Fantasy NASCAR: Federated Auto Parts 400 Driver Picks

BY foxsports • September 6, 2016

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Richmond, Virginia this week for the Federated Auto Parts 400. This is one of the most exciting races on the schedule. Teams will have one last chance to secure their place in the Chase before the playoffs begin next week. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.

The Sprint Cup Series competed at Richmond in April. The race was dominated by the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. The team combined to lead 232 of the 400 laps. Each of the four drivers finished in the top seven. Carl Edwards qualified fourth and took the checkered flag for the second week in a row (He won at Bristol the week before). Building your fantasy around the drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing will be a smart strategy this week.

The best way to select your drivers for the race Saturday night is to look at which drivers performed well on the short, flat tracks this season. Phoenix, New Hampshire and Richmond are considered short, flat tracks and a similar car setup is required at each track. Here are the drivers who have performed well in these races this season...

 Top Drivers on Short, Flat Tracks in 2016 (3 Races) 
Driver Wins Top 10 Average Finish Average Running Position
Kevin Harvick 1 3 3.3 4.7
Kyle Busch 0 3 4.7 3
Matt Kenseth 1 3 5 9
Denny Hamlin 0 3 6 8.7
Carl Edwards 1 2 7.7 5
Jimmie Johnson 0 1 8.7 7.3
Joey Logano 0 2 9.7 12.7
Tony Stewart 0 1 10.5 17
Kurt Busch 0 2 12.7 6
Jamie McMurray 0 1 12.7 17.3

Track position will be important this week. The last five drivers who went to Victory Lane at Richmond started in the top four.  It does not take long for the leader to start lapping the field and this is a tough race for drivers to get their lap back.

Pit position will also be important since the pit stalls are tight at Richmond. Do not select a team of drivers who start outside the top 25 this week.  

The best strategy for Saturday night is to select a mixture of top drivers who start up front and some who start in the top 20. The scoring system for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. It will be too risky to select a complete lineup of drivers who start in the back of the field at Richmond. Although bonus points are nice, the key to scoring high is to have drivers who finish up front. That is hard to do at Richmond when a driver qualifies outside the top 20.  

Pick to Win

Carl Edwards ($13,000) should be the driver in Victory Lane if past stats mean anything. Edwards has two wins and a 3.5 average finishing position on the four short track races this season. He won the last race at Richmond by pushing his teammate, Kyle Busch out of the way on the last lap of the race. Edwards had the most dominate car in the first race at the track (Edwards led a series-high 151 laps) and he is my pick to win Saturday night.

Contenders

Kevin Harvick ($13,900) will be fast and the No. 4 will be one of the cars to beat this week. The question is... Will the pit crew be able to keep Harvick out front? It is a shame to see a car so good in the race lose track position because the team continues to have problems in the pits. Harvick has been the best driver this season on the short, flat tracks. I expect Stewart-Haas Racing to make some changes to the pit crew and allow Harvick to finish up front at Richmond.  

Kyle Busch ($10,300) is one of the most frustrating drivers in fantasy NASCAR. He is a boom or bust driver. The No. 18 either runs up front and dominates the race or has trouble and finishes in the garage. This should be a good week for the team. Busch had one of the cars to beat in the first race at Richmond. He led 78 laps and finished second. Busch has finished the last two races at the track in the runner-up position.

Denny Hamlin ($10,200) is quietly entering the Chase on a hot streak. While most people are talking about his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Hamlin has been running the best. He has seven consecutive top-10 finishes, including four finishes in the top five. Hamlin is at his best on the short, flat tracks. He has two wins and finished 11 of his 20 races (55 percent) at Richmond in the top 10. Hamlin is a safe pick for fantasy teams Saturday night.

Matt Kenseth ($10,200) is another Joe Gibbs Racing driver who should run up front this week. Kenseth won this race last year and he should be a favorite again Saturday night. He has been the third-best driver this season on the short, flat tracks. Kenseth finished seventh at Phoenix and Richmond and the No. 20 car went to Victory Lane at New Hampshire. Kenseth is one of the best picks for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing since he will probably qualify outside the top ten and finish in the top five.

Value Picks (Drivers under $9,000)

Martin Truex Jr. ($8,900) has not been one of the best drivers at Richmond in his career, but that has changed since Furniture Row Racing started an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. In the spring race Truex qualified 22nd and finished ninth. The No. 78 was one of the highest scoring cars in Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing (Truex scored 45 points). The No. 78 team will have momentum after their trip to Victory Lane last week at Darlington.

Chase Elliott ($8,900) cannot be counted out in any race. This rookie has proved that he can run up front at any type of track. Elliott qualified 23rd and finished 12th in the first race at Richmond (Elliott scored 51 points in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game). He needs another top-10 finish to make the Chase. Elliott is one of the best value picks this week.

Jimmie Johnson ($8,600) is a hard driver to trust. Last week it looked like he had the car to beat after winning Happy Hour Practice. The No. 48 finished the race in the 33rd position. Johnson should bounce back this week. He has three wins and 12 finishes in the top 10 at Richmond. Johnson qualified third and led 44 laps on his way to a third-place finish in the first race at the track. The No. 48 car is a good value for under $9,000 Saturday night.  

Jeff Gordon ($7,100) will be in the No. 88 car again this week. Fantasy teams pretty much know what to expect from Gordon this season. He will qualify inside the top 15 and finish inside the top 15. Gordon will be a long shot to win the race, but he is one of the safest picks in the field Saturday night. Gordon has five consecutive finishes in the top 10 at Richmond.

Here are my picks for the Federated Auto Parts 400 for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing:

Driver 1: Kyle Busch $10,300

Driver 2: Denny Hamlin $10,200

Driver 3: Matt Kenseth $10,200

Driver 4: Carl Edwards $10,000

Driver 5: Chase Elliott $8,900

 FOX Fantasy Auto Resources

Driver Owner Percentage

Driver Salaries

And don't forget - prizes are on the line each race of the fantasy season!  First, second and third place each win a prize.  Plus, each race builds your point total for larger segment and season prizes.

*Stats from Driveraverages.com and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info...

If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR) or LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook.



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