The NASCAR Cup Series Round of 16 holds its second race Saturday night at Richmond Raceway. Let Frontstretch.com's Joy Tomlinson get your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings rosters ready for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders!
This race marks the second time drivers will face the 0.75-mile racetrack this season. Back in April, Alex Bowman snagged his first victory of the year, passing Denny Hamlin for the lead within the final 10 laps after a late caution. All eyes will be on Bowman to see if he can bounce back from issues at Darlington Raceway last week to sweep Richmond.
Though Bowman won that event, he didn’t lead the most laps. Hamlin led more than 200 while Martin Truex Jr. maintained control for over 100 circuits. If that trend continues this week, you’ll want at least one dominator in your lineup in order to cash in your DraftKings contests.
Since there have been several races run with the 750-horsepower package this year, you can study those (especially the shorter tracks) to see which racers have performed well and who is most likely to be at the front. Keep in mind all 16 playoff drivers have an extra advantage, guaranteed to start ahead of all others barring any penalties from pre-race inspection.
Of course, don’t forget about past races run at Richmond, too. These statistics, combined with a driver’s current form from this season, should point you in the right direction.
As for scoring, DraftKings lowered the points for each fastest lap to 0.45 this season, as well as the points awarded for first place to 45. DraftKings has also put more emphasis on drivers who finish inside the top 10 and top 20. For example, the gap between 10th and 11th place is now two points instead of one: 10th gets 34 points, while 11th gets 32, etc.
Here's a complete rundown of DraftKings' NASCAR scoring rules.
Note: the following is a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use the information to create your own.
Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Plays/Sample Lineup for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway
Joey Logano ($10,700)
Career at Richmond: 24 starts, 2 wins, 11 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 10.5
Logano may not be the first driver you think to play in daily fantasy but he should be on your radar. The Team Penske veteran has just three results outside the top 10 at Richmond since 2013, showcasing some impressive consistency. Also, he led at least 45 laps in each of the last two Richmond races, coming home third in both. In 2019, he was out front for 52 circuits in the spring event, finishing a strong second.
Besides his track history, the No. 22 Ford driver has also had good finishes at short tracks this season. In fact, he hasn’t finished worse than sixth at tracks one mile or less so far in 2021. Logano led 49 laps at Richmond and 143 at Phoenix Raceway, flexing his muscle in both events.
Although Logano hasn’t won in a while, a top 10 should be a near certainty this week. Expect him to lead laps and record several fastest laps to boost your DraftKings score.
Denny Hamlin ($10,400)
Career at Richmond: 29 starts, 3 wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 9.0
Hamlin went to victory lane for the first time this year at Darlington last week after leading 146 circuits. Will he take a more conservative approach Saturday night after getting locked into the next round of the playoffs? Or will he be itching to show everyone that one win wasn’t a fluke?
Either way, Hamlin should have a fast enough car to be out front for several laps or to post a few fastest laps. After all, he wheeled his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to several top 10s at short tracks this year. He also led 276 circuits at Martinsville Speedway and 207 at Richmond.
In nine of the last 11 Richmond events, Hamlin has finished sixth or better. He also won in 2016 after holding first place for 189 circuits, triumphant at a place he considers his hometown track along with Martinsville.
If Hamlin keeps up the momentum, he’ll have a large DraftKings score once again.
Kevin Harvick ($9,100)
Career at Richmond: 40 starts, 3 wins, 15 top fives, 26 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 10.1
Harvick might not get his first victory of the year at Richmond this week, as he last won here back in 2013. Still, he’s only finished outside the top 10 three times at the Virginia track in his last 13 starts. Unfortunately, one of those came in April, but that was because a flat tire sent him into the wall in the closing laps. Before that, he ran consistently inside the top 10.
The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing wheelman was sixth at three other short tracks this year: Phoenix, Dover International Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Harvick even looked like his old self at Loudon, staying out front for a season-high 66 laps. Look for him to put together another strong performance this weekend.
Ross Chastain ($7,200)
Career at Richmond: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 28.4
Don’t pay too much attention to Chastain’s Cup history at Richmond, as most of those starts were when he was with Premium Motorsports, a severely underfunded program. Instead, check out how he’s been running this year. At all of the tracks one mile or less, the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing driver has finished 19th or better. He was 15th at both Richmond and Dover while at Loudon, Chastain crossed the line in eighth place after leading three laps.
Last week at the Lady in Black, Chastain came in third after notching 18 fastest laps. That was 20 positions better than where he started, which was quite an accomplishment for a non-playoff driver.
He’s starting 17th this week, so Chastain's a bit riskier, but it should still pay off if he gains some spots.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700)
Career at Richmond: 16 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 18.9
I know Stenhouse can be aggressive, but he’s done fairly well at smaller racetracks so far this year in JTG Daugherty Racing equipment. He was 12th at Phoenix, 15th at Martinsville, 17th at Richmond and 15th at NHMS.
Plus, at Darlington, Stenhouse ended 17th, 12 positions further up from where he began. He also was sixth at Nashville Superspeedway, another track that used higher horsepower and lower downforce.
Lastly, Stenhouse has built a solid track record at Richmond, running 18th or better in each of the past five Richmond races. The recent run includes a 13th place finish in the fall 2018 event and a 15th in fall 2019.
If the No. 47 car stays strong to the end and out of harm’s way, Stenhouse should have a very respectable score for his NASCAR DraftKings salary.
Dark Horse Performer
Corey LaJoie ($5,500)
Career at Richmond: 7 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Richmond: 28.0
If Richmond isn’t a superspeedway track like Daytona International Speedway or Talladega Superspeedway, why am I playing LaJoie? His finishes over the last month have turned some heads and shown the growth of the Spire Motorsports No. 7 team. He scored a 16th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and a 16th at Daytona after running near the front for much of the race. Plus, last week at Darlington, he rose up into the top 10 before ultimately finishing 15th.
LaJoie may not have a top 15 at Richmond yet, but he did gain seven positions to finish 27th last fall. This spring, he tacked on a 21st-place result, 15 positions better than he started.
LaJoie’s inexpensive salary will help you fit several drivers above $10,000 in your NASCAR DraftKings lineup without causing too much harm, providing he doesn’t crash out of the race.