Unfortunately, this season’s regular season-ending race isn’t going to have as much drama as anticipated. After his penalty for failing post-race inspection at Darlington, Ryan Newman now sits 22 points behind the cutoff line, and him and all other drivers on the outside pretty much need a win to get in. So it’s looking like Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, and Jamie McMurray will be our final three Chase drivers who get in on points, but that’s not official yet. I guess that’s why we run these races. Don’t be surprised so see those guys take big risks on Saturday night to try and steal a win. Richmond is always a pretty fun race to watch (in my opinion), and races here can either have a bunch of different contenders for the win or one driver that just absolutely dominates the field.
Once again, we practiced in the heat of the afternoon this weekend and will be racing at night, so keep that in mind when looking at these practice speeds: Practice #1 — Happy Hour. As usual, our in-depth notes can provide even more insight, and here are those: Practice #1 — Happy Hour. Denny Hamlin won the pole for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 and the full starting lineup can be found by clicking here.
Final Top 15 Ranking For Richmond 2
1. Kevin Harvick – Starts 19th – DraftKings Price: $10,700 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Stewart-Haas Racing has finally made a change within their pit crews, as Danica Patrick’s previous front tire changer and carrier have both been sent to the #4 crew. This will definitely be a story to keep an eye on, as Harvick’s pit crew has cost him at least 2 wins this season (in my opinion). With that being said, that’s one aspect of the race that I can’t really try and predict, so I’m not going to. As far as the car goes, the #4 Chevrolet is speedy (as usual) this weekend. In Practice #1 on Friday, Harvick was 13th on the overall speed chart, and in Happy Hour he ended up 6th in the ten-lap average ranking. He’s a three-time winner here at Richmond International Raceway with the most recent victory coming back in 2013. Over the last four races here, Harvick has ended up with three solid top 5 finishes, and he’s probably going to make it four of the last five here on Saturday night. Right now he is racing in mid-Chase form, as the #4 team has came away with six finishes of 6th or better in the last seven Sprint Cup races overall. And once Harvick gets going, he’s hard to slow down. Don’t be surprised if he challenges for the win in this year’s Federated Auto Parts 400, as it’s easier to pass at Richmond than it was at Darlington last week (thus less reliance on pit crew).
2. Matt Kenseth – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $9,900 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Any time that the #20 Toyota is fast off the truck, it’s typically a good sign for race day and Matt Kenseth fantasy owners. And that was exactly the case this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Kenseth wound up 5th-fastest during Friday’s morning practice session and ended up posting the 2nd-best ten-lap average during Happy Hour. All of the Toyotas look great this weekend, and that’s not really surprising considering the JGR foursome all finished 7th or better here back in April. In that race, Kenseth came home with a solid 7th-place result, and he has now finished inside that mark in seven of the last eight Richmond races. That, of course, includes his absolutely dominating performance in this race one year ago. Matt went through a rough patch here at Richmond during his final years with Roush-Fenway Racing but ever since making the switch to Joe Gibbs Racing he has been one of the best Fantasy NASCAR selections at this track. That will remain true this weekend.
3. Kyle Busch – Starts 9th – DraftKings Price: $10,600 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
There’s no other driver in the garage that has as impressive of a record here at Richmond than Kyle Busch. In twenty-two career starts here, he has averaged a finish of right around 7th with four trips to victory lane and fifteen top 5s (68.2%). He almost won here back in April but ended up finishing 2nd to teammate Carl Edwards, and that is Rowdy’s third finish of 3rd or better in the last four Richmond races. This weekend, the #18 Toyota has shown great promise on the speed charts; during Practice #1 on Friday, Kyle Busch posted the best ten-lap average, and in Happy Hour he was 4th on that chart. As far as a “safe” Fantasy NASCAR pick here at Richmond, Rowdy has to rank as one of the best options, but with that being said, there are a couple of things that can’t be ignored right now. First, this #18 team is in a bit of a slump, with no finish better than 11th in the last three Sprint Cup races overall. And second, Kyle Busch has historically struggled a bit here at Richmond in the recent September races. Rowdy did wind up 2nd in this race one year ago, but that was in the middle of his amazing championship run. In the previous three Richmond late-summer races, his best result was 14th. Just a couple of things to keep in your head this weekend…