is the defending winner of this race, and Kurt Busch has won here twice with three top-10 finishes in the last four races at the oval. Both of these drivers have been building up steam as the Chase approaches and either could for challenge for victory Saturday night. While Almirola has been having a difficult season, he has historically been at his best at Richmond. He has three top-10 finishes from nine starts there with two of those top finishes coming in the last four tries. Smith finished 20th last week in Darlington after starting 33rd. He has finished better than his starting position in four of the last five races and should do the same again this week while also having a shot at a top-20 finish. Wise is another driver who raced much better than he qualified at Darlington, and there's no reason to think that couldn't happen again this week.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Denny Hamlin - $10,900
Jimmie Johnson - $10,800
Chase Elliott - $10,700
Trevor Bayne - $9,900
Casey Mears - $8,800
Chris Buescher - $8,100

The higher-risk lineup option for Richmond offers more balance between the high- and low-priced drivers, but also takes some risks on folks who haven't had the greatest luck recently. Hamlin has had a good 2016 and should be strong at Richmond as well. He has two wins at the track with back-to-back sixth-place finishes in the last two races there. Johnson squandered another opportunity to completely extricate himself from his slump last week in Darlington but could be one to watch in Richmond. The former champion has won three times at this track and is on a run of four consecutive top-10 finishes there as well. One driver looking close to making a breakthrough for a win is Elliott. He finished 12th here earlier this year and has back-to-back top-10 finishes heading into this week's race. Last week's Darlington race was one to forget for Bayne, but he should be a confident top-20 play this week. He finished 17th here in the spring. Mears has been consistent in 2016 and fantasy players should reasonably expect a top-25 finish from him on Saturday. With a spot in the Chase on the line for Buescher fantasy, players should take advantage of his hunger to finish in the top 30 in points with a strong performance in the final regular-season race before the playoffs begin in Chicago.

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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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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