Round One of the Playoffs continues this weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond, Virginia and the 0.75-mile flat track, Richmond Raceway. With this being the first (and likely only) race at Richmond this season, we don’t have any 2020 race data to analyze, but Goodyear is bringing the same tire combination that was used at Phoenix and New Hampshire this year. At Phoenix, pole sitter Chase Elliott led the most laps (93), while Brad Keselowski (82), Kevin Harvick (67), and Joey Logano (60) all led significant laps as well. It was Logano that ended up in victory lane at Phoenix. At New Hampshire, there were basically two leaders: Brad Keselowski (184 laps) and Denny Hamlin (92). They finished 1st and 2nd, respectively.
Kevin Harvick is on the pole for Saturday night’s race at Richmond and if you need to see the full starting lineup, you can do so by clicking here.
Speed Report in 2020 After Darlington-3
It’s no surprise that Martin Truex, Jr. was the “winner” in Green Flag Speed at Darlington last weekend. He clearly had the best car. That was his first “win” in this statistical category since Atlanta back in June, and his third “win” this season (he also ranked #1 in Green Flag Speed at Charlotte). Kevin Harvick was 2nd in Green Flag Speed at Darlington-3 and has now ranked 1st or 2nd in that category in four of the last five non-Daytona races.
Over the last six races here are the fastest drivers in terms of Green Flag Speed:
- Kevin Harvick (2.8 average rank)
- Denny Hamlin (4.7 average rank)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (6.0 average rank)
- Kyle Busch (7.3 average rank)
- Chase Elliott (7.5 average rank)
You can click here to check out the updated Cheat Sheet on Green Flag Speed and see how every driver ranks in that category plus more, not only for the last six races but for the whole season.
DraftKings Strategy for Richmond
We’re looking at a two dominator race on Saturday night, with the possibility of three. You need to have those guys in your lineup (well… unless they wreck). Over the last six races at this track, there have been at least two drivers with 89+ laps led in each and every single one of those races. In two of the last four, we’ve seen three drivers lead 89+ laps. Fastest laps aren’t quite as concentrated at the top, though, so that means the rest of your lineup needs to have solid finish and/or place differential potential. As I said before, Phoenix and New Hampshire are the most similar tracks to use as comps this week, and you can throw in Martinsville if you want. Some people also look at Indianapolis and Pocono because they’re flat, but with how large those two are, I don’t.
Last week at Darlington we had a long race. This weekend’s race at Richmond is much shorter (only 300 miles), but we’ll have more laps, as the Cup Series cars are scheduled to make 400 circuits around this 0.75-mile oval on Saturday night under the lights. A typical race at Richmond stays green for nearly 90% of the distance, so that means were looking at about 360 green flag laps, thus 360 opportunities for a driver to earn a fastest lap.
In total, we’re looking at 280 DraftKings dominator FPTS up for grabs on Saturday night–100 for laps led, and around 180 for fastest laps.
Now let’s talk about fastest lap breakdown. Over the last two years at Richmond, the driver with the most fastest laps is averaging just 14.58% of the total. The fastest laps are spread out here, as usually most of the field records at least one, and over the last four races here, there have been at least 7 drivers that have recorded 18+ fastest laps in each race. For the top three, here’s the breakdown over the last six races (three years) at Richmond:
- Driver with most fastest laps = 18.45% of the total
- Driver with 2nd-most fastest laps = 12.05% of the total
- Driver with 3rd-most fastest laps = 9.76% of the total
Just like at Darlington, there is a strong correlation between fastest laps and laps led, although the driver with the most laps led typically leads nearly half of the race. For fastest laps, we really haven’t seen that since the first race here in 2017 (when Keselowski had 100 fastest laps of the 339 possible). Here’s a breakdown of laps led over the last three years (six races) at Richmond:
- Driver with most laps led = 42.98% of the total
- Driver with 2nd-most laps led = 24.90% of the total
- Driver with 3rd-most laps led = 17.13% of the total
Not surprisingly, the driver with the most laps led at Richmond over the last six races has started inside the top 5 each time, and in both races last season, the three drivers that led any significant amount of laps all started 8th or better.
GPP / Tournament Picks I Love for the Federated Auto Parts 400
Brad Keselowski ($10,100) – I’m big on the Penske boys this weekend… well 2 (and a half) out of the three (and a half). Ryan Blaney ($9,500) may look like a good option because of his price and his 15th-place starting spot, but just know that he’s not good at this track… at all. Eventually every blind squirrel finds a nut, though, so this weekend will probably be the one for Blaney after I say that. Anyway… let’s talk about Brad Keselowski. He starts back in 9th on Saturday night but, honestly, should be a contender for the win. Let’s look at this year’s short flat tracks: at Phoenix, Kez led 82 laps and finished 11th; at Martinsville he finished 3rd; and at New Hampshire he dominated, leading 184 laps and winning. Additionally, combining last year’s two Richmond races with this year’s events at Phoenix and New Hampshire, Keselowski has the best average running position (4.5) in the series and the 2nd-most fastest laps (35.8 per race). Mark my words: Penske has something figured out on these shorter flat tracks, and that will pay dividends not only this weekend at Richmond, but also in the Championship race at Phoenix in November. By the way, Kez and Logano are both 9-to-1 to win the Championship right now. There’s some good value there in betting on them.
Joey Logano ($9,300) – On to Logano. As I said, I like Penske this week. Joey is starting on the outside pole, and while Kevin Harvick ($11,300) is on the pole, I still think Logano has a chance to lead the most laps on Saturday night. The reason? The #4 team isn’t as dominant at night. Yes, they can still win–we saw it at Darlington last week–but as far as a dominating performance, I’d rather have Harvick during the day. As far as Logano goes, he’s averaging 21.5 fastest laps per race over the last two Richmond races plus Phoenix and New Hampshire this year, and only him, Keselowski, and Harvick have put up double-digit fastest laps in all four of those events. Additionally, Joey has an average running position of 8.1 over those four races, which is 4th-best in the series. As far as track record goes, Logano has finished 4th or better in four of the last six Richmond races, and has won three of the last eight Stages here. I like Logano a lot this weekend, and I don’t mind pairing him with teammate Keselowski in lineups, either.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,500) – Here’s that “half” I referred to earlier. Wood Brothers Racing has an alliance with Penske Racing, so their operation is basically an extension–that’s why I call it a “half.” Anyway, Matt DiBenedetto made the Playoffs this year but many people accepted that he’d probably be a first round exit. Not so fast, though: I could see Matty D making this interesting. There’s no doubt that DiBenedetto is at his best on the high-skill and shorter tracks, and here at Richmond he posted a career-best finish of 14th last fall while in the #95 Toyota for Leavine Family Racing. Looking at this season, Matt finished 13th at Phoenix, 7th at Martinsville, and 6th at New Hampshire. Oh, and don’t forget, his average running position of 10.0 in those three races is 6th-best in the series. DiBenedetto starts 16th on Sunday and with a top 5 finish his $7,500 price tag could easily put him into the optimal lineup.
Cash Core Drivers I Love for the Federated Auto Parts 400
Kevin Harvick ($11,300) – I’ll gladly take the risk and bet against Kevin Harvick in GPPs/tournaments to try and win the huge prizes–well…relatively speaking, since DraftKings slashed all the contests with football starting again. In cash games, though? Why in the world would you bet against this guy? He’s on pace to have the best average finish we’ve seen since Jeff Gordon in 1998. This team is a contender for literally every race this year, and they will be here on Saturday night as well. I’m just not 100% confident that Harvick dominates. But still, there’s a chance; over the last two Richmond races plus this year’s Phoenix and New Hampshire events, Harvick has the most fastest laps per race (35.8) and also has the 2nd-best average running position (5.7). Here at Richmond specifically, Harvick has won three times and has finished inside the top 5 in six of the last eight races. One thing to note, though: he started on the front row in each of the last three here, and has only led a total of 70 laps (which equals 23.3 per race).
Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,900) – Last week still hurts. I almost needed reconstructive surgery on my jaw when Truex took himself and Elliott out with a handful of laps led, battling for the lead, as those two were the core for most of my DraftKings lineups. Can’t dwell on that, though. Martin Truex, Jr. is starting back in 14th on Saturday night and he should have been the highest-priced driver on this slate, but DraftKings decided to make him almost $1,000 less than Hamlin for some reason. Truex swept the Richmond races last year and has led 100+ laps in six of the last seven here. He’s led 163 or more in three of the last five. This #19 team is super fast right now and this has been there best track for years. Truex is a no-brainer cash lineup play.
Chris Buescher ($5,900) – Let’s try this again. Chris Buescher disappointed majorly at Darlington last weekend, but this is still the same guy that has finished inside the top 20 in six of the last seven Cup Series races overall. Here at Richmond, Buescher ran 22nd and 31st in the two races last season, but that was when he was with JTG Daugherty. Now he’s driving a Roush-Fenway Ford, and in addition to the superspeedway tracks, the flat tracks have been a bright spot for this organization over the years. On the shorter flat tracks this season, Buescher came home 17th at Phoenix, 13th at Martinsville, and 25th at New Hampshire. He will start from 25th here at Richmond on Saturday night.
Richmond Federated Auto Parts 400 DraftKings Projections
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems. Also included are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||14||$10,900||97.1||02.5||71||50||$112|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||23||$8,100||34.0||19.0||0||5||$238|
|John H. Nemechek||31||$6,500||24.3||25.7||0||1||$267|