1) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 10th)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick should be on your short list of favorites at Richmond. It’s a great track for him and he’s run extremely well. He’s a three-time winner who’s finished in the top five in 5 of the last 7 races. I view Phoenix as a reverse Richmond and a few weeks ago at that venue he raced his way to victory lane and led 56 laps. In that race he started 10th, on Saturday night he’ll start 10th again. On a week to week basis I like the way Harvick’s performed. Minus Daytona and Auto Club he has a 2.8 average finish and a 5.5 average running position. In practice Kevin Harvick had a great car. In Happy Hour he had the best 20 lap average and said this is the best car he’s had a Richmond in years. When he says that you know he’ll be tough to beat. In Practice #1 his ten lap average ranked as the best. On Saturday night look for Harvick to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Richmond Track History – Richmond has been a great track for Kevin Harvick and in 5 of the last 7 races he’s finished in the top five. Over those combined 7 races he has the 2nd best driver rating, the 2nd best average finish (7.3) and the 2nd best average running position (6.9). Last fall it was a meaningless race and he finished an Asterisk Mark 15th. His evening wasn’t incident free and during the Stage #2 caution he had a time consuming pit stop to repair damage to his nose and he never bounced back after that. Prior to damaging his car I thought he looked around 8th place good. Last spring Harvick consistently ran well. He earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and finished 5th. Additionally he finished 4th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. In 2016 he had a great season and swept the top five. In fall 2016 he finished 5th despite getting a speeding penalty. In spring 2016 he started on the pole, finished 5th, earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 63 laps.
DraftKings Price – $11,200
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 1st)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. will be tough to beat at Richmond from the pole. He’s run extremely well here and has been a contender to win 2 of the last 3 races. Last fall he looked like a lock to win but there was a late caution which robbed him of certain victory and it led to him wrecking. On Saturday night he’ll be looking to right that wrong and I would look for him to be a top five contender who’ll compete for the win. Phoenix is a good barometer for Richmond and he finished 5th there. In practice the #78 looked good and his ten lap average in both sessions ranked as the 3rd best. One attribute I like about Truex Jr. is how well he’s running on weekly basis. This year minus the three races he’s wrecked he’s finished in the top five every race and has a 3.8 average finish. After wrecking at both Texas and Bristol I think he’s due for some good luck.
Richmond Track History – In recent Richmond races Martin Truex Jr. has run exceptionally well. Over the last four races he has the best driver rating, has led the most laps (391), is tied for the best average running position (6.5) and has a misleading 10.5 average finish. Last fall Truex Jr. dominated the race but a late caution with 4 laps to go cost him the win. That led to him getting beat off pit road and then wrecking shortly after the restart. In that race it should be noted he won Stage #2, had a 2nd place average running position and led a race high 198 laps. Last spring he was a respectable performer. He earned the 6th best driver rating, had a 7th place average running position and finished 10th. In 2016 he had a great season at Richmond and swept the top ten. In fall 2016 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. That’s impressive when you take into account he got a speeding penalty. In spring 2016 I thought he had top five potential but he finished 9th.
DraftKings Price – $10,500
Further Recommended: Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Practice Notes/ Practice Speeds Center, DraftKings Playability Value Chart, Likely Finish Ranges, Speed Cheat Sheet, DraftKings Start Page, Fantasy NASCAR Start Page, Starting Lineup
3) Kyle Larson (Starting – 5th)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Kyle Larson will be a factor at Richmond. He’s the most recent Richmond winner and last year at shorter flat tracks nobody scored more points than him. Those two variables set the expectations very high for him this weekend. In Happy Hour Larson was extremely fast and his ten lap average ranked as the best. On Saturday night I would look for him to finish in the top ten and compete for a top five.
Richmond Track History – Richmond has been a good track for Larson. His average finish is 10.4 and in every race he’s finished 16th or better. In two of the last three races at Richmond he’s been in contention to win. Last fall Larson had a great performance and raced his way to victory lane. In addition to winning he earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position, led 53 laps, finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 6th in Stage #2. It should be noted that if there wasn’t a late caution which got him the lead off pit road he likely would’ve finished 2nd. Last spring he had a good race. He earned the 8th best driver rating, had an 8th place average running position and finished 14th. “Performance Wise” he was around 10th place good but late in the race he used pit strategy which had him falling back on old tires. In fall 2016 he had a great evening and finished runner-up. There was a late caution in that race and if it didn’t come out he likely would’ve finished 6th.
DraftKings Price – $10,100