The second short-flat track race of the NASCAR Cup Series season takes place at Richmond Raceway on Sunday.
The first short-flat track included the debut of the new low-downforce package, which had drivers slipping through the corners, leading to increased tire wear at Phoenix.
Richmond is an even higher tire-wear track, and now with the new package, we should expect even more wear. However, there was also a relative lack of action at Phoenix, and Richmond itself has been traditionally a low-action track in recent years. The major incident rate is around 10%, meaning we shouldn’t rely on chaos to inform our lineup decisions. As such, I’ll stick to some smaller pivot plays rather than diving deep for the super low-used gem.
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 Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Richmond DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Christopher Bell ($10,300): At Phoenix, Bell finished sixth and had the third-best average running position and fourth-best green-flag speed, so we know at a similar track this year he was incredibly fast.
That’s notable because, while Bell is good at Phoenix, he’s even better at Richmond. In fact, Richmond has been Bell’s best track in the Cup Series for tracks in which he’s made more than two starts. In his four races here with Joe Gibbs Racing, Bell has finished sixth or better in each one, including two finishes of third or better.
By starting 21st thanks to the qualifying rainout, Bell gets plenty of opportunity to move forward.
Brad Keselowski ($8300): Keselowski has been extremely strong at Richmond since he became part owner of RFK Racing. In the spring race last year, Keselowski was fourth in green-flag speed and 12th in average running position. In the fall race, those numbers were 12th and 11th, respectively.
Fast forward to Phoenix this year, and Keselowski was eighth and sixth in those metrics. In other words, he’s a borderline top-10 car in our three-race relevant sample size.
His 24th-place starting position leaves plenty of opportunity for place-differential potential.
Richmond DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Denny Hamlin ($10,100): Bell is going to get a lot of attention as chalk, but Hamlin is right there with Bell as the leader of the Toyotas at these shorter flat tracks.
At Phoenix, Hamlin had the fifth-best average running position and a green-flag speed that was sixth best. Now he starts 10 places closer to the front than his younger teammate, giving him slightly more opportunity to pick up dominator points. That’s why he comes in as the top driver in my projections in raw ceiling. It’s even better when we get him as a pivot off of a chalkier driver.
Josh Berry ($7900): Aric Almirola is going to be chalk, and Berry makes a nice pivot off of him in tournaments. Berry is a strong driver at the shorter flat tracks, and he backed that reputation up with a third-place finish in the Xfinity Series race Saturday.
At Phoenix earlier this year, Berry took home his first career top-10 finish in just his fourth Cup Series start, and his second for Hendrick Motorsports (HMS). If something were to happen to Almirola like it did at Phoenix where his wheel fell off, Berry is in line to capitalize in the same price range.