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NASCAR DFS Picks, Projections for Richmond

After a wild race at Las Vegas to open the 2018 NASCAR playoffs, the series heads to Richmond for the second race of the three-race round. As always, I’ll give you my top NASCAR DFS picks, along with my driver point and ownership projections. Also, the NASCAR DFS Multi-Lineup OptimizerSim Scores, and Splits apps are updated for your NASCAR DFS needs.

Because inspection is Saturday AM, I’ll record RotoViz Live shortly after inspection is complete. My picks here are also subject to change based off inspection results.

For betting insights into the race, be sure to check out my piece at The Action Network. In that article, I’ll highlight my favorite NASCAR bets for Las Vegas.

If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the flat track section of my track types article. Brush up on your general GPP strategy and game theory if you want to have a shot at taking down first place. If you’re more of a cash game player, check out how to target high floor drivers, and remember to find any potential race dominators.

Let’s get to the NASCAR DFS picks, strategy, rankings, and projections for this weekend’s race!


The model projections assume that the driver finishes the race – hence why you don’t see any average finishing positions worse than about 33rd. The Pts column shows the average projected DraftKings points for races when the driver finishes the race.

Note: Ownership projections will be added after inspection Saturday.

Kevin Harvick15.8886.6139.5374.671220047.0%
Denny Hamlin29.858.121.7251.79960012.7%
Martin Truex Jr37.3271.2938.4769.411100033.5%
Ryan Blaney411.5928.3413.9438.87890013.1%
Kurt Busch57.2227.2214.4248.57850021.4%
Aric Almirola610.0323.2912.4942.01830012.9%
Brad Keselowski710.4817.2811.4740.11020026.1%
Erik Jones811.25.249.4635.63930013.6%
Kyle Larson911.9315.7212.2839.221050012.3%
Cole Custer1026.140.184.48458009.8%
Kyle Busch119.4325.1332.0458.451180015.3%
Joey Logano1210.270.127.3139.15870016.4%
Alex Bowman1317.882.7910.327.09770013.2%
Jamie McMurray1414.991.065.443173009.9%
Ricky Stenhouse Jr1516.750.597.3529.32640013.2%
Ryan Newman1613.350.725.7336.36810012.8%
Matt Kenseth1717.9511.749.7632.9271009.8%
Chase Elliott1813.4312.718.4142.5399009.3%
William Byron1915.330.053.0433.87680030.8%
Paul Menard2021.30.063.3623.0974009.6%
Jimmie Johnson2114.610.054.8338.21790012.0%
Chris Buescher2222.880.043.2521.88670011.3%
Michael McDowell2325.060.163.1718.5155009.2%
Clint Bowyer2410.110.798.5154.76910048.7%
Bubba Wallace2525.410.213.9920.2262007.9%
Austin Dillon2617.630.013.3136.39690031.2%
Matt DiBenedetto2728.760.12.5614.7952003.8%
AJ Allmendinger2823.7401.625.31650013.0%
Ty Dillon2927.1502.2419.82600017.9%
Ross Chastain3031.70.025.2313.2253001.6%
Corey Lajoie3132.20.024.9913.0949000.8%
Jeffrey Earnhardt3232.370.023.8713.248000.8%
Gray Gaulding3333.540.043.4911.67
Alon Day3431.190.011.0916.1647001.2%
Joey Gase3533.060.021.6513.7250001.0%
Landon Cassill3633.190.013.415.3351001.0%
Timmy Hill3733.950.032.5714.3945001.0%
Daniel Suarez3813.780.164.0256.5750053.1%
Regan Smith3927.860.033.2327.9570018.7%
David Ragan4028.770.042.0128.48540023.2%

Now on to the NASCAR DFS picks for this weekend!


Kevin Harvick ($12,200) — Harvick won the pole for Saturday night’s race and should easily beat Denny Hamlin on the opening start to lead the early laps. Track position is very important at Richmond. Every Richmond polesitter since NASCAR reduced the downforce on the cars in 2016 has put up at least 42.75 dominator points. That means all Harvick has to do is finish inside the top seven to reach 6x value. According to the model, he projects to do that much more than 50 percent of the time.

Clint Bowyer ($9100) — Track quality pass percentage is an important factor in the model this weekend, and no driver had a higher quality pass percentage at the first Richmond race than Bowyer. In that race he started 16th and finished ninth. This time, he starts 25th and still projects for a top-1o finish on average according to the model.

UPDATE: Bowyer will start 24th with Daniel Suarez failing inspection, but that doesn’t change anything for me in regards to Bowyer. Still a cash game lock.

Ryan Newman ($8100) — Newman has the 11th best quality pass percentage at Richmond since 2016, and if we trim that to the past three Richmond races, that stat jumps to fifth best among all drivers. Newman showed plenty of speed in practice as well, posting the 13th best 10-lap average in final practice and the sixth best 10-lap average in opening practice, when the track temperature was cooler, like it will be at night. Over 60 laps in final practice, Newman was eighth fastest among all drivers in average speed.

UPDATE: With the Suarez news, I’ve removed Newman as a cash game play and added…

Daniel Suarez ($7500) — With Suarez failing inspection, he will start from the rear and be scored from 39th place for DraftKings purposes. That gives him massive, massive place differential potential. He had the fastest 10-lap average in final practice, and Richmond is a good track for him anyway, with top-12 finishes in every Cup start. He’s an auto-start in cash, and I would own him very heavily in GPPs.


Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000) — I think Kyle Busch is in play as a potential dominator, but I have mixed feelings about Busch starting in the 12th position. Instead, I’m going to give the nod to Truex, starting in third, for a few reasons. First, he’s simply been better at Richmond than Kyle has, at least in terms of dominance since 2016. Truex has led 25 percent of all laps while Busch only 7.4 percent. Truex also boasts a higher fastest lap percentage than Busch. Next, starting position is extremely important, especially in the fall Richmond races. Drivers starting outside the top seven led only 3.2 percent of the laps in 2017 and 0.5 percent of the laps in 2016. In fact, since 2013, only one driver starting outside the top seven has led more than 3.5 percent of laps in the fall race (Carl Edwards with 11.5 percent in 2013). Finally, Truex is $800 cheaper.

UPDATE: With Kyle Busch repairing some damage, he’ll move to the rear for the start of the race, as if it’s a penalty (Kyle Busch will still be scored from 11th place starting position for DraftKings purposes after fifth-place qualifier Suarez failed inspection). That negates some of Busch’s dominator potential, and makes it all the more likely Truex is the second dominator.

Aric Almirola ($8300) — This is definitely a risky play, but I really like Almirola this weekend. He was second-quickest over 10 laps in the cooler temperatures, and made several long runs in final practice, totaling 78 laps for the second-most among all drivers (behind Joey Logano). That means he won’t show up on the top of the average speed chart in final practice, but it does mean he was happy enough with his car to be out there for such an extended period. Additionally, Almirola always seems to outrun his equipment at Richmond. Note his average finish in the two Richmond races each year relative to his points position in the Gen-6 era:

  • 2013: Richmond avg = 14, Points = 18
  • 2014: Richmond avg = 13.5, Points = 16
  • 2015: Richmond avg = 12, Points 17
  • 2016 Richmond avg = 19, Points = 26
  • 2017 Richmond avg = 13, Points = 24th*

(*Note: in 2017 Almirola finished 29th in the standings after missing seven races. I’ve prorated his points to a full season).

Also, as noted in the Truex section, it’s hard for dominators to come outside of the top seven, and both Hamlin and Blaney have struggled for speed in both practice sessions this weekend. Additionally, Richmond is not a great track for Blaney. That means the contrarian dominators are likely to come from Daniel SuarezKurt Busch, and Almirola. I’d put my money on Kurt Busch or Almirola from that trio.

UPDATE: Suarez’s failure means Almirola moves up a spot to sixth, which makes him an even riskier play if he doesn’t dominate. If you want a couple alternate plays in this price range, first I’d look toward Joey Logano ($8700) who will start 12th. Logano is underpriced, and has a great Richmond track history, with an average finish at Richmond of 4.4 since 2014. Additionally, I’d look toward Ryan Newman ($8100) in GPPs, who starts 16th. He was a good cash play until the Suarez news, and he’s still a fine GPP play.

SECOND UPDATE: Looking at both the sim scores and the model, I like Kurt Busch ($8500) as a potential contrarian dominator. He’s actually has the third hightest dominator upside after Harvick and Truex per the sim scores.

William Byron ($6800) — Austin Dillon figures to be the chalk in this price range starting 28th, but Byron I think has more upside. Dillon’s best finish at Richmond in his cup career is 13th (in nine races). Byron finished twelfth in his first ever Richmond cup race, posting the fifth best quality pass percentage among all drivers in that race. Byron was 14th and 10th quickest over 10 consecutive laps in the two practice sessions, so there’s speed in that car to move up from his 20th place starting position.


Ryan Blaney ($8900) — As mentioned in the Almirola section, Richmond is a terrible track for Blaney, with a career best finish of 18th in the Cup series. Blaney only posted the 16th best 10-lap average in final practice, and didn’t even make a 10-lap run off the truck. Starting from fourth, he’s a hard fade for me.

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