Nascar heads to Richmond International Speedway this week for more short track racing fun. Richmond is a .75 mile irregular asphalt oval with banking ranging from 2-14 degrees. Richmond ranks as one of the best tracks, based on average finishing position, for several top drivers in the series. Many of the drivers also rate Richmond as one of their favorite venues, recalling their short track glory days coming up through the ranks. A couple of notes about this week’s race. Richmond is one of the higher tire wear tracks on the circuit. Both the Xfinity and Monster Energy series will be running the same tire configurations this week. Any driver/team running in both events will have an early edge on tire wear and setup for the upper level series leading up to green flag. Teams will be using the same 2019 short track rules package already used at Martinsville and Bristol this year. Phoenix is a similar track in layout for comparative purposes.
Please note – I am publshing this week’s article “pre-inspection” on race day so check with me in chat for any updates.
Past winners entered this week are Kyle Busch (6), Harvick (3), Hamlin (3), JJ (3), Kurt Busch (2), Logano (2), Bowyer (2), Keselowski (1), Larson (1), and Newman (1).
As always, my articles are directed at DK gpp formats, but I will be around in chat to discuss FD options and cash plays for those players interested. Let’s get to it.
Kyle Busch (13000) – Busch, as with so many other tracks, will be the driver to beat at Richmond. Phoenix, where Busch led 177 laps this season, and found his way to victory lane, is very similar to Richmond. Busch has the best history of all active drivers here, having won 6 times. He’s finished in the top ten what amounts to 3 out of every 4 races. He swept both races here last year, leading a total of 124 laps combined despite starting no better than 32nd in either event. This is Busch’s 2nd best track on the circuit with an average finish here of 6.9. Rowdy is this week’s favorite once again and for good reason. That salary is going to be a problem, so the sacrifices necessary for rostering him won’t be for the faint of heart.
Martin Truex Jr. (9800) – Truex has still never won at a short track. He’s been competitive on several occasions, and Richmond may be the closest he’s come to victory. Despite last year’s races here being swept by Kyle Busch, Truex actually had the better combined driver rating, and led a total of 284 laps. Last fall he not only led the most laps, but won both stages too. If not for a pit crew penalty at the end of stage 2 that dropped him to the back of the field, he was a solid bet to get the win too. Despite going to the tail end, he still managed to finish 3rd. He led the most laps in the spring race last year too, until his car began overheating late and he dropped to a misleading finish. The year before that (fall 2017), he was wrecked in the final lap of the race while running 2nd. In 2016 he led nearly 200 laps here. Truex has led an amazing 33% of the laps here in the past five races. Richmond is a track Truex could finally get that short track win on.
Denny Hamlin (8900) – Hamlin is one of Nascar’s better flat track drivers. The somewhat flat banking at Richmond is very similar to Phoenix, where Hamlin also excels. Add to that, the fact Richmond is his home track, and you have a winning combination. He’s a 3 time winner here, and aside from one misleading race last fall, he has finished in the top six here in 6 of the last 7 races. Richmond is also his 2nd best track based on an average finish of 9.6. It doesn’t hurt that Hamlin is underpriced this week either, making him a great bargain at 8900. He slipped to 18th in qualifying which is just icing on the cake for us.
Brad Keselowski (10600) – Richmond isn’t Keselowski’s best track, but we saw what he was capable of at Martinsville, another shorter-flat track, just a few short weeks ago. He has an average finish of 6.8 over the last five races here. He’s led this race on several occasions and could easily find himself in victory lane on race day. He’s an intriguing play this week because his salary has plummeted on DK, and even though this isn’t his best track, he runs up front and is a threat to win every week. He’s also scored the 2nd most points at this track over the last 6 events here. He could be a steal this week at his salary.
Aric Almirola (7700) – Almirola is probably as happy as any driver on the circuit to have Bristol in his rearview mirror. It isn’t one of his better tracks, and the Byron incident that took him out in the opening laps certainly didn’t help. Richmond is a welcome sight for him. He has a streak of 4 straight top fives going on these flatter tracks. Expect to see him back up front this week. He finished 5th here in the most recent race last fall. Almirola earned the most stage points of any driver here last year, and averaged 41 pts between the two events. He’s insanely underpriced at 7700, and will be part of my core this week. Almirola qualified 15th and is a lock in my lines.
Clint Bowyer (8600) – As we expected last week, Bowyer had a great run at Bristol. Bowyer is also a 2 time winner at Richmond and someone we need to have on our radar this week. He’s a better than average short, flat track driver and I’m projecting him to have a good shot at a top ten this week. He swept the top ten here last year, leading 45 laps in the spring race. He averaged 35 pts here in 2018, and has averaged 40 pts over the course of the two short track races this season. He qualified 21st and I’ll have quite a few shares of Bowyer this week.
Ryan Newman (6900) – Newman has a great history at Richmond and is coming off of a solid showing last week at Bristol. As a driver, he’s top ten good at Richmond. Then there’s the struggling Roush Fenway Racing team he drives for, which isn’t so good. He is someone who will need to slip in qualifying to have any value for us. He starts 31st which leaves plenty of room for positional points, and makes him viable in all lines.
Ty Dillon (6100) – Ty Dillon was in the winning DK line this past week. We had him as a solid salary-saver option and it certainly paid off. He’s been far more competitive in 2019 than in any other time in his career and even won a stage at Bristol His Richmond history isn’t good, but neither are any of his other histories at other tracks, and he keeps upping the bar every week despite that. He finished 15th at Phoenix, a similar track, and will stay on my radar as long as his salary stays down, and he continues to qualify in the upper 20’s and further back. This week he starts 30th.
Other drivers I like are Harvick, Kurt Busch, Larson, Elliott, Suarez, Wallace, and Dibenedetto. Several other drivers just missed the cut this week due to qualifying/starting position.
Dominator potentials this week are Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Truex.
Movers this week are Blaney, Newman, Bowyer, Ty Dillon, and Hamlin.
Fades for me this week are Menard, and Jones.
My pick to win the race this week is Kyle Busch. There’s no reason to pick anyone else other than the clear favorite. If you want a long shot pick instead, then I would go with Hamlin.NASCAR