Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2024 Toyota Owners 400

To quote a friend of mine, this past weekend at Circuit of the Americas was certainly ‘a race that happened.’

If you listened to me and crafted your lineup based on mine, well, we’re sitting behind the wall with heavy damage. We’re going back to short track racing this weekend though, as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway.

Richmond is a 3/4-mile, D-shaped short track that produced some of the best racing in the sport in the past. The Next Gen short track package hasn’t helped restore that reputation, but the encouraging signs from Bristol a couple of weeks ago sparks a little hope for this race. This race also returns to its roots, as it is the first night race here since 2021.

This track is brutal to prep for as a crew chief, as its distinct turns require a tricky balance that you either hit or miss entirely. Adjusting the car as the track changes will be imperative if you want to find success. Track position will also be a key factor, as passing comes at a premium here.

Pay close attention to qualifying and practice on Saturday for a better indication as to who will be contenders. FOX’s TV coverage of the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond begins on Sunday, Mar. 31 at 7 p.m. ET.

See also
Through the Gears: Richmond Best Bets

Before we get to my picks, let’s break down the rules:

Points will be awarded on DraftKings for finishing position, position differential, fastest laps and laps led. The driver who wins the race scores 45 fantasy points, while second gets 42 points, third gets 41 points and so on, at least through the top 10. The 11th-place finisher scores 32 points, 21st gets 21 points and 31st gets 10 points.

However many spots they lose or gain on the track is added to or subtracted from the score. Then, if the driver leads a lap, they will earn 0.25 points for each lap led and 0.45 points for each fastest lap.

DraftKings NASCAR Scoring Rules

Fantasy Forecast

  1. Denny Hamlin ($11,200)

Stats that matter: Four wins, 22 top ten finishes in 34 Richmond starts and a career average finish of 8.5 at Richmond.

Could it really be anybody else at the top of this week’s lineup?

Hamlin’s most recent win here saved his 2022 season, and other than a 20th-place run last spring, he’s not finished any worse than fourth at the track since 2021.

What sticks out to me most when looking over the data about his record at Richmond, is that he has led at some given point in time in 24 of 34 starts here. Basically, it’s a matter of when, not if, Hamlin finds himself out front here.

He’s the highest priced driver this weekend, and for good reason. If you want to win your group, you need him. He will likely pick up any points your lower salaried guys won’t get you in spades.

2. Chris Buescher ($9,300)

Stats that matter: Won at Richmond last July, two top five finishes in last three Richmond starts, had never led a lap at Richmond before 2023 win.

After punching his ticket to the NASCAR Playoffs last season by winning here last season, I look for Buescher to have another solid weekend.

The win here last season, and also the win at Bristol Motor Speedway in late 2022, solidified his status as a name to watch for on short tracks. He finished 30th after starting seventh last spring, but I’d say that was definitely more of an anomaly than an indication. Prior to that, he finished third in the late summer of 2022.

If this team can figure out the right balance again here, we could them lock up a playoff spot at Richmond.

3. Joey Logano ($8,400)

Stats that matter: Two career wins, career average finish of 10.0 at Richmond, six top ten finishes in his last seven starts at Richmond.

Listen, I know Logano has had an abysmal season, and he’s averaging a worryingly low 15 fantasy points per race. He only has one top ten finish this season. But if there is anywhere he can turn his season around, it’s at Richmond.

The two-time champion has been exceptional at this track over the years, arguably just as good or better as Hamlin at times. His worst finish here is 17th in his last seven starts, and he’s been running at the finish of every Richmond race since joining Team Penske in 2013.

His season so far reminds of Hamlin’s early 2022, and where did he turn things around? Right here at Richmond. Look for the familiar red and yellow up front on Sunday.

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4. Brad Keselowski ($8,200)

Stats that matter: Two career Richmond wins, finished top 10 in both Richmond races last season, career average finish of 12.1 at Richmond.

The speed shown by his teammate last season here alone makes the 2012 champion worthy of this selection.

It’s been well documented at this point that Keselowski is still looking for his first win at RFK Racing, and there’s a good chance he could get it on any number of tracks on this year’s schedule. In my opinion, however, there could be no better place than Richmond.

As I said earlier, Buescher has been very good here as of late, and so has the boss man. He finished 10th in the spring race and sixth in the late summer, which indicates clear improvement each time this team unloads here.

Look for ‘Bad Brad’ to be a big factor on Sunday.

5. Ryan Preece ($6,500)

Stats that matter: One Whelen Modified Tour win at Richmond, only top 5 finish of 2023 was at Richmond, +15 finishing position differential in 2023 spring race at Richmond.

I know it seems like I always take Preece for short track races, but hear me out.

Last season, he got two top ten finishes to show for his 2023 campaign, and the best of those was a fifth-place run at Richmond. What really serves him at tracks like these, is his decorated Modified Tour career.

Preece could run last on Sunday or wind up in the top five somewhere, but I think since this roster is so top-heavy, you have to take a flier on a short track ace.

6. John Hunter Nemechek ($6,400)

Stats that matter: Two top 10 finishes in 2024 (No. 42 team had none in 2023), three straight top-five finishes at Richmond in the Xfinity Series, one career Craftsman Truck Series win at Richmond.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s got much of a chance at a win on Sunday.

However, JHN has been very, very good at Richmond over the years in the lower Series. Two straight runner-up finishes in the Xfinity Series, and the win for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the 2021 Truck race was pretty memorable. There is no doubt in my mind that he knows how to get around this place quick.

Will that translate to the Cup Series? I don’t know. He is on a bit of run after finishing sixth at Bristol a couple of weeks ago, and so far he’s outperforming his teammate Erik Jones by a large margin.

At this price, and with his track record here, I think this is a smart play.

Prop Bets and Locks

  1. Ty Gibbs (+900) to win: This guy is absolutely on fire right now. He’s put together an impressive five straight top ten finishes, and he has been in contention to win at Bristol, COTA, and Phoenix. He’s not knocking on the door of first Cup Series win, he’s kicking it.
  2. Alex Bowman (+125) vs. Chase Elliott (-165): Bowman is really starting to build momentum after back-to-back fourth-place finishes at Bristol and COTA. His recent success is in stark contrast to his teammate, who outside of his only top ten finish at Bristol, hasn’t had much success in putting a full race together this season.
  3. Josh Berry (+1400) as top finishing Ford: Returning to the site of his best career finish last season, Berry could very well be right back up front on Sunday. Sure, that runner-up finish last spring was in Hendrick Motorsports equipment, but this guy definitely knows how to get the job done. This is a risk that would deal heavy rewards should you choose to take it.

Well, let’s all hope for a better run this week. Good luck and happy betting!

About the author

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.

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