A day after a highly entertaining XFINITY race yesterday, the Cup drivers will hit Richmond where the series has raced since 1953. Richmond is known as “America’s premier short track” as it’s a .75-mile flat, asphalt oval. The Cup drivers will turn 400 laps totaling 300 miles in a race where dominator points will be at the forefront. Despite qualifying being done, there are still some tough decisions to be made when it comes to building lineups. On top of dominator points and the ever-common place differential points, this is a place where track position is key and thus performance from the pit crews on pit road will be imperative.
Like the XFINITY race yesterday, this race has the most dominator points available meaning that we’ll need to make a point to have multiple drivers in our lineups that will lead a good chunk of laps. Last year two drivers (Martin Truex, Jr, the eventual winner, and Denny Hamlin) led 80 or more laps. The race prior, the same two drivers led 107 or more laps with Truex leading the 107 and Hamlin leading a staggering 207 laps. There is a lot of clear-cut chalk in this race due to some sub-par qualifying efforts making the P.D. plays very attractive, however, to win a tournament you’ll need dominators and drivers that finish well on top of someplace differential mixed in. I’ll have a minimum of two potential dominators in my lineups with the majority of my entries featuring three such drivers.
Most comparable tracks: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway
*Note: all pricing is DraftKings focused
Denny Hamlin ($9,300), Starting 13th
I mentioned briefly the success of Hamlin as far as dominating races here goes. Looking further, Hamlin has three wins and 15 top-fives in 30 trips to Richmond. The Virginia native has led 148 or more laps here on eight seperate occasions and those performances have not been predicated on his starting position. In this case Hamlin will start 13th and in my opinion, is a steal at this salary.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,600), Starting 6th
The winner of three of the last five races at Richmond is Truex who, like Hamlin is a steal at his salary. Truex has three wins and eight top-fives in 31 races at Richmond but his consistency at this stage of his career here as far as leading laps goes has been incredibly impressive. In eight of his last 10 races at Richmond Truex has led at least 80 laps and as many as 198. He’s started inside the top 10 in all of those instances and will do so again on Sunday starting sixth. The Gibbs cars of Hamlin and Truex should be strong here on Sunday as they’ve been over the years.
Ryan Blaney ($9,400), Starting on the Pole
Blaney will start on the pole, the same position he started at Phoenix, the most comparable track to Richmond, where he went on to lead 143 laps of the possible 312. Blaney finished 4th that day and could run that performance back at a track that has not been historically friendly to him.
Kyle Larson ($10,200), Starting 21st
Simply put there’s just too much place differential available to avoid Larson entirely in this race. The defending Cup champion has an average finish of 11th at Richmond while grabbing one career win at the short track.
Alex Bowman ($8,500), Starting 28th
Like I mentioned there will be some significant chalk in this race and Bowman is just that. He’ll start 28th and won here two races ago, a race in which he started 24th. He only led 10 laps in that race but he was fighting to get to the front all day. He’ll have to do the same against on Sunday but at the very least, Bowman should find his way into the top 12 before the day is done.
Kurt Busch ($7,900), Starting 27th
The veteran Busch has an average finish of 15th over 41 Richmond races in his career. Built into that average finish are two wins and seven top-five finishes. It hasn’t been great of late for Busch at Richmond, but the floor is there with his deep starting position.
Other Dominator Plays:
William Byron ($9,000), Starting 2nd
Kyle Busch ($9,900), Starting 3rd
Other Place Differential Plays:
Chase Elliott ($10,500), Starting 15th
Austin Dillon ($7,000), Starting 25th
Austin Cindric ($7,200), Starting 20th
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($6,500), Starting 32nd
Justin Haley ($6,300), Starting 36th
Ty Dillon ($5,200), Starting 30th