1) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 5th)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. will be one of the drivers to beat at Richmond. He came close to victory lane last fall and has run well in many of the other recent races. In practice he showed good speed and his car was said to be one of the best. In Happy Hour his ten lap average ranked as the best. New Hampshire is a similar track and is the last “shorter flat track” visited. At that venue he led nearly half the race (137 laps) and finished 3rd. On Saturday night I would look for Truex to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Richmond Track History – Martin Truex Jr. has been a strong performer at Richmond. Over the last three races he has the 4th best driver rating and a 7.3 average running position. This spring he ran well but wasn’t a threat to win. In the race he finished 10th, earned the 6th best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. In 2016 he had a great season and swept the top ten. Last fall he arguably had the best car. When the checkered flag waved he earned the 2nd best driver rating, finished 3rd, had a 3rd place average running position and led a race high 193 laps. What makes his strong showing even more impressive is that he had to overcome a speeding penalty in the second half of the race. In spring 2016 he had a strong car and finished 9th. Performance wise he was better than his result and I thought he had top five potential.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,400
2) Kyle Busch (Starting – 7th)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch will be a favorite to win at Richmond. It’s a great track for him and this year at “shorter flat tracks” he’s been in contention to win all three races. At Richmond Kyle Busch is a super elite performer. He’s a four-time winner, has finished in the top five 63% percent of the time and in the top ten 71% percent of the time. In practice it was mentioned that Kyle Busch had one of the best cars. On the stop watch he ranked as one of the best. His ten lap average in practice #1 ranked as the 6th best and in Happy Hour his ten lap average ranked as the 2nd best. On Saturday night I would look for Busch to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Richmond Track History – Kyle Busch has been very impressive at Richmond. If he didn’t get a late pit penalty this spring his track record would likely show him having finished 2nd in 3 of the last 4 races here. This spring Kyle Busch had a great car but finished a misleading 16th. During a late caution while he was running in 2nd he got a commitment cone violation that dropped him back in the pack. Last fall he finished an asterisk mark 9th. Late in that race while he was running in 3rd a late caution came out and his pit strategy hurt him. Additionally in that race he earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. In spring 2016 he had a great car and would’ve won if Carl Edwards didn’t nudge him on the final lap while leading. In addition to finishing second he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 78 laps. In fall 2015 Busch also finished runner-up.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,700
Further Recommended Reading – Richmond Post Qualifying Predictions (another fantasy take), Richmond Likely Finish Ranges, DraftKings Richmond Playbility Value Chart/Projected Base Scores, Richmond Practice Notes/ Practice Speeds Center, Richmond Speed Cheat Sheet, Richmond Qualifying Results
3) Matt Kenseth (Starting – 1st)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Matt Kenseth is a very strong performer at Richmond who should be on your short list of favorites. Since he joined Joe Gibbs Racing he’s arguably been the strongest performer in the series here. In 7 of the last 10 races he’s finished in the top ten, in the three he didn’t he had a misleading result. New Hampshire is a shorter flat track like Richmond and a few months ago Kenseth finished 4th there. On Saturday night I would look for Kenseth to compete for a top five and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a factor to win from the pole.
Richmond Track History – Matt Kenseth is an elite performer at Richmond. This spring he had a great car but finished 23rd. In the race he led 164 laps but his race wasn’t incident free. With 36 laps to go while he was running in the top ten he had a flat tire and then had trouble getting to pit road. Additionally it should be noted he earned the 4th best driver rating and had a 5th place average running position. Last fall he was top five good but he had a cut tire and wrecked (38th place finish). Performance wise I thought he was top five good. Just prior to wrecking with 65 laps to go he was running in 6th. In spring 2016 he had a very solid showing. He finished 7th and earned the 8th best driver rating. In fall 2015 he was dominant leading 352 laps and racing his way to victory lane. In 6 of the 7 races prior to that he finished between 5th to 7th.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $9,000