If last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway didn’t do it for you, there’s more short track action on tap this weekend for the drivers of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Toyota Owners 400 from Richmond Raceway could offer even more side by side racing than we saw at the Last Great Colosseum, but it also offers up an interesting quandary for daily fantasy NASCAR players setting their FanDuel lineups.
Why? Well, any lineup for this race is either going to be all about surrounding Kyle Busch with the best possible pieces to get into the money or trying to come up with some kind of contrarian strategy hoping he runs into trouble. The latter is entirely possible at Richmond, but it’s also risky to bet against Rowdy. Not only is he scorching hot in 2019, with 10 wins already across the three NASCAR national series, but he’s the defending champ of this particular race and once won it four years in a row (between 2009 and 2012).
Remember, too, that unlike other NASCAR DFS competitions, FanDuel doesn’t put all that much emphasis on leading laps and has less points up for grabs for place differential as well. That’s important for the pro-Rowdy crowd since he is starting fifth, which isn’t super far back but also means he might not be able to lead tons of laps right off the bat.
As always, we’ll take a look at drivers in multiple sections of the salary list to highlight the most promising building blocks for assembling what we hope will be a winning FanDuel Fantasy NASCAR lineup. Let’s fire up the engines …
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kyle Busch ($15,300)
Career at Richmond Raceway: 27 starts, 6 wins, 17 top 5s, 20 top 10s
AVG Finish at Richmond: 6.9
Sure, you don’t always want to roster the driver with the highest salary just because it puts so much pressure on you to find value in the last few spots on your team. But seriously, you have to at least consider Busch. He’s had a ridiculous amount of success at this track, and he’s even better in the spring race, where he is averaging a top-5 finish for his career. If ever there was an argument for spending nearly a third of your cap on one guy, this would be it.
Kurt Busch ($11,500)
Career at Richmond Raceway: 36 starts, 2 wins, 7 top 5s, 15 top 10s
AVG Finish at Richmond: 15.4
Your contrary Busch lineup could also be anchored by a Busch. Or you could team both Busch brothers and just hope they can match their 1-2 finish from Bristol. It seems unlikely, until you consider how good Kurt has looked for Chip Ganassi Racing this year and how well he’s done in this race in the post-Roush phase of his Cup Series career: 5 finishes of 11th or better in 6 starts, including a win.
Aric Almirola ($10,200)
Career at Richmond Raceway: 15 starts, 0 wins, 2 top 5s, 5 top 10s
AVG Finish at Richmond: 14.5
Before the power of Shazam failed him and he finished dead last at Bristol, Almirola had ripped off six top-10s in a row, arguably the best stretch of his Cup Series career. He managed multiple top-10 finishes even when he was in lesser equipment at RPM, and he’s starting 15th, so he could grab a few positional points if he works his way into the top 5 too.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
Daniel Suarez ($9,200)
Career at Richmond Raceway: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 2 top 10s
AVG Finish at Richmond: 11.5
Small sample size and all that, but Suarez actually has a better career average finish at this track than two of the drivers we’ve already listed. There always figured to be an adjustment period for him as he moved over to Stewart-Haas Racing, but Suarez is riding three consecutive top-10 finishes into Richmond, the earliest in a Cup Series season he’s ever managed that. He’ll start in the top 10 and feels like a great bet to stay there.
Ty Dillon ($6,00)
Career at Richmond Raceway: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 0 top 10s
AVG Finish at Richmond: 24.0
Okay, so the stats don’t back this one up, and it’s sort of a faith play. Still, if you’re going double Busch or some other expensive combo at the top of your lineup, you’re going to need some bargain points at the bottom, and Ty Dillon would qualify. He’s starting 30th and has never finished there or worse at Richmond, so he figures to move up, even if it’s just marginally. He’s also off to the best start of his Cup Series career and legitimately looked fast at times at Bristol, so this is a gamble that seems like it could work out.
FanDuel NASCAR DFS lineups need to be set by 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night for the Toyota Owners 400, so be sure to have things taken care of by then. And good luck!