We head to Richmond Raceway this weekend for some SATURDAY NIGHT racing under the lights! Richmond is a 0.75-mile flat track that, in my mind, is kind of a cross between a short track and an intermediate, just with how it races and is set up. As far as similar tracks go, Phoenix is the closest, and you can throw New Hampshire in there as well. Joey Logano won at Phoenix earlier this year while he Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, won at New Hampshire. It’s fitting, then, that Goodyear is bringing the exact same tire combination to Richmond this weekend that they did to Phoenix and New Hampshire this season. Kevin Harvick is on the pole for Saturday night and you can click here for the Federated Auto Parts 400 starting lineup.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Richmond Saturday Night
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,800) – After last week’s, let’s say questionable decision with 15 laps to go at Darlington, Martin Truex, Jr. now sees his Playoff cushion at only 16 points heading into the second race of the first round. The good news? He’s damn good at this track. Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole is dominant at Richmond, but it was Truex specifically who swept the wins here in both races last season. He’s also led 109+ laps in six of the last seven races here. Now, I’m not sure we’ll see that kind of dominating effort out of the #19 Toyota on Saturday night since he starts a little further back in 14th, but Truex should for sure put up a huge score in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest thanks to the place differential. By the way, with Bristol coming up next week, Martin will be wanting another Richmond win more than anything, because historically he has not been too good in Thunder Valley, and his Championship hopes could be on the line with a bad finish here this weekend…
Denny Hamlin ($12,500) – Whenever you hear flat track, you likely think of Denny Hamlin. If you don’t, I’m going to guess you probably haven’t been playing Fantasy NASCAR very long. Anyway… he’s good at these venues. Here at Richmond, Denny has finished 6th or better in eight of the last nine races, and has an average finish of 9.2 over his 27 career starts (along with three wins). On Saturday night, Denny will roll off the grid from 7th thanks to his pit road blunder at Darlington, but that just means he actually has some room to get place differential points. He’s a contender for the race win this weekend and I want guys like that in my Slingshot lineup. For what it’s worth, Denny finished 2nd at New Hampshire back in August, which is the most recent smaller flat track we’ve visited.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,800) – You have to think that one of these races is going to finally have everything line up correctly for Jimmie Johnson… right? He had a great car at Darlington and ended up 18th, and that’s also where he will start on Saturday night in Richmond. As far as track history goes, Jimmie has three wins here–which is actually kind of low for him–but he’s been a solid finishing machine lately, with eleven straight results of 12th or better here. He’s came home inside the top 10 in four of the last five. At Phoenix and New Hampshire this season, Johnson came home 12th in each, and should be a little better than that (speed-wise) here on Saturday night.
Ryan Newman ($8,500) – With this lineup, there’s enough room to put in Tyler Reddick ($8,800) here, but as of this post (on Wednesday afternoon), I’m leaning toward the safer option of “The Rocketman” Ryan Newman. Maybe I’m still a little snake bit from Darlington, who knows. But anyway… Roush-Fenway Racing has a solid flat track program and last season Newman was able to sweep the top 10 despite starting back in 24th and 19th in those races. And in the second event when he started 19th, Newman actually came home 5th. On Saturday night, “The Rocketman” starts back in 21st so he should be able to pick up a decent amount of place differential points by the end of it.
Corey LaJoie ($6,100) – We’re not expecting much here, but since he’s starting back in 34th, as a top 30 out of LaJoie on Saturday night will equal 40+ fantasy points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, so he’s a decent low-dollar option. Corey finished 26th and 29th in the two Richmond races last year, and he has marginally better equipment this time around. Another note: the Trump campaign isn’t sponsoring the #32 Ford this week, so we should get a clean race out of Corey LaJoie on Saturday night. That’s not a joke or anything, when that has been the main sponsor, LaJoie has had a problem every single time.
Note: This is the first time in a while that I could go several different ways with my Slingshot lineup. This is what I have entered on Wednesday afternoon, but my thoughts could change by the time the race rolls around. To illustrate how “all over” my thoughts are with this race, other drivers I’m considering are: Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Bubba Wallace. One thing I do know for sure is that Truex will be in my lineup for Saturday night no matter what. I just need to figure out the rest of the lineup’s pieces.
Note Part 2: The other lineup I’m considering is: Martin Truex Jr. ($12,800), Chase Elliott ($12,200), Brad Keselowski ($11,400), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,500), and Corey LaJoie ($6,100)