Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson should come home with a respectable result at Richmond. He’s run very well here recently and has 7 straight top 11 results. Over this stretch he has a 7.6 average finish, an 11.1 average running position and the 9th best driver rating. Last fall Johnson had a good evening and came home with an 8th place finish. Additionally he earned the 13th best driver rating and had a 14th place average running position. As the race went on his car got better and better. In the two Richmond races prior to that he had back to back 11th’s. Last spring he really didn’t have that great of a race. He finished 11th, but his average running position was 15th. I will note his race wasn’t incident free because he collided with Earnhardt Jr. In fall 2016 Johnson didn’t have a good car and didn’t have a smooth race but when the checkered flag waved he finished 11th. In the race he got lapped under green, got a speeding penalty and got into the wall. In spring 2016 he ran well and had one of the stronger cars over long runs. In the race he started 3rd, finished 3rd, had a 4th place average running position, earned the 4th best driver rating and led 44 laps. At Phoenix this spring Johnson finished 14th.
Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola will be a good dark horse fantasy pick at Richmond. He’s had some strong runs here in lesser equipment and now that he’s driving the #14 I expect him to run really well. Phoenix is a good barometer for Richmond and he ran well there. He finished 7th and earned the 9th best driver rating. At Richmond, Almirola has been respectable. Since 2013 his average finish is 14.3 and he’s had four results in the top ten. Last fall there wasn’t anything special about his performance. He finished 17th and had a 21st place average running position. Last spring Almirola was a mid-teens driver but he escaped with a 9th place finish after doing really well following a late restart. Additionally he earned the 13th best driver rating and had a 16th place average running position. In fall 2016 at Richmond he crossed the finish line in 17th. That’s a respectable result when you take into account on lap 104 while he was running in 16th he had a flat tire which led to an unexpected pit stop. In spring 2016 Almirola finished 21st but it should be noted he ran better than his result for much of the race. He had a 16th place average running position and ran nearly 50% percent of the race inside the top fifteen. In fall 2015 he had his best performance and finished 4th.
Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez is a strong performer at shorter flat tracks. He’s really developed a knack for finishing well on this track type. Last year at shorter flat tracks over the six combined races he had a 9.7 average finish. At Phoenix earlier this season the good times continued and he finished 8th. At Richmond, Suarez has two starts under his belt and he’s finished well in both races (9.5 average finish). Last fall he had his better of the two races and finished 7th. His other stats from the race aren’t great but his finish is legitimate. Before the late caution came out he was also running in 7th. Last spring at Richmond in his debut he finished 12th. It’s important to note that his average running position was 28th and he only ran in the top fifteen in less than 10% percent of the race. He moved forward following a late restart. With 16 laps to go he was running in 18th.