NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Toyota Owners 400
A thrilling race at Bristol last weekend saw Kyle Busch stay out on a late caution and hold off his charging older brother, Kurt, and Joey Logano, who had the dominant car of the afternoon, to win for the eighth time in Thunder Valley. Busch now leads the Cup Series with three wins and will look to add a fourth at one of this better race tracks this Saturday night at the 0.75-mile Richmond Raceway in Richmond, VA.
In DFS, this final race of the short track swing has us chasing similar parameters as last week. We will want to find lap leaders in this 400-lap race, but unlike at Bristol and Martinsville, there has historically been room to pass at Richmond, which means drivers starting very deep in the field may not be as huge of a detriment. Also, this track is a little larger, so the new aero package may play even more of a factor than the prior two short tracks.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about Richmond, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on recent driver history, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kyle Busch ($15,300): It's hard to lead this section with anyone but Kyle Busch with how he's dominated the top circuit this week, but I lead with him on salary order, not favoritism. Believe it or not, Rowdy is a little rich at this steep cost for my taste but obviously worth usual healthy exposure. The obvious reason is his current form, posting three wins and a 21st-century record eight straight top-10s to start the year. He's also won two of the last four at Richmond, leading 163 laps total. Fading Busch would be a mistake as he should be a factor just as he was at Bristol, but the concerning part at this price point is it never felt at Bristol that the 18 car was the one to beat, but rather just won with some strategy and the talent behind the wheel.
Kevin Harvick ($14,000): The fastest car in Bristol actually belonged to Kevin Harvick; it just wasn't very obvious because Harvick's chaotic inspection process and early loose wheel rendered him a non-factor early. He still made up a whopping four laps last week at Bristol and backed it up this weekend by winning his second pole of the year. Harvick hasn't led a lot of laps recently at Richmond, but as someone who owns 14 career top-fives at the track, he knows his way around. Harvick should use that pole position and advantageous pit stall to lead early, and if he carries even just a good portion of his Bristol speed to this weekend, it could be a long night for all his competitors.
Brad Keselowski ($13,200): Not to be lost with the other two is Brad Keselowski, who doesn't have a driver rating lower than 90.0 at Richmond since joining Penske Racing. Similar to Harvick, he has yet to dominate a race at Richmond but isn't the only one to boast that claim with Martin Truex Jr. hogging the laps led in recent years. Keselowski's practice times have not been stellar this weekend, but they weren't when he led 446 laps at Martinsville, either, setting a FanDuel record for fantasy points in race. Keselowski even briefly found the lead at Bristol before a tire problem, and Penske has been the dominant team thus far in 2019. From 12th, he even has a decent floor for place-differential points. Kes should be owned far less than some of his salary neighbors, and he could make as much noise as any.
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,700): As mentioned, Truex is gluttonous when it comes to laps led at Richmond since 2017. He's led 482 laps at the track and has balanced it out as he's also led more than 100 in four of the last five races here. It's been a struggle for Truex in 2019 to find his prior form that made him a champ, but he appeared to be on the right track last week at one of his worst tracks before a loose wheel took him out of second place. Now heading to his best track, Truex could find the lead quickly again from sixth. The competition will be stiff this weekend, but at nearly $3,000 less than Kyle Busch, Truex could provide great lineup balance were he to repeat his average performance here as your main source of laps led.
Denny Hamlin ($12,500): Yes, Hamlin makes five high-priced options, all with great potential, and this list of five even excludes the white-hot Joey Logano ($14,000). (UPDATE: Hamlin has failed post-qualifying inspection and will now start in the back. He is a high-upside place-differential candidate.) The Virginia native has three wins at this track and has by far the best place-differential upside of any of these five as he will start 18th after a sub-par qualifying run. Hamlin is quietly hot as he's finished in the top five in four of the last five races, including a win at Texas. He also posted the second-best single-lap speed in practice. Hamlin starting so deep in the field makes him a good stack with other options as you do not necessarily need the laps led you would with Keselowski, Logano, or Truex at their prices.
UPDATE: Chase Elliott ($12,000) has failed post-qualifying inspection and will now start at the back of the pack. Elliott had middling speed in practice but has run well on this track type recently, making him a solid source for place-differential upside.
Ryan Blaney ($11,400): Driving for NASCAR's current team-to-beat, Blaney pops as a reduced-salary stud who could pop this weekend. In the mid-$11,000 pricing tier, he should continue to feel like a bargain. He was fast and led laps at Bristol, and while he hasn't flashed that this weekend, Blaney starts 29th on the field after a qualifying issue. Blaney could score his points differently this weekend than last as a solid top-10 run would find value in the spot. This feels like a similar play to Kurt Busch last week where he was starting 30th in the field and -- even while being extremely popular -- was still in most tournament-winning lineups.
UPDATE: Aric Almirola ($10,200) has failed post-qualifing inspection and will now start at the back of the pack. Almirola finished fifth in last year's fall race at Richmond and is now a high-upside place-differential candidate.
UPDATE: Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) has failed post-qualifying inspection and will now start at the back of the pack. Johnson ranked just 24th in 10-lap average during Friday's practice, potentially making him less appealing than other options to have failed qualifying.
UPDATE: Erik Jones ($9,800) has failed post-qualifying inspection and will now start at the back of the pack. Jones was fourth in 10-lap average during final practice and is now a high-upside place-differential candidate.
UPDATE: Daniel Suarez ($9,200) has failed post-qualifying inspection and will now start at the back of the field. Suarez has strong current form and is now an additional source of place-differential upside.
Ryan Newman ($7,500): The upside for Newman comes from the starting grid, where -- starting in 31st after posting a top-10 last week -- he should ascend quickly past slower cars. Newman, though, has an interesting track history here. He actually owns top-15s in three of the last four and posted top-20 speed in practice. In a week to jam in studs, Newman should be a super competitive bargain option as the fourth most expensive driver in a FanDuel lineup, but he will be extremely popular.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,500): Matt DiBenedetto was excited about his chances last week at his favorite track and absolutely backed it up, finishing a solid 12th and running inside the top 10 for a lot of the day. No such track history exists this weekend as -- outside of a 16th-place run in this race a year ago -- he has yet to crack better than 28th. Still, DiBenedetto looks to carry in some momentum, and starting 27th, he has a safe floor as a discount option.
Ty Dillon ($6,000): While we are handing out "attaboys," Ty Dillon earned himself a pat on the back for winning the opening stage last weekend. Dillon used strategy to get the win, but he had to position himself to utilize that strategy first, which he absolutely did. Dillon parlayed that great run into a top-15 finish, and he actually has three top-15s in his last five races with two at short tracks. Those are incredible results for this pricing tier, and in a perfect situation, he also starts 30th on Saturday night, which creates a great high floor/upside spot for the younger Dillon brother. He is my favorite bargain option in any format, and may not be as popular as one would expect.
Ross Chastain ($4,000): Death, taxes, and a reliable finish from Ross Chastain. He did it again, starting 37th in the underfunded 15 machine and kept it clean for the afternoon to come home 29th. That sounds like nothing to write home about, but Chastain actually had more fantasy points per dollar last week than race winner Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer, among others. While some other sites have adjusted, Chastain's lack of upside has left him still at $4,000 on FanDuel, but none of that matters in cash, where the great inefficiency still exists. Especially with so many pricey options, don't be afraid to lean on the "Watermelon Man" for massive salary relief and predictability, which never hurts on a short track Saturday night.
UPDATE: Matt Tifft ($4,000) has failed post-qualifying inspection and will start at the back of the pack. Tifft had a decent car in practice (21st in 10-lap average) but has not finished better than 20th in 2019. He is viable as a punt play but not a must-have option.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.