Fantasy NASCAR Picks-Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond

Pearce breaks down his picks for this weekend’s Xfinity and NASCAR races below!

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Now back to the great analysis from Pearce!

Monster Cup

The hog is going to come down to who is the best on a long run. Having a fast car and the pole will result in hog points, but not the most hog points. The car that is the best on a 20-30 lap run, that’s the driver that will score the most points.

Kevin Harvick – If he’s fast in practice, then there is no point in overthinking it. This might as well be another intermediate track.

Kyle Busch – He’s fast every week. Why would it change this week? He hasn’t won at Richmond since 2011, but he has the best average running position over the last six Richmond races. He should have won the spring 2016 race, but his teammate, Carl Edwards, moved him in the last turn. Some teammate.

Martin Truex, Jr. – This year the spring race is at night. Truex has scored the most points in the last two Richmond night races. He wins on the long run.

Kyle Larson – He hasn’t been hog #1 or #2, but he’ll run inside the top 5 all night. If he posts the best 20-30 lap long runs speeds, then I’ll have no problem ranking him #1. That’s not completely true. There is a bit of tire management at Richmond, and that gives Harvick and Truex an edge.

Brad Keselowski – I rarely play BK, but he’s a different driver at Richmond. We all know that his car could not compete with the other elite drivers for hog points last year, but Richmond was the exception. He scored 50 fast lap points in the spring and 17.5 fast lap points in the fall. This is no sure thing. We all know how Martinsville went down. He was fast in the Richmond practices last year. If he shows speed again this year, then I’ll be a believer.

Denny Hamlin – Somebody has to draw the bad pit gun. Hamlin could have won at Bristol. The pit gun situation is a joke. The idea that a universal pit gun will save teams money is a joke. The teams already spent millions in developing pit guns. Now, they can’t use those guns. If you want to save money, then make a rule about something the teams haven’t spent on yet.

Joey Logano – One year ago, Logano won at Richmond, but got busted for cheating. His season fell apart after Richmond. This weekend could be his redemption. Something clicked at Richmond when Logano joined Team Penske. JGR finishes: 19, 14, 16, 41 11, 35, 24, 30. Penske Finishes: 3, 22, 1, 6, 5, 3, 8, 10, 1, 2. Logano is the Adrian Beltre of NASCAR. They rushed him to the big leagues and he struggled. The fans and other drivers ridiculed him, but then it just clicked.

Ryan Blaney – We dodged another bullet last week. I could not pull the trigger on Blaney at Bristol. When asked in the Slack chat, I said Blaney was one of the possible hogs that just missed my list. I left him off because he said he was loose in and tight in the center. His practice speeds looked good, but I could not do it. He about Martinsvilled us. Fading Blaney is a dangerous game. I’ve got to have some Blaney lineups this week. The car is fast.

Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Aric Almirola – Tell me there is a difference. You are lying to yourself if you believe there is a major difference. Price and starting position are the only significant differences.

Erik Jones – The initial reaction is to downgrade a driver after a poor performance, but did Jones really perform poorly? He hit the wall at Bristol. Who doesn’t? His team had a glitchy pit gun, too. If he cost you money, then it’s hard to see the big picture. You can only see that he let you down. It’s tough to shake that the next week.

At Richmond, when you’re building lineups, Bristol subconsciously affects your picks. Do your best to keep him in your pool. You’re going to look for reasons to throw him out based on last week. Bristol has nothing to do with Richmond. Give Jones a fair look. The #20 has been one of the best cars at Richmond. It was amazing at Richmond last season. They will unload fast.

Alex Bowman and William Byron – What do you do with these two. If you’re willing to start believing in Bowman, then why not Byron? The equipment is the same (although spotter Brett Griffin thinks otherwise. He believes Byron is a better driver than the equipment that he’s been given. That’s rare. It’s usually the other way around for rookies). Bowman has experience, but does driving for BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin count? Don’t google it, who’s Tommy Baldwin? If you guessed that he owned a race team, then you’re right and that’s really all you need to know. That and the team sucked.

At the last intermediate tracks, Bowman wrecked on lap one, and Byron’s team raced from the back to the top 10 at treacherous track. Hendrick has taken a step forward. Both of these drivers are in play. All you need is for Bowman and Byron to hang around the top 15 all night. Also, don’t get too pumped about Bowman’s finish last week. If you had the pleasure of restarting on the outside line, then you shot to the front. If you started on the bottom, then you dropped like a rock. Bowman lined up on outside on the last restart.

Austin Dillon – I’m not anti-beard, but I’m anti Hollywood Hogan beard. There’s a man’s beard, and then there’s Austin’s beard. Just grow the damn thing out. I would root for Dillon if he looked like a Bray Wyatt. Stop trying to sell coca-cola, and try to do better than 15th. It’s cool to make the playoffs by running 15th, but there are barely 30 cars in NASCAR anymore. Half of the league makes the playoffs. Austin Dillon’s Richmond stats are unimpressive.

Ty Dillon – Landon Cassill, DiBenedetto, Lajoie, and D.J Kennington out raced Ty Dillon last week. GEICO makes a commercial about everything. They create 300 new commercials every year. How many Ty Dillon commercials have they made? Zero. I would be worried, if I was Ty. He’s about to follow the Elliott Sadler career path.

Bubba Wallace – Richmond is too much of an intermediate track and it’s too green. The only races where Bubba has been competitive were wreck fests (Daytona, Texas, and Bristol). Even at Bristol, Bubba fell apart. Once the race experienced normal green flag runs, Bubba faded fast. Put him in your pool in wreck fests. In the other races he sinks like an anchor.

A.J. Allmendinger – After Dillon and Bubba blurbs, I need to say something positive. A.J. has good hair. He looks like he never left Indycar. I can’t really say much about him as a driver. His best average running position in the last 4 Richmond races in 23rd. Other than Martinsville and Daytona, he has not had an average running position better than 20th this eason. There are some similarities between Richmond and Martinsville. Richmond feels like the intermediate track version of Martinsville. Some drivers excel at both tracks, but A.J. is not one of those drivers.

Chris Buescher – This is his 3rd year in Cup and 2nd year with JTG Daugherty. Another step forward was expected, but so far this season has been a step back. The bar wasn’t set very high. He can easily turn it around. In DFS we know what we want. A bad q spot and average practice speeds. That’s not asking much, Buesch.

David Ragan – If he earns 25 top 25s will he make the playoffs? He has 7 in 8 races. If you play cash, he’s your cash punt lock.

Matt DiBenedetto – Do you know why he’s been relevant this season? Pit gun issues. His team takes their time. A fast pit stop doesn’t matter to them. It’s not the difference between 1st and 10th for him. Other drivers go several laps down because of wheel issues or wrecks, and he just keeps turning laps. He admitted to this in a roundabout way. He said the way that they gain spots is on pit road. The slow pit gun is a huge advantage for the punts. They can take their time, while the elite drivers have to rush. Until NASCAR changes the pit guns, you should probably pick a cheap car that is turning laps or a punt every week.

Cole Whitt – A couple cars will wreck. A couple cars will have issues and lose laps.

Cole will cuationly turn laps and take his time on pit road, and walk away with a top 30 finish.

Ross Chastain He’ll do the same as Whitt.

Richmond feels like a lap turner. Before the mess at Texas that can be explained with science, and the mess at Bristol, it’s always a mess, this season was caution-free, lap turners. I want the cars up front or the cars that will run up front all day.

  • Fall 2017: 10 of the top 10 DFS scores at Richmond had average running positions inside the top 15.
  • Spring 2017: 9 of 10
  • Fall 2016: 7 of 10
  • Spring 2016: 9 of 10
  • Fall 2015: 7 of 10 (two drivers had average running positions of 16th)
  • Spring 2015: 10 of 10
  • Fall 2014: 9 of 10
  • Spring 2014: 9 of 10

It seems pretty clear to me (88% of top 10 DFS scores run inside the top 15). I need drivers that can run inside top 15 all night.

Last Spring the drivers that ran inside the top 15 were the same drivers that ran inside the top 15 at Martinsville in the spring.



Quick note: Based on the revised participation guidelines for 2018, Monster Energy Series drivers will not be part of the field for the four Dash 4 Cash races. That’s Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, and Dover.

Justin Allgaier – Last Spring, the elite Cup drivers (non-Dillons) did not race in Richmond race. Allgaier scored 76 hog points. He’s a favorite this weekend

Christopher Bell – Last week sucked. He’ll be fast again. He got part time experience last fall at Richmond  He ran inside the top 10 all race with a field with several elite Cup drivers.

Daniel Hemric – He’s racing for the $100,000 this weekend. Hamric’s average running position was 4th last fall. Basically, he ran behind Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski all night. In his two Xfinity races at Richmond he’s finished 4th and 3rd.

Elliott Sadler – The crafty veteran overcame multiple issues at Bristol. He’s not flashy, but he’s in the top 10 at the end (4 top 5s, 6 top 10s this season). Sadler has finished 7th or better in his last 4 races at his hometrack.

Cole Custer – How did I fall for that. He looked good in practice. He qualified well. He was confident. I bit. The Bristol race started and he was Cole Custer. He’s just not that good. He never did anything in a Truck driving for Dale Jr. He’s never done anything for SHR. Custer will always get top 10s because his car and team are so much better than the rest of the field. He’s just another silver spooner.

Ryan Reed – Why is he still in Xfinity? He’s not good enough to move up. Why hasn’t he been dropped? He brings a sponsor to the table. Reed has diabetes, and that makes him the perfect spokesman for Lilly Diabetes. With a big money sponsor why hasn’t he gotten better? Don’t you know that Big Pharma doesn’t want you to get better? They want you to stay sick.

John Hunter Nemechek – The #42 car is fast, but he’s out of control. He lost control and wrecked Custer at Atlanta. Wrecked himself at Fontana. He lost control and wrecked Sadler at Bristol. He finished 13th and barely outraced his dad last week.

Matt Tifft – Top 10 car, but not a hog.

Noah Gragson – Among the KBM Truck team alumni, he’s B team. Erik Jones, William Byron, and Christopher Bell were studs. Noah Gragson is more like Bubba Wallace. If you don’t jump to Xfinity after one season, then you simply don’t have it. His average finish in the truck series was 12th last season. Jones, Byron, and Bell averaged a 6th place finish. Bubba averaged a 12th place finish. He’s got a good car, but he’s not very good and jumping in an Xfinity car from a truck is not a walk in the park. Before you completely write him off, Gragson has one Truck win. A victory at the flat track in Martinsville.

Spencer Gallagher – Exact words from last week, “we won’t know if he’s getting better until he’s gotten better.” For me, last week was a huge step forward. Of course, taking the Cup drivers out handed Gallagher 5 spots, but he earned 5 more on his own and finished 5th.

Ryan Truex – Take out the Cup drivers and Turex is around a 10th place driver.

Jeb Burton – He was around a 20th place Xfinity Driver racing for JGL last year. In the RCR car, he could be a top 10 driver. Shane Lee looked pretty good in this car last week.

Joe Nemechek – If he ends up racing, he can earn a top 25.

Michael Annett – In the easy spring race (no cup drivers), Annett finished 8th. It’s hard to trust him. Bad luck or mistakes, they happen a lot.

Tyler Reddick – Somehow Tyler Reddick was the only driver that didn’t wreck. That is until the last lap, but his luck held up. He wrecked twice in practice, but avoided damage. The same thing happened in qualifying. In the race, every car got collected, but Reddick. On the last lap he slammed into the wall, then ricocheted into Austin Cindric. It ruined Cindric’s day, but Reddick was still able to finish 7th. I’ve never seen that much luck throughout a weekend.

Brandon Jones – I’m not going to allow last week to affect my view of Jones. He’s a top 10 driver, but he’s not a hog. With RCR, he struggled at Richmond.

Austin Cindric – He’ll be a top 10 driver in the 22, but he’s not a hog.

Joey Gase – This is a decent car and Gase takes care of it. He’s Matt DiBenedetto if the Cup field had 45 cars and 40 through 45 were junkers.

Dylan Lupton/Tony Mrakovich– This car is cursed. Last week, Mrakovich was ordered out of this car by NASCAR. Something happens to this JGL car every week.

Chase Briscoe – He’s the only driver that does well in the #60 car. This is his first race at Richmond in any series. It’s not the most complicated track, but it’s still a disadvantage.

Ryan Sieg – The Xfinity series is weird. Sieg wrecked his car in qualifying. There is no way they can fix the car in 2 hours. J.J. Yelley gives Sieg his car and Yelley drives the wrecked car for 40 laps before parking. Sieg earns a top 15 in Yelley’s car. This meant nothing for fantasy, but the driver/car changes during the weekend are hard to follow. Especially, when they’re not reported.

Alex Labbe – My rookie of the year darkhorse wasn’t a fantasy option, but he looked good last week. He’ll benefit again from a Cup-less field. Labbe was in two wrecks, and still finished 11th.

Ross Chastain – He’s 15th to 20th on a regular week. He’ll get the bump again this week. He’s good enough to outrace inexperienced drivers in elite cup rides (18, 42, 3, etc.).

Jeremy Clements – The guy that never wrecks at Bristol was the first to wreck. Isn’t that the way it always works? A top 20 in his last 3 races at Richmond. A top 20 in his last 3 races before Bristol. Outside of Daytona, Clements only crashed once last year. He only crashed twice in 2016. When you are the guy working on the car, you’re a little less reckless.

Garrett Smithley – Take out the Cup drivers and throw in some wreckouts of top 20 cars, and 25th-ley turns into 15th-ley. No Cup this week, but probably not many wrecks either.

Vinnie Miller – He hasn’t been on my radar in weeks. When Miller is priced accurately in the lows 5s, then he’ll be back on my radar.

Kaz Grala – Wrecks happen at Bristol. He should be a top 20 car. He has raced twice at Richmond in the K&N series, but I don’t think that matters. The car will likely decide the outcomes this week, and in this field, he has a 15th to 20th place car.

David Starr – He never runs laps in practice. Look it up. During the race, he turns laps and tries to stay alive for a 30th place finish. The last couple weeks I have said forget about the engine issues on the west coast. Get that out of your mind. He’s a punt that’s aware that he’s is a DFS punt.

Spencer Boyd – The two week top 25 streak is likely going to come to an end this week. Texas and Bristol were wreck fests. If Boyd survives, he finishes 30th.

Stephen Leicht – DNF in the last 3 races.

Chad Finchum Check his twitter log from last week. It sounds like he S&P’d last week. His DNF streak is at 5.

J.J. Yeley – Last week’s S&P is understandable; he was driving Sieg’s wrecked car. By Friday evening, we should know what he’s going to do and whether he is in play, but he’s never really in play at his price.

B.J. McLeod – I still don’t believe it. How did he finish 20th? I know there were wrecks. I know the cup driver didn’t race at Bristol. B.J. wrecked in practice on Friday. The team drove back to North Carolina, and worked on the car all night. Somehow, he finishes 20th on Saturday. Xfinity DFS is chess and Cup is checkers.

Tommy Joe Martins – The BJM team overcame adversity last week. I was certain that the stress on the team would hurt General Tojo, but he completed 293 of the 300 crazy laps. This #8 car is becoming a DFS legend.

Brandon Brown/Josh Williams – Mario Gosselin’s cars are decent. Mario Gosselin’s drivers are decent. Brandon Brown finished 25th and 27th in this car at Richmond last year.

Timmy Hill – At the short tracks, he might try to build up his lap total. Finishing the race is another story.

Josh Bilicki –  The Bilicki Glitch works if he starts last, but the price is way too high.

Mike Harmon – S&P at Fontana, fails to qualify at Texas, sells his seat to Cody Ware at Bristol. I have no idea what he’ll do this week.

Jeff Green – S&P All Star.

Morgan Shepard – S&P All Star.

Remember to check out the FanVice Premium Slack where I will be answering questions on race day for both races along with post-qualifying cheat sheets and projections for both races.

Good Luck! ~ Pearce