1) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 1st)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick is always a factor at Richmond and on Saturday night he’ll be tough to beat. I think he’ll compete for the win, and at worst finish in the top five. Finishing in the top five is an extremely safe bet when you consider in 4 of the last 5 races here he’s finished 5th. With this race now being in the Playoffs I think he’ll step up his game. One attribute I like about Harvick is how strong he’s been at shorter-flat tracks this year. At these venues he’s won 2 of the 3 races, has a 2.3 average finish and a 5.3 average running position. In practice, Kevin Harvick had a great car and he’s the only driver who’s ten lap average ranked in the top five both sessions. He was 4th in Happy Hour and 5th in Practice #1.
Richmond Track History – Richmond has been a great track for Kevin Harvick and he’s consistently run well. He’s a three-time winner who’s finished in the top five 37% percent of the time and in the top ten 63% percent of the time. In 4 of the last 5 races here he’s finished 5th. This spring he had a strong showing. He finished 5th, earned the 6th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position. In both Stage #1 and Stage #2 he finished 10th. Last fall he finished an asterisk mark 15th. In that race he made a time-consuming pit stop at the end of Stage #2 to repair some damage to his nose. Prior to getting that damage he looked about 8th place good. In spring 2017 he was a consistent front runner. 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 pair of 5th place finishes.
DraftKings $12,200 / FanDuel $13,600
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 3rd)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. should be near the top of your fantasy NASCAR radar at Richmond. He’s been extremely strong here and has been in contention to win 3 of the last 4 races. Last fall he absolutely had this race won, but was robbed of a near certain victory because of a late caution. This spring he was also in serious contention to win but ended up walking away with a misleading result. This year at shorter-flat tracks, Truex Jr. has been a phenomenal performer. Over the three combined events he has the best average running position (4.3), has led the most laps (207), has the 3rd best driver rating and a misleading 7.7 average finish. In Happy Hour, his ten lap average ranked as the 7th best. On Saturday night I would look for Truex Jr. to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Richmond Track History – Martin Truex Jr. has been a stellar performer at Richmond. Over the last four races he has the best driver rating, the best average running position (4.0), has led the most laps (512) and has an extremely misleading 11.8 average finish. This spring he had a great car but finished an asterisk mark 14th. In the race he led the most laps (121), had a 4th place average running position and earned the 5th best driver rating. A slow pit stop with about 10 laps to go dropped him from 2nd to 9th, and then during a late caution with under 5 laps to go he pitted from 8th because his car was overheating. Last fall there’s no question he had the best car but a late caution with 4 laps to go while he was leading cost him the win. It led to him getting beat off pit road and then during the GWC he was caught up in a wreck that led to his 20th place finish. From that race it should be noted he won Stage #2, had a 2nd place average running position and led a race high 198 laps. In spring 2017 he was a solid performer. He finished 10th, had a 7th place average running position and earned the 6th best driver rating. In fall 2016 he earned the 2nd best driver rating, finished 3rd, had a 3rd place average running position and led a race high 193 laps.
DraftKings $11,000 / FanDuel $13,200
3) Kyle Busch (Starting – REAR of the field, but will be scored from 11th)
Richmond Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch is a super-elite performer at Richmond who’ll be a favorite. On Saturday night I think he’ll finish in the top five and compete for the win. Richmond has been a great track for Busch and ranks as one of his best. He raced his way to victory lane this spring, and in 3 of the last 6 races he’s finished in the top two. Throughout his career he’s consistently performed well here having finished in the top five 63% percent of the time and in the top ten 71% percent of the time. This year at shorter-flat tracks (Richmond, Phoenix and New Hampshire) which correlate to success he’s run extremely well, and over the three combined races he has 1 win and has finished in the top 2 every race. In practice, Kyle Busch had a great car and many in the garage think he’ll be the driver to beat. In practice #1 he had the best ten lap average and in Happy his ten lap average ranked as the 6th best. On Saturday night Busch will start in the back (will still be scored from 12th). This spring he won from 32nd, in all three of his Richmond races he’s started in the 30’s he’s finished in the top two.
Richmond Track History – Kyle Busch is a four-time winner at Richmond who’s performed at an extremely high-level. This spring he started in 32nd but still managed to race his way to victory lane. In addition to winning he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 6th place average running position, led 32 laps and finished 6th in both Stage #1 and Stage #2. When he got to the front of the pack it was “game over” for the competition. Last fall he was solid and finished 9th. In the race he won Stage #1, finished 10th in Stage #2, earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. Performance wise he was really about 6th place good, but the late cautions cost him positions. In spring 2017 he had one of the best cars but finished an asterisk mark 16th. Performance wise he was likely 2nd place good but late in the race while he was running in 2nd he got a commitment cone violation. In fall 2016 he finished 9th, in the two races prior to that he had back to back 2nd’s.
DraftKings $11,800 / FanDuel $13,800