DFS NASCAR: Toyota Owners 400

DFS NASCAR: Toyota Owners 400

This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.

Toyota Owners 400

Location: Richmond, Va.
Course: Richmond International Raceway
Format: 0.75-mile D-shaped oval
Laps: 400

Race Preview

The NASCAR Cup Series races its third consecutive short-track this week at Richmond Raceway in the Toyota Owners 400. Martin Truex Jr. drove to the lead in the final laps one week ago at Martinsville Speedway to win his second race of the season and has made himself the current king of the short tracks. He will start from pole this weekend with teammate Denny Hamlin alongside on the front row. Brad Keselowski won the only Richmond race held last season and enters this weekend's contest winless so far this season. Hamlin is also winless but currently leads the points having missed finishing in the top five just once in the eight races so far this season. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch is the winningest active driver at this track with six victories and sits 12th in the standings. Brother Kurt Busch currently holds the final playoff spot with a five-point advantage over Alex Bowman. All three of those drivers also have yet to make a visit to Victory Lane in 2021.

Key Stats at Richmond International Raceway

  • Number of races: 128
  • Winners from pole: 23
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 72
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 99
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 11
  • Fastest race: 109.047 mph

Previous 10 Richmond Winners

2020 - Brad Keselowski
2019 fall - Martin Truex Jr.
2019 spring - Martin Truex Jr.
2018 fall - Kyle Busch
2018 spring - Kyle Busch
2017 fall - Kyle Larson
2017 spring - Joey Logano
2016 fall - Denny Hamlin
2016 spring - Carl Edwards
2015 fall - Matt Kenseth

Like most short tracks, Richmond is a track position circuit. The 0.75-mile D-shaped oval means drivers will be navigating traffic throughout the race, and slower cars run the risk of getting lapped early and often. The wide and flat surface does offer options for drivers to adjust their lines to what their cars can handle, but track position remains one of the most important factors. Ten of the last 11 winners at the track have started 11th or better, and having a fast car early in the race can give drivers a chance to trap much of the field laps down. Drivers at the rear of the field have little chance to gain track position, since the short lap distance means heading to pit road off-cycle, which means losing laps to the leaders. Restarts and fresh tires at the end of stages and the race could jumble the established order as teams gamble with strategy late in the race, however. 

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Brad Keselowski - $12,000
Martin Truex Jr. - $11,400
Denny Hamlin - $11,000
Kyle Larson - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Chase Elliott - $9,700
Kevin Harvick - $9,400
Alex Bowman - $8,800
William Byron - $8,500

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Christopher Bell - $7,800
Erik Jones - $7,600
Austin Dillon - $7,500
Tyler Reddick - $7,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ryan Newman - $7,000
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,200
Chris Buescher - $6,100
Ryan Preece - $5,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Denny Hamlin - $11,000
Kyle Larson - $10,300
Christopher Bell - $7,800
Austin Dillon - $7,500
Bubba Wallace - $7,300
Chris Buescher - $6,100

Hamlin (DK $11,000, FD $13,000) may not have a win yet this season, but he has a remarkable string of top-fives heading into this week's race. It seems like only a matter of time before he gets that win and it could easily come this weekend. He will start on the front row and has three prior Richmond wins. He led 45 laps in last year's race, too. Kyle Larson (DK $10,300, FD $11,200) is also having an extremely good start to the season. He has a win and three top-fives from the last five races. He starts sixth this Sunday and won at Richmond in 2017. Another 2021 winner, Christopher Bell (DK $7,800, FD $9,200), has three top-10 finishes in the last five races. He finished 15th in his first Cup Series start at Richmond last year and has three Xfinity wins at the track. Richmond is also a historically good venue for Austin Dillon (DK $7,500, FD $8,500). He will start 11th Sunday and led 55 laps in a fourth-place finish at the track last season. That was his third top-10 there in the four most recent visits. Bubba Wallace (DK $7,300, FD $6,800) has shown that his new team can run up front under the right conditions. His best Richmond finish was 12th in 2019, but it would not be a surprise if he walked away with a top-15 or better this weekend. He will line up 15th Sunday. Roush Fenway Racing's Chris Buescher (DK $6,100, FD $5,000) has been leveraging the organization's increase in performance. He is currently in a playoff position in the standings and primed for his best Richmond finish if he extends his run of four top-15 finishes in the last five races this week.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $12,000
Chase Elliott - $9,700
Alex Bowman - $8,800
Ryan Newman - $7,000
Chase Briscoe - $6,400
Ross Chastain - $6,000

The current star of short-track races is Truex (DK $12,000, FD $14,000). He won last week at Martinsville and won two of the last three races at this week's track. He hasn't finished outside of the top three at Richmond since 2018 and is hard to bet against this week. He will also start this weekend's race from pole. Chase Elliott (DK $9,700, FD $11,700) finished fifth at Richmond last season and is still hunting his first victory of the 2021 season. He has two other top-five Richmond finishes and placed second on last week's short track. Bowman (DK $8,800, FD $9,000) has one more chance this week to prove to fantasy owners that his early-season struggles are over. He will start deep in the field Sunday afternoon but finished ninth at the track last season. Ryan Newman (DK $7,000, FD $7,500) is enjoying a decent run of form with four top-20 finishes and a fifth-place finish on Bristol's dirt the last five races. He is a past Richmond winner and finished in the top-10 here in both races in 2019. Chase Briscoe (DK $6,400, FD $5,000) needs to pick up his results. He is 27th in the championship standings and has just one top-20 in the last five races. He will start 26th this week. Ross Chastain (DK $6,000, FD $4,500) has been getting the results Briscoe needs, however. Chastain has three top-20s in the last five races, will start 18th Sunday, but hasn't finished better than 28th in his four Richmond series starts.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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