Race #9 of the NASCAR Cup Series season is this weekend at Richmond Raceway, another shorter flat track, making it three of the first nine races on this track type in 2021. The good news is that we now have strong 2020 flat track data as well as two flat track races from this season to look at, plus Richmond–like other shorter flat tracks–is relatively easy to predict who will finish up front. Last season we only had one race here at Richmond, and it was at night and in September, with Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr., and Joey Logano being the podium finishers. We’re back to two races here at Richmond this season starting with the Toyota Owners 400 here on Sunday.

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How the algorithm works: There are quite a few statistics that go into the Power Index formula, including recent performance both overall and at this week’s track specifically, similar track performance, projected strength of the car, practice speeds (when applicable), starting position, and a few other variables.

Before We Get To The Algorithm Results…Thoughts On A Couple Drivers

Ryan Blaney #12 Ford racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway during 2020 season
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Ryan Blaney – Usually with this section of the Algorithm article I’m explaining why the driver might be under-valued in the final rankings, but with Ryan Blaney, it’s the opposite. As you can see below, Blaney is projected to finish 10th here on Sunday in the Toyota Owners 400, but I’ll say right now: that high of a finish would be a surprise. For whatever reason, Ryan Blaney hasn’t figured Richmond Raceway out yet. His career average finish here is 24.8, and he’s never had a result better than 17th in nine career starts. Is Blaney eventually going to have a good race here at Richmond? Yes. Will it be this weekend? Possibly. Would I still recommend avoiding him in NASCAR Fantasy games? Absolutely.

Ryan Newman – Alright, back to the regular scheduled programming of drivers that the algorithm probably has under-valued. Newman is right in the center of the Power Index numbers this week, making him an average pick by NASCAR fantasy standards, but his potential is much higher than that. One, Roush-Fenway Racing is better than average on flat tracks, and that has been the case for a few years now. Additionally, the FRF Fords have been stronger than anticipated this season. And the cherry on top? Richmond is a pretty good race track for Ryan Newman. Over the last seven races here, “The Rocketman” has grabbed four top 10 finishes and has even gotten Stage points in five of the fourteen Stage breaks during that span.

Richmond Toyota Owners 400 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order

RankDriverPower
Index
1.Truex, Jr., Martin38.64
2.Larson, Kyle37.36
3.Hamlin, Denny36.58
4.Logano, Joey34.29
5.Elliott, Chase34.10
6.Keselowski, Brad32.74
7.Byron, William30.55
8.Busch, Kyle28.51
9.Harvick, Kevin27.89
10.Blaney, Ryan26.31
11.Busch, Kurt25.80
12.Bowman, Alex20.74
13.Bell, Christopher18.92
14.Dillon, Austin17.58
15.DiBenedetto, Matt15.75
16.Reddick, Tyler11.29
17.Almirola, Aric09.54
18.Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky05.50
19.Suarez, Daniel04.33
20.Newman, Ryan00.32
21.Jones, Erik-09.93
22.Cindric, Austin-13.15
23.Wallace, Bubba-13.41
24.Custer, Cole-13.65
25.Buescher, Chris-18.56
26.Chastain, Ross-21.37
27.Briscoe, Chase-23.54
28.McDowell, Michael-25.90
29.Preece, Ryan-26.84
30.Alfredo, Anthony-33.82
31.Haley, Justin-35.49
32.LaJoie, Corey-35.51
33.Bilicki, Josh-42.16
34.Ware, Cody-42.92
35.Smithley, Garrett-43.34
36.Davison, James-44.52
37.McLeod, BJ-44.56
38.Houff, Quin-44.98
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.