We’re sticking with the flat tracks this weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series hits Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday afternoon. So far, Martin Truex, Jr. is 2-for-2 when it comes to winning on flat tracks this year, grabbing the victories late at both Phoenix and Martinsville, and he’s also won two of the last three here at Richmond. Truex will be on the pole for Sunday’s race and you can click here to see the full 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.*
My Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for Saturday’s race at Martinsville can be found by clicking here! Also, if you enjoy the FREE NASCAR content on this site and everything it has to offer, consider supporting by donating here.
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Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Martinsville
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,200) – Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “but Jordan, you almost never pick the pole sitter in the Slingshot game.” And you’re right, it’s rare for me to do that. That’s just how good Martin Truex, Jr. is at Richmond Raceway. He’s starting on the pole so he has no place differential upside, but he’s also 2-for-2 when it comes to winning flat track races this season. Oh, and here at Richmond, Truex has led 109+ laps in five of his last six starts and is on a four-race streak of top 3 finishes (two of which were also wins). MTJ has the upside to lead the most laps, win both Stages, and win the race here on Sunday. I have no problem picking him in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, especially since he’s running that Auto Owners paint scheme.
Brad Keselowski ($12,000) – Yes, I know that Brad Keselowski was listed as “safe” pick at Martinsville last weekend, and then he went out and scored a whopping negative 22 points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, but unfortunately that’s just what happens when a race turns into a wreck-fest. Now Keselowski will start from back in 20th for Sunday’s race at Richmond and, once again, he’s a really safe pick. Keselowski is the defending winner here at Richmond and has finished 11th or better in each of his last ten starts here. He’s also led 30+ laps in each of the last four and has finished inside the top 6 in each of the last ten Stages here. In simple terms: Kez is very good at Richmond and has huge place differential upside. He could be the highest scoring driver in this Slingshot NASCAR Fantasy game even if he doesn’t win on Sunday thanks to the place differential.
Austin Cindric ($9,500) – Austin Cindric will be making his third Cup Series start of the season this weekend at Richmond, and since we’re still not having actual qualifying sessions, that means Cindric is starting dead last and is the safest option in the field for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Essentially all you need with Cindric in this spot is for him to survive the race, which he has done in his first two starts at Daytona (finished 15th) and Atlanta (22nd). We all know that Penske is one of the strongest at flat tracks, and Richmond is an easier venue for drivers than Atlanta–especially those with limited Cup experience. There’s no reason to not expect a top 20 finish out of Cindric on Sunday. Not that it translates much, but in the Xfinity Series, he has four top 5s and five top 10s in six starts here.
Christopher Bell ($9,200) – Want to save a few hundred dollars in salary cap and get off the Austin Cindric chalk this weekend? Or maybe want to have a similarly priced driver with top 10 finishing upside? Look no further than Christopher Bell. This #20 Toyota looked strong once again last weekend at Martinsville, ending up 7th when it was all said and done, and CBell is now 2-for-2 when it comes to top 10 finishes at flat tracks this year. At Richmond, he has just one Cup start under his belt, but a top 15th-place finish after starting 26th in Leavine Family Racing equipment is actually pretty impressive. In the Xfinity Series, Bell won three of the five Richmond races he ran and finished 6th and 16th in the other two. He starts 8th this weekend, which is why he’s listed in the “Risky” section, but this #20 Toyota has top 10 finishing potential and Stage point potential as well.
Austin Dillon ($8,800) – Same thing here with Austin Dillon as I just mentioned with Christopher Bell: this is a strategy play in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. I will note that Dillon is a little less risky since he starts a few spots further back (11th) and costs less in salary, but still risky in this game because these aren’t top tier guys, and they could both simply run in the teens all race. With that being said, Austin Dillon is somewhat surprisingly good here at Richmond Raceway, and he honestly probably had the car to beat here last season if penalties didn’t kill his night. Still, Austin finished 4th in that race and has now ended up 6th or better in three of the last four Richmond races. If he pulls that off again here on Sunday, that’s going to be a great Slingshot score for a driver priced under $9,000 in salary. It’s also encouraging that the #3 Chevrolet had so much speed at Martinsville last weekend, as that is a flat track like Richmond.
Erik Jones ($8,600) – Erik Jones has always been one of my favorite NASCAR Fantasy drivers. He’s won me a lot of money in DraftKings over the years. But with the downgrade to Richard Petty Motorsports equipment, the up-and-down Jones now somehow becomes even more risky–something I didn’t quite think was possible. This weekend at Richmond, Jones starts way back in 30th, which obviously means he has great place differential upside, thus good upside in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest game. But will he get the finish? Jones notched four top 14 finishes in his last six starts here with Gibbs/Furniture Row equipment, but Bubba Wallace struggled in almost every race here at Richmond with RPM, with four finishes of 25th or worse in five races. Now, is that a knock on the equipment, or is Bubba just not good here? For what it’s worth, Jones and this #43 team ran just 20th at Phoenix this year and was 30th at Martinsville. There’s definite upside here in picking Erik in the Slingshot contest on Sunday–he does have a couple of top 10s already this year–but risky might even be too weak of a word with this Richard Petty Motorsports car.
“Race Winner” Pick = Martin Truex, Jr. – The easy pick here is Martin Truex, Jr., and that’s likely who I will be going with. My algorithm likes him to win, common sense tells us that he should win, it’s kind of a no-brainer. But with that being said, I don’t mind going with another driver just to be different, since I’m assuming a whole lot of Slingshot players are going to be picking Truex this weekend. We’ve seen many times this year that NASCAR Fantasy players can have huge weeks if they zig while everyone else zags. My algorithm also thinks Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin will be major contenders on Sunday, as well as Joey Logano and Chase Elliott. If you read my article published on Monday, you know my favorite of that bunch is Larson.