Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson should be a solid performer at Richmond. It’s been a great track for him and he’s consistently performed well. Over the last 8 races he has 6 top tens and has finished in the top 11 every race. Over the last five races at Richmond he sports a 7.8 average finish, a 13.8 average running position and earned the 11th best driver rating. This spring when the checkered flag waved he finished 6th. He didn’t run well for much of the race (19th place average running position), but he closed out strong. 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. In spring 2017 he really didn’t have that great of a race. He finished 11th, but his average running position was 15th. In fall 2016 he also finished 11th. In the four races prior to that he swept the top ten. This year at shorter flat tracks, Johnson has proven to be a solid performer. For the season at these venues he has a 10.0 average finish. On Saturday night I would look for Johnson to be a low-double digits driver who has a good chance to finish in the top ten.
Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez should be high on your fantasy NASCAR radar at Richmond. Shorter-flat tracks have been an area of strength for him. Over his 9 combined races on this track type he has a 10.9 average finish and has finished in the top 12 in 7 of his 9 races. At Richmond, Suarez has three starts under his belt and sports a 9.7 average finish. In all of his starts he’s finished in the top 12. Earlier this year at Richmond he finished 10th and earned the 15th best driver rating. His race wasn’t incident free so that’s a really great result (got penalized during a green flag pit stop around lap 270 and was caught speeding while serving his penalty). Last fall he had his best Richmond race and finished 7th. His other stats from the race aren’t great but his finish is legitimate. In spring 2017 in his track debut he finished 12th. I will note he doesn’t always run the best in races here, but so far he’s always been able to sneak in a good result.
Ryan Newman – Richmond ranks as one of Ryan Newman’s best tracks and on Saturday night I think he’s capable of coming home with a good result. This year at shorter flat tracks he’s been good. This spring he ran well at Richmond but had a misleading result, in his two incident free races he had results of 6th (New Hampshire) and 11th (Phoenix). At Richmond in problem free races he’s been pretty good. This spring he had top ten potential but finished a misleading 37th after being involved in a wreck with 34 laps to go. Prior to his problem he was running right around 10th. From the race it should be noted he finished just outside the top ten in Stage #1 and finished 7th in Stage #2. In 2017 he had a great season and was one of four drivers who swept the top ten. Last fall, Newman finished 3rd. If there wasn’t a late caution he was poised to finish in 9th. During the final restart he really benefited from the situation and passed a lot of drivers when Truex Jr. crashed. In spring 2017, Newman had a great race and ran well throughout the event. When the checkered flag waved he finished 7th, had a 9th place average running position and earned the 9th best driver rating. In 2016 he had a misleading result in both races. In fall 2016 Newman finished a misleading 28th. Just one lap before his wreck with 38 laps to go he was running in 10th. In spring 2016 Newman had a good car but finished 18th. I will note that’s an asterisk mark result. He was really low double digits good. With 82 laps to go while he was running just outside the top ten he had a cut tire and spun.