The main NASCAR DFS talking point for Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway undoubtedly has to be about practice times.
Cup Series drivers practiced in one of two groups. Group A, which went out first, hit the track in significantly more favorable track conditions. The top 13 drivers from Group A posted a faster single lap than the fastest driver from Group B.
When you see that, you know individual and even average lap times are misleading. Additionally, even long-run speed can be misleading at a super-high tire wear track like Richmond, where a driver can show up near the bottom if he made his longer run on old tires.
Such is the case for Sunday’s race, giving us plenty of opportunity to take advantage of people not adjusting to practice conditions.
Richmond is a highly predictable track with very few cautions, so in addition to practice adjustments, we’ll also need to make our pivots in tournaments a bit more minor compared to highly random tracks. Thus, it’s going to be a pretty chalky week for my picks, but that’s just how Richmond goes.
Before we jump into my picks, don’t forget all my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running 10,000 race simulations.
Here are my NASCAR DFS picks for Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Richmond.
Richmond DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,000): It’s hard to go against the driver who has absolutely dominated Richmond in recent years, as well as earlier this year in the first race at the three-quarter mile track.
Truex also posted extremely solid practice times in Group B, which was the slower of the two groups. His FLAGS was second best in the group, which was arguably the stronger group despite having the slower speeds thanks to track conditions.
You can further back Truex’s recent dominance by taking the over on his 43.5 laps led at PrizePicks. Be sure to check out all the pick’ems PrizePicks has to offer with PrizePicks promo code LABS for a $100 deposit match,
Christopher Bell ($10,200): Bell is a great play in all formats if people look at his raw long-run speed and don’t understand the circumstances behind it.
The short-flat expert has never finished outside the top six with Joe Gibbs Racing and looks poised to continue that trend thanks to his stellar practice that should go unnoticed by casual DFS players.
Chris Buescher ($7700): Speaking of FLAGS, Buescher was a top-three car in that metric in his group, which should put him well inside the top 10 overall when combining the groups.
By starting so far back in 26th, Buescher gives DFS players massive upside as well as a very strong floor. That’s because barring an incident, he’s almost surely going to move forward by quite a few places. And Richmond is a place that barely produces major incidents, at just a 6.9% rate since 2016.
Aric Almirola ($7300): See Chris Buescher. This is almost an identical analysis, except Almirola has an even better track-type and track-specific history.
Richmond DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Kevin Harvick ($10,100): This is more of a gut call than anything, because Harvick’s usage and optimal percentages are nearly identical in my model.
That said, I can’t remember the last time Harvick:
- Started inside the top 10
- Had a badass practice session
- Had an amazing track history
Usually at least one of those factors is off and he still pulls off consistent top-five or top-10 performances. With all of these factors coming together, we should look at Harvick as a potential race winner.
Joey Logano ($9700): My model was high on Logano coming into the race weekend, so it’s not surprising that’s it’s still high on him despite his 23rd-place qualifying effort.
That’s in no small part because Logano was actually 11th best in my FLAGS metric.
Logano was sixth in his practice group in practice FLAGS, but he likely was also in the tougher group, making him a top-10 contender. He’s also finished inside the top 10 in 10 of the last 13 races at Richmond under low downforce conditions, so we know the track suits him well.
Chase Briscoe ($7100): By all metrics, Briscoe has had an abysmal year, which includes finishes of 20th or worse in seven of his last eight races.
However, the one race that was better than 20th, he finished in 10th at the most recent short-flat track, New Hampshire.
Briscoe came in a solid 14th in practice FLAGS and projects to be under-rostered by my model.
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