NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Toyota Owners 400

If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, though!

numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

With all of this in mind, let's preview the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on FanDuel.

Weekend Primer

Event Time
Practice Saturday, April 2nd
10:30 a.m. EST
Qualifying Saturday, April 2nd
11:05 a.m. EST

A busy weekend schedule means another early rise for west coast NASCAR fans.

As we've seen in 2022, you'll want to be incredibly malleable based on what we see in practice and qualifying. If you exclude Atlanta as a drafting oval, each of the last three winners was top-six in single-lap practice speed.

We will once again go into this weekend pretty blind and lacking information. Phoenix, from three weeks ago, is a short, flat oval in this package, but they were shifting at a larger track down in Arizona.

Therefore, it's been a very successful strategy to target drivers who were fast on Saturday. That may change slightly with longer runs and heavier tire falloff that won't be evident in practice. But, it can't hurt if a good process play entering the weekend is also fast in practice.

General Lineup Strategy

Parity is at a modern-era high in NASCAR at the moment, but we'll probably still see dominant cars at Richmond on Sunday.

Out in Phoenix, Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe combined to lead 244 of the 312 laps. That's enough concentration to stick to our tried-and-true formula for NASCAR short tracks.

With 400 laps on deck in this one, you'll want at least two -- if not three -- cars that have a chance to lead significant laps. There are plenty of options.

Don't rush to sell out for place-differential points in the other spots, though. Of the last 30 drivers who finished in the top-10 at Richmond (three races), just 4 started outside the top-15 spots. Only two started outside the top-20 spots. It would be better to ignore place-differential entirely than go all in pursuing it.

Believe me, no one gets burned more regularly starting value plays closer to the front than yours truly. It's a necessary evil this week. The best value plays will start a little closer to the front than we're comfortable with, but at this 0.75-mile track, drivers are in immense danger of getting lapped each stage.

Driver Rankings

Below are my pre-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, track history, recent form, and overall talent level in that order. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in Jim Sannes' win simulations were included.

As a great indicator of overall speed, MLT Rank is the driver's average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend's. The prior races in the sample this week are: 2022 Phoenix (Spring).

For dominator viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to potentially lead laps and win the race if they start upfront. A "10" is among the favorites to win the race, and a "0" has no realistic chance to lead the race at any point.

For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to finish in terms of potential to finish inside the top-15 spots. These drivers will be better daily fantasy plays the further back in the field they start for optimal place-differential points.

Driver MLT

1 Chase
1 6.42% 10 10
2 Martin
Truex, Jr.
15 7.96% 10 10
3 Joey
9 10.16% 9 10
4 Denny
16 7.40% 9 10
5 Ross
6 6.88% 9 10
6 Kyle
8 7.30% 8 10
7 Ryan
3 5.66% 8 10
8 William
7 7.02% 7 10
9 Kyle
12 5.30% 7 10
10 Tyler
5 6.30% 7 10
11 Alex
11 6.64% 6 9
12 Christopher
23 3.70% 5 9
13 Kevin
4 5.70% 5 8
14 Chase
2 3.02% 5 8
15 Austin
10 1.60% 4 8
16 Aric
13 2.34% 3 7
17 Austin
31 1.42% 3 6
18 Brad
28 0.30% 2 6
19 Erik
20 1.10% 1 6
20 Kurt
14 0.46% 1 5
21 Ricky
Stenhouse, Jr.
29 0.60% 0 4
22 A.J.
NA 0.54% 0 4
23 Cole
18 0.56% 0 3
24 Justin
26 0.42% 0 3
25 Daniel
17 0.24% 0 3
26 Bubba
21 0.12% 0 3
27 Harrison
30 0.24% 0 2
28 Chris
19 0.26% 0 1
29 Ty
22 0.14% 0 1
30 Corey
25 0.04% 0 1
31 Michael
27 0.10% 0 1
32 Todd
24 0.06% 0 1

Joey Logano ($12,000) topping Jim's win simulations at just 10.16% tells the story -- this one could be anyone's race.

Logano had a strong run at the Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles, so he's already shown strength at a short track in this package. Plus, Logano has top-five finishes in five of his last seven Richmond starts. He's a high-floor, sturdy play, but the lack of top-end race-leading speed makes him tough to sell as a dominator.

My personal top option is Chase Elliott ($13,500). Importantly, Elliott had the best median lap time out in Phoenix. The last time the Cup Series visited Richmond, Elliott led 58 laps and rallied from a lap down to finish fourth. With the strongest track history and best speed in our only relevant race with time data, he's at the top by default.

Martin Truex Jr ($14,000) dominated the last stage to win at Richmond last fall, leading 80 laps along the way. However, poor showings in Los Angeles and Phoenix suggest his speed may not be quite the same in this next-gen car. He'll be popular because of prior Richmond results, but his path to failure is right in front of us.

Bizarrely, you'd have to tab Ross Chastain ($11,000) the championship favorite as of this moment, right? Chastain has four straight top-three finishes, and it's not great news for the competition that he was stellar at Richmond last fall. He had a top-10 average running position with much lesser speed week-to-week than he has now. I'm comfortable ranking him top-five this week.

When needing three different lap leaders, Ryan Blaney ($9,500) is the exact type of guy to target in the third spot of your lineup. He led 143 laps in Phoenix and was fast out in L.A. Blaney's history at Richmond is rocky; he's never posted a single-digit finish here. But, he's been among the best cars each week all season.

Jim's win simulations are lower on Kyle Busch ($12,500), Denny Hamlin ($10,200), and Christopher Bell ($9,000) than you might expect on a track they've dominated. So am I. None had a top-10 median lap time at Phoenix. Busch's strength at "The Clash" does provide a small bit of hope, but his salary is also the highest of this trio.

Both Stewart-Haas Racing guys in the mid-range are solid options. Kevin Harvick ($8,500) has top-10 finishes in 11 of 13 races at Richmond, and Aric Almirola ($8,500) finished 6th and 14th in his Richmond starts last season. They're great candidates if they start between 15th and 20th for top-10 upside with some place-differential juice.

The "horse for the course" this week is Austin Dillon ($8,000). His salary isn't a mistake; he's posted top-11 finishes in five of his last six races here. With Tyler Reddick ($10,800) having speed all year from the same team, Dillon is an interesting dark horse.

Veterans Kurt Busch ($7,000) and Brad Keselowski ($6,800) are guys I'd be willing to buy if their practice speeds are solid. Short tracks are more driver-oriented, and while their new teams have struggled with their speed at larger tracks, those guys behind the wheel can be great equalizers.

Practice will be the tell-all on value plays, but I'm expecting to be higher on rookie Justin Haley ($5,000) than veterans like Chris Buescher ($5,500) or Bubba Wallace ($4,000). Buescher and Wallace have cracked the top-20 spots just twice in 18 Richmond Cup Series starts, but Haley has an average finish of 3.3 in the last three Xfinity Series races here.