The NASCAR Cup Series travels to Richmond Raceway this weekend for some action on the Action Track.
Read on for my daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings picks for the Toyota Owners 400, airing on Sunday, April 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
Cup’s been going to Richmond since 1953, but the current length of 0.75 miles has been used since 1988. It’s mostly flat compared to ones like Bristol Motor Speedway, so it races a bit differently.
This week will be the third race using the new package for most short tracks; it was first used at Phoenix Raceway, so at least we have something to go off of for daily fantasy. Keep in mind that the caution came out late in that event and changed up the running order (Kevin Harvick, who led from lap 269 until Harrison Burton spun on lap 303, finished fifth).
You can also look at past Richmond races, especially last year’s events, to help you create your DraftKings lineups. Study which ones had speed both early and late.
Additionally, there will be practice and qualifying, as long as neither gets rained out on Saturday. Sessions are set to begin at 10:05 a.m. ET and air on FOX Sports 1.
Before I move on to my picks for Richmond, here’s a look back at what happened at Circuit of the Americas:
|DraftKings Salary||Driver||DraftKings Score|
Tyler Reddick grabbed his first Cup victory of the season and put up one of the best DraftKings scores. Chris Buescher also did well, surviving the multiple overtimes to finish eighth after starting 32nd. The main low point was Austin Dillon; he didn’t do so well in Austin, Texas.
Here’s a look at the DraftKings scoring rules:
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they finish. For example, if Joey Logano started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn .45 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.
Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues.
Here is the link to the league:
Now, here are my picks!
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($9,000-$11,000)
William Byron ($11,000)
Career at Richmond: 9 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 14.4
William Byron may have won Phoenix after two late restarts, but he had one of the fastest cars all day. His green flag speed was second only to Kyle Larson, and he had the best total speed ranking according to ifantasyrace.com. He also led 64 laps during the race.
At Richmond, Byron’s done fairly well there in recent races. Last season he placed third and 11th in the spring and summer races, respectively, leading 122 laps in the former. Additionally, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver placed seventh in 2021.
If he can perform as well as he did at Phoenix earlier this year, he’ll be a contender once again.
Kevin Harvick ($10,800)
Career at Richmond: 43 starts, 4 wins, 17 top fives, 29 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 9.7
Harvick’s fifth place in the desert wasn’t reflective of his speed, especially late in the race. He had the third best green flag speed, but his Closer nickname almost came to fruition at Phoenix. Now he comes to one of his best tracks, Richmond Raceway.
In 11 of the last 13 races at Richmond, the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing wheelman finished in the top 10. This includes eight top-five finishes, capping off with a win last summer. Harvick also was runner up to Denny Hamlin last spring.
This may be one of Harvick’s best chances to secure a victory in his final Cup season. If he does win, he’ll score well on DraftKings.
Christopher Bell ($10,300)
Career at Richmond: 5 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 4 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 6.0
Toyotas have been strong at the Action Track, and Christopher Bell is no different. He has the best average finish among active drivers, finishing sixth or better the past two years. He led 63 laps in the spring race, while in August, Bell drove from 21st to second and nearly closed in on Harvick late.
Bell seems to have started off the short tracks with similar speed this year, as he piloted his No. 20 of Joe Gibbs Racing to a sixth place at Phoenix. He had the fourth-best green flag speed and recorded 19 fastest laps.
Bell should rebound from a bad finish at COTA and earn a good result at Richmond.
Middle Tier ($7,500-$8,800)
Chris Buescher ($8,400)
Career at Richmond: 13 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Richmond: 23.6
Buescher wasn’t flashy at Phoenix, but he did hover in the top 15 on green flag speed, finishing 15th. Last week, he earned an eighth place at Circuit of the Americas. But the main reason why I chose him was because of where he finished last year’s races at Richmond.
In the Toyota Owners 400 last season, the No. 17 RFK Racing driver placed 15th. Buescher then followed that up with a third place in the summer race.
If his teammate and owner Brad Keselowski can help him find ways to improve his lap times, Buescher could earn another top 10 at the .75-mile track.
Brad Keselowski ($8,300)
Career at Richmond: 26 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 12.4
Speaking of Keselowski, guess who had the eighth-fastest green flag speed at Phoenix? That’s right, the No. 6. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish there, dropping to 18th by the end of the race. Still, that’s really good for a team that’s still working on getting better and potentially winning races.
Meanwhile, at Richmond, Keselowski’s last victory was in fall 2020 after he led 192 circuits. The past four results have all been about 15th, even in his final two with Team Penske.
Though that doesn’t sound promising, Keselowski’s quickness at Phoenix convinced me to keep him on my radar this week, as long as he doesn’t start in the top five like he did then (he scored just 14 points on DraftKings as a result).
Low Tier ($4,700-$7,300)
Austin Dillon ($7,200)
Career at Richmond: 17 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 5 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 16.2
“Dillon, again? But why, didn’t he finish in the 30s last week?” Well, yes, he had a very rough go at COTA. But two races before that at Phoenix, he advanced from 30th to 16th, scoring 41 fantasy points on DraftKings as a result.
Plus, he’s had some good results at Richmond as well. The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing driver gained 15 spots en route to 10th place last spring. Dillon had another 10th in the spring 2021 race and was fourth in fall 2020.
This new package might suit him a bit better than last year’s. If it does, look for Dillon to earn at least another top 15 this weekend.
Michael McDowell ($6,000)
Career at Richmond: 23 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 31.5
OK, so Michael McDowell hasn’t performed very well at Richmond. His best finish since 2016 was actually in the fall 2016 race when he placed 12th. He’s unfortunately finished mostly in the back since then.
So why am I playing him? Well, he showed a lot of grit and strength at Phoenix. McDowell began seventh and ended up 13th, which is not bad at all for the Front Row Motorsports driver. If he can just not start as far up in the top 10 like he did then, he should be fine at Richmond.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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