Fantasy NASCAR at Richmond 2014: Picks, Top Drivers for Federated Auto Parts 400
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Richmond, Virginia, this week for the Federated Auto Parts 400. The race Saturday night is the last race before the Chase begins.
NASCAR teams will use different strategies in this race, depending on their position in the standings. Some teams will play it safe because they have a good chance to make it into the Chase on points (Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman). Other teams will take any risk possible because they need the win to advance to the playoffs (Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray). Meanwhile, the teams already locked into the Chase will try to get a win to secure bonus points.
Fantasy teams must realize the position their drivers are in before they add drivers to their team this week.
The drivers who are dominating the races now are the same drivers who dominated the April race at Richmond. Kyle Larson won the pole, but he did not lead any laps. Brad Keselowski led the first 31 laps and led 114 laps on the day before finishing fourth. Jeff Gordon dominated the middle of the race by leading the most laps (173) and finishing second. Joey Logano drove past Matt Kenseth, Keselowski and Gordon with three laps left to put his car in Victory Lane.
Here are my picks for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond.
Yahoo Group A Picks
There are many good options in Group A in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing this week.
Gordon, Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch all ran well in the spring race at Richmond. These drivers should run well again Saturday night.
Clint Bowyer has a series-best driver rating over the last five races at Richmond. He was in contention in the spring race until he had problems with his tires.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a history of running up front at Richmond. He is tied for the third-best average finish at the race track over the last five races.
And, of course, Jimmie Johnson cannot be counted out at any race track. He has won twice in the fall race at Richmond. Johnson will try to add another win to his total before the Chase begins.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A, with the number of allocations I have left with each driver in parentheses.
Kevin Harvick (2)
Harvick dominated most of Sunday's race at Atlanta. The problem with the No. 4 team has been its inability to get the car serviced in under 11 seconds, as well as bad luck. But Harvick’s luck may change Saturday night.
He ran well in the spring race at Richmond, although his 11th-place finish does not tell the story. Harvick qualified fifth and had the fifth-best driver rating in the race. He will have a good chance to win the pole and lead most of the laps this week.
Matt Kenseth (8)
Kenseth is one of the safest picks in the race this week. He may not win the race, but he will finish up front. Kenseth has four consecutive top-10 finishes at Richmond, along with a series-best average finishing position and the second-best driver rating over the last five races at the track.
Harvick is a good pick to win the pole, and Kenseth would be a good selection to use in the race.
Other good choices: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer
Yahoo Group B Picks
I may sound like a broken record, but Team Penske's drivers are the best picks in Group B again this week. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano combined to lead 140 laps, and both drivers finished in the top four in the spring race at Richmond.
It will be risky selecting your Group B drivers this week. Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose need a win to make the Chase. A top-10 finish will not help them. These drivers may take unnecessary risks to try to end up in Victory Lane, and the risk may not be worth the reward to have these drivers on your team this week.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Brad Keselowski (2)
I am quickly running out of allocations with Keselowski, but the 10 bonus points for qualifying are too important to leave him off my team. Keselowski started second in the spring race at Richmond, and he should be a serious threat to win the pole for the race Saturday night. If you have multiple allocations left with Keselowski, you are in luck. His stats at the track suggest he has a chance to win another race before the Chase begins.
Joey Logano (1)
Logano won the spring race at Richmond. He did not have the best car, but the team worked on it, and he was able to find his way to the front at the end of the race. This has become a common theme for Logano this season. He's finished five of the last six races in the top six.
The only race he failed to finish in the top six was his 14th-place run last week at Atlanta. He was up front for most of that race as well. Logano will finish in the top five this week.
Ryan Newman (5)
Unless Newman has a horrible race Saturday night, he will make the Chase on points. Richmond is one of his best race tracks, so there is a chance he could find his way to Victory Lane and not have to worry about the points. Newman finished third in this race last year and eighth in the spring race. He is a good pick for a top-10 finish this week.
Carl Edwards (6)
Edwards has been much better on the short tracks this season than he has been on the intermediate race tracks. For this reason, I am taking a chance with him on my team. Edwards has the second-best average finishing position and the fifth-best driver rating in the last five races at Richmond. He won this race last season and could win it again Saturday night.
Other good choices: Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart
Yahoo Group C Picks
Group C will not be as difficult this week as it was in the first race at Richmond. Jeff Burton filling in for Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon making his Sprint Cup debut provided other options in this group. There will be other drivers filling seats as we get closer to the end of the season, so fantasy teams will not have to worry about using Larson and Austin Dillon for every race.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Kyle Larson (1)
Larson won the pole for the spring race at Richmond, and I am hoping that he can do it again. Since I only have one allocation with him left, I do not plan on using him in the race. There are many good drivers this week, so picking a driver to go with Larson should not be difficult.
Austin Dillon (5)
Dillon did not have a good race in his first visit to Richmond, but he should be much better in his second trip to the track. In the spring race, Dillon both qualified and finished 27th. He should finish inside the top 20 this week.
Other Good Choices: Justin Allgaier and Danica Patrick
Fantasy Live Picks
Fantasy Live Picks: Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Michael Annett, Reed Sorenson
The advice for Fantasy Live is to select drivers who start up front in the race Saturday night. Track position will be important, and passing was not easy in the last race at Richmond.
Since there are 400 laps in the race, there will be 200 available bonus points for leading laps. Fantasy teams that can lead the most laps will outscore their competition this week.
Fox Fantasy Racing
Unlike Fantasy Live, Fox Fantasy Racing only rewards one point for leading a lap, regardless of how many laps the driver leads. For this reason, teams must select drivers who start in the back with a chance of moving to the front.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for the race at Richmond:
Captain: Jeff Gordon
Driver 2: Carl Edwards
Driver 3: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Driver 4: Kasey Kahne
Driver 5: Kyle Larson