The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Richmond, Virginia this week for the Toyota Owners 400. The race can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Fox. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game.
Richmond International Raceway provides some of the best racing on the NASCAR circuit. The .75-mile track is short track which races much larger than its size and shape. There are multiple grooves so drivers can search around to find the preferred lane that works well for their car.
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There are seven drivers (Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson) who have outperformed the field at this track. Make sure you select a few of these drivers for you team this week.
Fantasy NASCAR is a game of momentum. While it is important to look at which drivers run well at each track, it is also important to see which drivers finished up front in the last 4-5 races. Drivers with the most points in the last five races will have a good chance to run in the top 10 this week.
Track position is important at Richmond because the race is short and drivers can easily go a lap down. The scoring system for the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. Fantasy teams must select drivers who start deep in the field in order to score position differential points. Selecting drivers who start outside the top five but inside the top 25 will be the best strategy Sunday.
Pick to Win
Kyle Busch ($11,800) has been the driver to beat at Richmond. He has a series-high four wins, series-best 6.9 average finishing position and the third-most laps lead (1,018) in his 23 races at the track. The No. 18 team needs to overcome their tire issues and there is no better track for that to happen than Richmond. Busch almost won at the other two short, flat tracks (Phoenix and Martinsville). This is the week Busch finally gets to Victory Lane.
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Kyle Larson ($13,500) cannot be counted out at any track this year. He has been the most dominate driver and the No. 42 team shows no signs of slowing down. Larson has an average finishing position of 4.5 this season (not including Daytona). Richmond is not his best track but this team is so good this season that they can win at any track.
Joey Logano ($12,700) has been one of the most consistent drivers at Richmond and he has also been consistent this season. Logano has finished the last six races at Richmond in the top 10 and the No. 22 car has finished seven of the eight races in 2017 in the top six. Logano is the safest pick in the field Sunday.
Kevin Harvick($12,300) posted a pair of top-five finishes at Richmond last year. His average finishing position in the last eight races at the track is 6.75. Harvick excels at the flat tracks. It is surprising that we are eight races into the season and the No. 4 team is still looking for their first trip to Victory Lane. This could be the week when Harvick shows why he is one of the best drivers in the sport.
Jimmie Johnson ($11,500) is not the driver you want to pick against right now. The No. 48 team shook off their hangover after winning the 2016 NASCAR Championship and they are now back to their winning ways. Johnson has won two races in a row and there is a strong possibility they can score the hat trick this week in Richmond. Johnson has not won at Richmond since 2008 but his average finishing position in his last five races at the track is 6.8. Johnson should easily finish in the top five at Richmond.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500) has been one of the best drivers in each race this year. Truex has led 432 laps this season and his average finishing position is 8.6. The No. 78 was the car to beat in the last race at Richmond. Truex led a series-high 189 laps and finished third. This team is running well no matter what kind of track the series is racing on. Fantasy players should expect another top-five finish from Truex Sunday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,200) has been one of the best performers on the short tracks this season. He finished fourth at Phoenix, 10th at Martinsville and ninth at Bristol. Stenhouse does not have great stats at Richmond but he did not have great stats at the previous three short tracks as well. Roush Fenway Racing has improved this season and fantasy teams need to take advantage of Stenhouse’s cheap price.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($6,200) is still priced too low in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game. Earnhardt has three wins and 14 finishes in the top 10 at Richmond. The No. 88 team is having a rough season but they will likely turn it around sooner or later. Fantasy players need to take advantage of Earnhardt’s cheap price before it increases to where he is no longer a value pick.
Erik Jones ($5,300) is the best value on the board this week. He has top 10 talents with a bottom 30 price. Jones has never competed in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond but he has four Xfinity Series races at the track on his resume. Jones finished three of the four races at the track in the top five. Furniture Row Racing will give him a car fast enough to finish in the top 10 Sunday.
Daniel Suarez ($5,000) will be driving the car that won this race last year. That is enough to put him on the Value Picks radar. Suarez has never competed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond but he has competed in five races in the Xfinity Series at Richmond. His average finishing position at the track is 9.8. Suarez is worth a spot on your team because of his cheap price and the car he will be driving Sunday.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukNigel Kinrade
Here are my pre-qualifying picks for the Toyota Owners 400: