Victory Lane – Federated Auto Parts 400
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr
Race two of the NACAR playoffs roll into Richmond Saturday night for 400 miles around Richmond Raceway. Brad Keselowski qualified on the pole position. Cars will need to go through inspection on Saturday before their starting positions become official. Be sure to double check starting positions in all lineups before lineup lock at 7:30 pm eastern. If you watched the Xfinity race on Friday night, you saw Christopher Bell start from the 4th position and lead 238 out of 250 laps to win the race. Nobody could come close to passing Bell once he was out front. I am afraid a similar situation will happen on Saturday night and playing the driver who dominates will be key to a winning DFS lineup. Let’s get started
Denny Hamlin ($13,200/10,600) Denny Hamlin topped the practice sheet in nearly every category during final practice. Hamlin ran 1st in every consecutive lap average measured (5 lap, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30). He ran the fourth fastest single lap speed behind Truex, Elliott, and Hemric. Hamlin has led the most laps of any active driver at Richmond and is 3rd in driver rating and average running position. I like Hamlin to win the race from the 6th position on Saturday night.
Joey Logano ($13,000/10,200) I’m not sure what happened to Joey Logano’s qualifying effort, other than the fact that he went out early while the sun was still on the track and drivers who went later had an advantage. Logano qualified 28th and while he didn’t show top 5 speed in practice, he was top 10 in lap averages across 10-25 consecutive laps run. It will be hard to fade Logano because there is too much upside if he is able to improve his finishing position by 20 and finish in the top 10. If we fade Logano we can play two high salary drivers that are starting up front giving us two chances to have the driver who will dominate most of the race from a top starting position. I don’t like the value drivers this weekend, so I’m unlikely to play three top drivers and scrape the bottom of the barrel this weekend.
Brad Keselowski ($12,500/9,800) Keselowski ran a really fast lap during qualifying, beating Harvick by a full tenth of a second. The combination of Keselowski’s short run speed and the number one pit stall makes him hard to pass up in cash games on Saturday night. The decision at the top end of the driver pool will be key this weekend. Logano has the most upside with the potential for a +20 differential. The only way to overcome that upside is for a driver to lead 100 or more laps during the 400 lap race. Two drivers led over 100 laps in the spring, Truex (186 laps led and won the race) and Kyle Busch (101 laps led, finished 8th). I like Brad Keselowski to lead laps early and take advantage of the number one pit stall to gain spots on pit road.
Kevin Harvick ($14,500/11,500) I like Harvick for many of the same reasons as I like Keselowski. There is a good chance Harvick could lead laps early and run up front for the entire race. Harvick is priced the same as Kyle Busch on Fan Duel, $500 less on Draft Kings. Harvick ran the fastest consecutive lap speeds during the first practice on Friday and those speeds were faster than Hamlin’s speeds over the same amount of laps during final practice. The issue with comparing practice speeds is the time of day the practices occured. Both practices on Friday occurred during the middle of the day and the race is under the lights Saturday night. I like Harvick to run well, but I don’t his salary. He deserves consideration, but I would play Hamlin, Logano, Keselowski, and Truex before I would play Harvick.
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500/11,100) I think Truex could roll to a victory Saturday night. His practice speeds were second behind Denny Hamlin in final practice, he won at Richmond in the spring, and he won last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hamlin and Truex are nearly equal for me. It will likely come down to laps led to determine who has the better fantasy day. I like fitting Truex and Hamlin in the same cash lineup this weekend.
Ryan Newman ($7,500/8,000) There was a stretch of time in the summer where Ryan Newman was consistently a good DFS play because he would qualifying around 20th and finish the race around 12th. I like Newman to do that again this weekend. Newman ran top 5 speeds in all of the consecutive lap categories. Newman is starting the race 19th and is a solid safe play in the mid-tier for Saturday night.
Paul Menard ($6,700/6,900) I like Paul Menard at Richmond this weekend. At his price range DFS players will likely have to make a decision between Menard, Buescher, and Austin Dillon. I like Menard over the other two. He hasn’t shown great speed in practice, but ran consecutive speeds in the 17th-19th range and is starting the race 24th. I think Menard could compete for a top 15 finish and is a safe option for cash games.
William Byron ($9,500/8,200) William Byron’s practice speeds show that he is consistent over a longer run. He ran 23.0 in 5 through 20 lap average speed, good enough for 10th in 20 lap average speed. Byron is starting 25th and while I wish his salary was less, I like him to advance 10-15 positions on Saturday night and compete for a top 10 finish.
There are no value plays that I like this week. DFS players may look to Landon Cassil or Reed Sorenson, but they are going to be so many laps down by the end of the race that I don’t see the point in playing them. There are some really good options at the top end so it is tempting to play 3 high salary drivers and basically punt the value play, but I like Newman, Menard, and Byron and I think they can be paired with two top drivers to create a winning lineup in cash.
Remember that all of this advice is contingent on everyone passing pre-race inspection. If multiple drivers fail and start at the back then the lineup build could change. Be sure to double check lineups and keep an eye on twitter for updates.
My core cash lineup includes Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, and William Byron.
Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.