This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400. This will be the fourth race on a short racetrack for the Gen-6 car. The race is under the lights Saturday night and could result in more post-race altercations.
Track position has been very important in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The last three race winners have started from the pole position. There is a good chance it could happen again this week. There have been 113 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond, and 22 of them have been won from the pole.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live game should be to select drivers who will start up front in the race. Since there are 400 laps in the race and each team receives one point for every two laps led, a driver who leads many laps would score a lot of points for your team.
Unlike the Fantasy Live game where fantasy players have until the drop of the green flag to select their team, people playing the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game must have their lineups selected early on Friday morning. The first practice and qualifying will begin after your team has been selected, so players will not have any data to use when selecting their team.
Have no fear, I can help.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game…
When you look at the stats for the drivers in Group A, the driver who stands out is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has two wins, seven top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and two poles in his 14 career races at Richmond.
Fantasy NASCAR players will have to decide what to do with Hamlin this week. Joe Gibbs Racing has not announced yet if Hamlin will race this week. If he does race, he is a great pick but comes with some risk after returning from an injury.
Tony Stewart may be a popular pick this week because of his success at Richmond. Stewart has three wins, 11 top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes in his 28 career races at Richmond. I would not recommend him this week based upon how poorly he has been running this season.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career stats at Richmond…
Clint Bowyer won the last race at Richmond. He has been running well on the short racetracks this season. Bowyer finished sixth at Phoenix, fifth at Bristol and second at Martinsville.
Bowyer has two wins, two top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes in his 14 career races at Richmond. Bowyer has the fourth-best average running position of 10.2, the fourth-best driver rating of 98.5 and his 437 quality passes are sixth-most in the series.
Bowyer would be an excellent choice this week for Group A.
Kasey Kahne is off to a hot start to the 2013 season. Currently second in the point standings, Kahne is coming off a second-place finish at Kansas. He finished fourth at Martinsville and won the race at Bristol.
Kahne has one win, four top-five finishes, seven top-10 finishes and one pole in his 18 career races at Richmond. Kahne’s 323 fastest laps run are the fourth most, and his 378 quality passes are eighth most in the series.
If Denny Hamlin does not start the race, Kahne would be a great option for Group A. If Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Hamlin is racing, I would select Hamlin for this spot.
Other good choices: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon
There will be many familiar picks in Group B. Fantasy NASCAR players would like to save some of the best drivers for later in the season, but the top drivers in the group all perform well at Richmond.
My sleeper pick this week is Jeff Burton. The Virginia native performs well at his home racetrack. Burton finished the last race at Richmond in sixth place.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon their career stats at Richmond…
Kyle Busch had a horrible race last week at Kansas. He will bounce back this week at Richmond. Busch is the best driver in the field this week.
Busch has four wins, 12 top-five finishes, 13 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 16 career races at Richmond. Busch has the second-best driver rating of 113.9, the second-most fastest laps run with 508, the second-most laps run in the top 15 with 5,607 and the third-best average running position of 7.6.
Do not be scared away from Busch because of his finish last week. He is almost a lock for a top-five finish.
Carl Edwards has become one of the best drivers at Richmond over the past six races at the racetrack. He has finished five of the last six races at Richmond in the top 10.
Edwards has three top-five finishes, eight top-10 finishes and one pole in his 17 career races at Richmond. Edwards has the sixth-most green flag passes with 816 and the 10th-best average running position of 15.3.
Edwards is a good selection this week at Richmond.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole for the September race and finished second in the April race at Richmond in 2012. He has been hit or miss at Richmond, but the way he is driving this year, I think he will finish in the top 10 this week.
Earnhardt has three wins, nine top-five finishes, 11 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 27 career races at Richmond. Earnhardt has the fifth-most fastest laps run with 320 and the fifth-most green flag passes with 820.
Earnhardt will score his sixth top-10 finish this week at Richmond.
Mark Martin knows how to get around Richmond. He won the pole for this race last year and has finished his last three starts at the racetrack in the top 10.
Martin has one win, 18 top-five finishes, 30 top-10 finishes and five poles in his 54 career races at Richmond. Martin’s average running position of 13.1 is seventh best, his 4,099 laps run in the top 15 are seventh best and he has the seventh-best driver rating of 92.6.
Martin is my pick to win the pole this week and score your fantasy team 10 bonus points.
Other good choices: Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Jeff Burton
Last week, fantasy NASCAR players had many choices for Group C. Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. made their debut in NASCAR’s top series. This week it will be back to the usual drivers.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C…
A.J. Allmendinger will be back in the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing this week. Ryan Truex was supposed to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this week, but he is injured, so Allmendinger got the call to drive the car.
Allmendinger only has one top-10 finish in his 11 career races at Richmond, but he has finished the last five races at the racetrack in the top 20.
Allmendinger has been very good when he is in the field in 2013. He has finished all three of his races this season in the top 16. Allmendinger is the best pick in Group C this week.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
There are better racetracks to use Ricky Stenhouse, but with the talent pool so small this week he is an obvious choice for all teams.
Stenhouse has never raced at Richmond in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but he has had a lot of success in the Nationwide Series at the racetrack. Stenhouse has five top-five finishes and one pole in his six career races at Richmond.
Hope that Allmendinger qualifies well and runs well in practice so you do not have to use Stenhouse. If you do have to use him, you should be able to get a top-25 finish from him.
Other good choices: Casey Mears and David Ragan
2012 April Race at Richmond Pole-Sitter: Mark Martin, 128.327 mph
2012 April Race at Richmond Winner: Kyle Busch, Started No. 5
2012 September Race at Richmond Pole-Sitter: Dale Earnhardt Jr., 127.023 mph
2012 September Race at Richmond Winner: Clint Bowyer, Started No. 4
Most Wins at Richmond, Active Drivers: 3—Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson
Most Poles at Richmond, Active Drivers: Jeff Gordon (5)
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Clint Bowyer 2008, started No. 31
Races Won from the Pole: 22 of 113
Races Won from Top Five: 64 of 113
Races Won from Top 10: 89 of 113
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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