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RaceDayScore NASCAR: Toyota Owners 400

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Toyota Owners 400

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

Race Preview

For the second week in a row, mistakes played a huge part in determining the winner. Carl Edwards was the beneficiary in Bristol, where he led from pole and went on to dominate 500 laps at the short track, as each of his teammates and other top contenders encountered trouble. This week features another of NASCAR Sprint Cup’s most exciting short tracks in Richmond. The 0.75-mile oval has much flatter turns than Bristol but is wide enough to offer drivers multiple lines through the turns. Brakes and track position will be important factors for drivers to work forward or maintain their leads, but mistakes can prematurely end a strong performance. Speeding penalties, loose wheels, blown tires and a litany of other issues will need to be avoided. Those teams who successfully navigate those obstacles will likely find themselves in position to score a top finish this Sunday.

Key Stats at Richmond International Raceway

Number of previous races: 119
Winners from pole: 23
Winners from top-5 starters: 67
Winners from top-10 starters: 92
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 10
Fastest race: 109.047 mph

Last 10 Richmond Winners

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
2011 spring - Kyle Busch

NASCAR’s short tracks tend to produce some of the most exciting racing on the calendar. That was no exception last week in Bristol, and the intensity will only build this week in Richmond. The flatter and wider turns allow for more openings for drivers to exploit as they work their way through the field; rubbing fenders will be no surprise. The track can be hard on brakes, but track position will be an important factor again this week. Most teams likely will decide on four fresh tires at every opportunity, after a number of tire failures last week in Bristol. The flatter and more abrasive circuit will have drivers begging for grip and pushing the limits of adhesion. Since the race has moved from night to afternoon, teams may struggle to find as much grip on the hotter track surface as they’ve grown accustomed to on the cooler night track, and that could produce similar outcomes to what we saw in Bristol.

RACE DAY SCORE VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,200
Kyle Busch - $12,100
Carl Edwards - $12,000

Tier 2 Values

Denny Hamlin - $11,700
Brad Keselowski - $11,600
Kurt Busch - $11,400
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $11,300
Matt Kenseth - $10,900

Tier 3 Values

Austin Dillon - $9,900
Paul Menard - $9,800
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,700

Long-Shot Values

Chase Elliott - $11,200
Greg Biffle - $9,500
Clint Bowyer - $8,800
David Ragan - $8,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $11,800
Brad Keselowski - $11,600
Kurt Busch - $11,400
Matt Kenseth - $10,900
Cole Whitt - $7,100
Jeffrey Earnhardt - $6,700

The lower-risk lineup option for Richmond features a number of the best short-track racers in the business. The two most expensive in this option are the Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. The pair was competitive in Bristol, but both encountered their own troubles. However, at Richmond they have a win each and are expected to be among the favorites this week. Kurt Busch is a two-time Richmond winner with 11 top-10 finishes from his 30 starts at the track. He finished third in Bristol and is the defending champion of this week’s race. While Matt Kenseth hasn’t banished his bad luck, he does remain quick. Again, it appears to be just a matter of time before things fall his direction and he captures a 2016 victory. Rounding out the selection are Cole Whitt and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Whitt has five Richmond races under his belt with a best finish of 30th, while Earnhardt’s only appearance came last fall. Both drivers recorded respectable finishes at Bristol, and can be expected to persevere and pick up opportunistic points along the way this Sunday as well.

Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $12,200
Kyle Busch - $12,100
Denny Hamlin - $11,700
Clint Bowyer - $8,800
Landon Cassill - $7,800
Michael McDowell - $7,400

After a strong Bristol race, Harvick leads the high-risk lineup. He led 13 laps last week and finished seventh while being one of the few cars capable of fighting effectively against the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Kyle Busch was one of those Gibbs drivers, but had right-side tires issues in Bristol. The team should have those problems solved for Richmond, and we all know how quickly Busch can rally from disappointment to return to winning. His teammate Denny Hamlin has been a confident racer on the short tracks in recent history. His two wins at the track came early in his career, but he finished sixth last fall while leading 14 laps. While Clint Bowyer’s top-10 Bristol finish last week was largely opportunistic, it was enough to take another shot on him at a short track. Similar circumstances could play out this week that would enable Bowyer to get back to scoring more reliable results, which would be a good thing for fantasy players. Finally, Landon Cassill and Michael McDowell fill out the required spots. The pair both scored top-30 results in Bristol and both improved from their starting positions, while Cassill even got out front to lead 20 laps.

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.