Who’s ready for some short track racing? NASCAR Cup Series drivers should be as they’re making the trek to Richmond Raceway this weekend. Let’s set your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups for the Toyota Owners 400, airing on Sunday, April 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
Richmond marks the first of three short tracks (or two and a dirt track) to kick off April and is 0.75 miles long. The race itself is just 300 miles, or 400 laps, as the sport’s Next Gen chassis moves to this track type for the first time since the sport’s February exhibition race in Los Angeles.
Like other shorter racetracks, Richmond has seen one or two drivers lead over 100 laps in recent years. So when you create your DraftKings lineups, you’ll need at least one of the dominators in order to earn a good score (because there’s 100 bonus points out there for laps led). This phenomenon happened a few weeks ago as well, as Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe crossed the century mark at Phoenix Raceway. Phoenix is the shortest track the Cup Series has run on to date.
Also, in previous Richmond races cars were lapped fairly quickly, leaving the majority of the top 10 starting in the top 15 spots. Occasionally, one or two drivers were able to gain several positions to finish in the top 15, but that didn’t happen so often without caution flags to bunch up the field. The last six Richmond races have had five caution flags or less; look for drivers who excel on long runs to plug into your lineup.
Instead of focusing mostly on position differential points, examine which cars have the most speed so you know who’s likely to lead laps. And keep an eye out for top-tier drivers who struggle in practice or qualifying; they could have a good score if they’re capable of working their way through the field.
Before I share my picks for Richmond, let’s look back at last week’s results from Circuit of the Americas:
Though none of these drivers won the race, all finished within the top 13, leading to some really good scores. Erik Jones gained the most positions of these drivers, which boosted his DraftKings total to 56 points.
This lineup won $1.50 in the Quarter Jukebox tournament and would have easily cashed the $1 single-entry double up.
As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each position lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the polesitter.
Here are their rules for the road this season.
Now, on to my picks!
Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this info to make your own.
DraftKings Picks for 2022 Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond
Kyle Busch ($9,900)
Career at Richmond: 32 starts, 6 wins, 18 top fives, 25 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 6.9
This track could be the place where Toyota breaks through for its first win of the season, and I’m going with the driver who has the most wins at Richmond. Though he last won in 2018, Kyle Busch has earned eight straight top-10 finishes here. That includes a runner-up result in fall 2019 in which Busch led 202 laps, following a spring race where he led 101 circuits before finishing eighth.
This year, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing pilot has a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a seventh at Phoenix. He led 49 laps in the Vegas race and nearly won, but the caution came out and three Hendrick Motorsports cars pitted for just two tires, allowing Alex Bowman to slip by and beat him.
Busch was also bad fast in the Busch Light Clash, leading 64 circuits en route to second place. If his team can get the setup right, he could be out front at Richmond and earn another good result.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,600)
Career at Richmond: 31 starts, 3 wins, 8 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 16.4
Martin Truex Jr. may be the more popular of the JGR stable on DraftKings due to his recent track history. He won last fall as well as both races in 2019. Also, he’s led over 100 laps in seven of the last 10 Richmond events. Last season, he was out front for 107 laps in the spring and 80 in the fall, posting an average finish of 3.0.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Truex has yet to end outside the top five at Richmond since the fall 2018 race.
He’s done well at other short tracks, too; in the championship race at Phoenix last year, the No. 19 Toyota led 72 laps before placing second. Truex also wheeled the No. 19 to a fourth place at Martinsville Speedway and a seventh at Bristol Motor Speedway last fall.
Though he crashed out of Phoenix last month, Truex should bounce back at one of his strongest racetracks on the schedule.
Ross Chastain ($8,900)
Career at Richmond: 6 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Richmond: 24.8
I’m finally jumping on the Chastain train this week after he earned his and Trackhouse Racing Team’s first Cup Series win at COTA. He led 31 laps but had to fight for the victory after the final restart, giving a bump to AJ Allmendinger in one of the final corners. The win was his fourth consecutive podium finish of 2022. He’s shown speed in each one, notching between 14 and 28 fastest laps. Chastain also led several laps in three of the last four events.
Now, his results at Richmond aren’t as flashy, but that’s because he ran for an underfunded team in 2018-‘19. Last year, when Chastain drove for Chip Ganassi Racing, he finished 15th in the spring and seventh in September, leading four laps in the latter event.
I would keep riding Chastain’s hot streak on DraftKings, as there’s no sign of him slowing down anytime soon. An eighth-place qualifying effort also could lead to position differential bonuses.
Kevin Harvick ($8,000)
Career at Richmond: 41 starts, 3 wins, 15 top fives, 27 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 10.0
I’m choosing Kevin Harvick for the second week in a row partly because of his strength at the 0.75-mile course. He has eight top fives and 11 top 10s in the past 14 races at Richmond, also taking the helm for 41 laps in the fall 2020 race. However, Harvick hasn’t won at this track since 2013, always falling a half-step behind the frontrunners.
That said, the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing driver has recorded some good DraftKings scores this year. Harvick went from 32nd to seventh at Auto Club Speedway in February and scored 62.3 fantasy points. Then, at Las Vegas, he gained 13 spots to end in 12th and followed that up with a sixth place at Phoenix. In the latter race, he also recorded 20 fastest laps, indicating that he’s still got some speed in his Ford Mustang on the shorter tracks.
A seventh-place qualifying spot should have Harvick landing on your roster in short order.
Dark Horse Performers
Austin Dillon ($7,000)
Career at Richmond: 15 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 4 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 16.6
Dillon has done fairly well recently at America’s Premier Short Track; in 2021, he was 10th and 11th in the spring and fall races, respectively. Also, Dillon was fourth in 2020, leading a career-best 55 laps in the effort. Lastly, he snagged back-to-back sixth places in fall 2018 and spring 2019, respectively.
Some might think of Dillon as an intermediate expert. But the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing driver has been working to change that. He finished 17th or better in nine of the past 10 races at tracks 1 mile or less (including Phoenix, Dover Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway).
Last week, Dillon grabbed his second top 10 of the year at COTA after starting 21st. He also was second at Auto Club in February. Though he struggled at Phoenix in March (21st), a better performance could be in store at Richmond this week.
Justin Haley ($6,300)
Career at Richmond: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 32.5
Justin Haley’s two Cup starts at Richmond were with Spire Motorsports — not exactly the strongest team. But in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he has four top 10s, including two runner-up finishes at this facility. It’s one of his best racetracks in NXS aside from superspeedways.
In his first full-time Cup season with Kaulig Racing, Haley drove the No. 31 to four consecutive finishes of 17th or better from Las Vegas through COTA. In fact, at both Las Vegas and Phoenix, he started in 28th and crossed the line 17th. That’s some good position differential points for this salary.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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