The Setup – Toyota Owners 400 Race Preview
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr

 

 

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This week, NASCAR visits Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400, the first of two visits to Richmond for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Race Distance: 400 laps. Stage 1 ends on lap 100, Stage 2 ends on lap 200.

Lineup Lock 7:30 pm eastern Saturday

Last year’s winners – Kyle Busch (Spring) – Kyle Busch (Fall)

Last year’s pole sitters: Martin Truex Jr. (Spring) – Kevin Harvick (Fall)

Prior race winners: Spring, Fall

2017: Joey Logano, Kyle Larson
2016: Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin
2015: Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth
2014: Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski

Bristol Recap:

What went right?

Despite the multitude of penalties Kevin Harvick faced, including a pass through penalty to start the race, the cash game core lineup in last week’s Victory Lane (4 12 48) were 14th, 4th, 12th on Fan Duel.

Value drivers (95 and 47) scored well, particularly Matt DiBenedetto with 83.5 points, 12.8x, 9th overall in Fan Duel scoring. To a lesser extent Ryan Preece still worked out scoring 68.10 points, 11.3x.

Two of the other three drivers written up in Victory Lane worked out well. Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez with 86.7 and 89 points respectively.

A cash game lineup with 4, 12, 48, 41, 95 scored 433.8, well above the cash line in a 50/50. Also steering away from Harvick, due to the penalties Sunday morning, would have taken you to Denny Hamlin and a lineup of 11, 12, 48, 41, 95 scoring 442.5.

What went wrong?

The driver I wrote up that didn’t work out was Erik Jones. Jones had a fast car and led 10 laps early, but numerous issues led him to score only 57.7 points. In my own cash game lineup I pivoted away from Kevin Harvick and went up to Kyle Busch. Making that move forced me to go down from Blaney to Jones using 18, 20, 48, 41, 95 which scored 419.3. I still cashed in a single entry 50/50, but by a slimmer margin.

What really went wrong were the drivers that I purposefully avoided. I wasn’t high on Kyle Busch initially because of his high salary and I avoided both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Keselowski doesn’t look as bad because of his black flag on the final restart, but missing Logano hurt, especially in GPP lineups where a pivot from Harvick to Logano, leaving everything else the same, would have given me a lineup of 22, 12, 48, 41, 95 = 460.4 and made Sunday a much bigger payday.

Missing on Kurt Busch also hurt, but I’m not as upset about that. His car didn’t show speed in practice, he qualified poorly, and put together a great race. Moving forward I will show more confidence in Kurt Busch and the 1 team, but staying away from teammate Kyle Larson, who was priced up, was the right play, so I’ll take that as a wash.

What to watch for in practice/qualifying:

Watch for differences from Bristol. Expect Kyle Busch to be fast, but keep an eye on other drivers that raced well at Bristol (a similar style short track although there are significant differences) to see if they are fast this weekend. I’m particularly curious to see where Matt DiBenedetto lands on the speed chart Friday.

Where is Truex? Martin Truex Jr has five top 10 finishes, including two second place finishes this year, but has only led 14 laps. I am interested to see where he stacks up in practice speed with relation to his Joe Gibbs Racing Teammates (11, 18, 20).

Since Richmond is a two day show, all practices will conclude before qualifying Friday night. Once qualifying occurs the cars won’t see the track again until the race on Saturday night. This is different from the past few weeks where they have practiced and qualified on Friday and then had more practices on Saturday before a Sunday race.

What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):

Kyle Busch is the favorite to win on Sunday. Kyle at 2-1 might be the heaviest I’ve ever seen a NASCAR driver favored to win a race. I only include 20-1 and up, but if you are so inclined, Kurt Busch at 25-1 and Daniel Suarez at 60-1 would be worth considering as “long shots.” I also think it’s interesting to see Truex (7-1) favored over teammate Denny Hamlin (10-1).

Kyle Busch: 2-1
Brad Keselowski: 7-1
Joey Logano: 7-1
Martin Truex Jr: 7-1
Kevin Harvick: 7-1
Denny Hamlin: 10-1
Ryan Blaney: 12-1
Chase Elliott: 12-1
Clint Bowyer: 20-1
Kyle Larson: 20-1
Aric Almirola: 20-1

Driver Ratings at Richmond:

1. Kyle Busch 110.2
2. Kevin Harvick 110.0
3. Denny Hamlin 107.9
4. Brad Keselowski 97.8
5. Kurt Busch 95.3
6. Clint Bowyer 93.1
7. Kyle Larson 92.6
8. Joey Logano 90.2
9. Jimmie Johnson 89.6
10. Ryan Newman 88.4
11. Martin Truex Jr 87.8
12. Chase Elliott 85.6
13. Jamie McMurray 79.1
14. Aric Almirola 77.6
15. William Byron 77.0

Average Running Position at Richmond:

1. Kevin Harvick 7.329
2. Kyle Busch 7.735
3. Denny Hamlin 8.141
4. Brad Keselowski 10.811
5. Kyle Larson 11.143
6. Clint Bowyer 12.322
7. Ryan Newman 12.384
8. Kurt Busch 12.597
9. Joey Logano 13.622
10. Chase Elliott 13.801
11. Jimmie Johnson 14.695
12. Martin Truex Jr 14.714
13. William Byron 14.946
14. Jamie McMurray 16.683
15. Aric Almirola 17.330

2018 Spring top 10:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Chase Elliott
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Joey Logano
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Kyle Larson
8. Brad Keselowski
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Daniel Suarez

2018 Fall top 10

1. Kurt Busch
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Chase Elliott
5. Aric Almirola
6. Austin Dillon
7. Kyle Larson
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Clint Bowyer

Stay tuned for updated premium content following a full day of practice and qualifying on Friday.  

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.

 

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