1) Kevin Harvick / Starting 1st / DraftKings $11,300 / FanDuel $14,000
Kevin Harvick will be a favorite at Richmond. He’s a three-time winner who’s finished in the top seven in 7 of the last 8 races. Over the last four combined Richmond races, Harvick is tied for having the 2nd best average finish (4.8), his average running position ranks as the 2nd best (5.1) and his driver rating ranks as the 3rd best. Last fall at Richmond, Harvick had a great car. In the race he finished 7th, had a 6.4 average running position and earned the 6th best driver rating. Additionally, he finished 5th in Stage #1 and 6th in Stage #2. In spring 2019, Harvick had a great car. He started on the pole, finished 4th, had a 4th place average running position and led 30 laps. Additionally, he finished 4th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. In 2018 at Richmond, Harvick had a great season. He swept the top five and ranked as one of the best. In fall 2018, Harvick had a strong showing. He started on the pole, finished 2nd, finished 2nd in Stage 1 & 2, earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 40 laps. In spring 2018, Harvick 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. This year at shorter-flat tracks, Harvick has results of 2nd (Phoenix) and 5th (New Hampshire).
2) Denny Hamlin / Starting 7th / DraftKings $11,600 / FanDuel $13,500
Denny Hamlin is one of the premiere performers at shorter flat tracks and at Richmond he’ll be tough to beat. At “The Action Track”, Hamlin’s a three-time winner who’s finished in the top five 48% of the time and in the top ten 63% of the time. In recent Richmond races, Hamlin’s been a standout performer and in 8 of the last 9 he’s had a result in the top 6. Last year at Richmond, Hamlin had a great season and swept the top five. In fall 2019, Hamlin had a strong showing and ranked as one of the best. When the checkered flag waved he finished 3rd, had a 3.3 average running position and ranked as the 5th “Fastest Driver Late In A Run.” Additionally, Hamlin finished 4th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. In spring 2019, Hamlin started in the rear of the field, but that wasn’t much of a problem and he finished 5th when the checkered flag waved. In fall 2018, Hamlin had an evening he would like to forget and finished 16th. That said, he made an unscheduled pit stop early and then with 75 laps to go he was burned by a caution during the pit cycle. Realistically, I think Hamlin was a high single-digits to low double-digits driver. In spring 2018, Hamlin ran well throughout the race. He finished 3rd, earned the 7th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position. In the five Richmond races prior to that he had results of 5th, 3rd, 1st, 6th and 6th. At New Hampshire in August, Hamlin won Stage #1, finished 2nd in Stage #2, finished 2nd overall and ranked as the 2nd “Fastest Driver Late In A Run.” On Saturday night, look for Hamlin to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
3) Martin Truex Jr. / Starting 14th / DraftKings $10,900 / FanDuel $13,000
Martin Truex Jr. is a super-elite performer at Richmond who should be on your short list of favorites. He pulled out the broom last year, and in 6 of the last 7 races he’s led +109 laps or more! Over the last three combined Richmond races, Truex has a 1.7 average finish, a 3.3 average running position and he’s averaged leading 152.6 laps per race. Last fall at Richmond, Truex Jr. had the field covered and easily raced his way to victory lane, despite spinning out while leading on lap 315 (only dropped him back to 3rd). In the race he won Stage #1, finished 2nd in Stage #2, led 109 laps and earned the best driver rating. In terms of “Green Flag Average Speed”, Truex ranked as the fastest. In spring 2019, Truex Jr. had a phenomenal car. In addition to finishing first he earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, led 186 laps, finished 3rd in Stage #1 and 2nd in Stage #2. In 2018, Truex Jr. was a serious threat to win both races. Over the combined events he had the best driver rating, the best average running position (5.0) and led the most laps by a wide margin (284). In fall 2018, nobody was better than Truex Jr. In the race he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, led 163 laps but finished a misleading 3rd. During the caution for Stage #2 (which he just won), his team had an uncontrolled tire which dropped him to the back of the field. In spring 2018, Truex 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. Since 2019 at shorter-flat tracks minus Phoenix this spring, Martin Truex Jr. has a 3.2 average finish and he’s had a result in the top 6 every race.