TOYOTA OWNERS 400 at Richmond
Well, I think it’s safe to say that we can expect a little less attrition this weekend as the drivers of the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series head to Virginia to run the ninth race of the young season. Last week’s race in Bristol saw Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finish in the high 30’s thanks to hitting a few other cars while Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney finished 33rd and 34th respectively as they just couldn’t get anything going.
Richmond International Raceway is a three quarter mile ‘D’-shaped track that usually provides a lot of action as the corners sit at a 14 degree angle while the track flattens out to eight degrees on the front stretch. The back stretch is almost completely flat with just two degrees of banking which only means that you won’t see as much of the tire wear or brake wear as we saw last week in Tennessee.
Usually it takes 400 laps to complete a race here in Richmond with overtime needed last fall and then again back in the spring of 2013. Only 38 cars will start the race as that is all that bothered to show up for this weekend’s event. Without any further ado, let’s get down to the business.
Matt Kenseth – $8,800 – Kenseth will start on the pole for Sunday’s 63rd Annual Toyota Owners 400 and with his bargain of a price, he should be on your radar this weekend. The pole sitter has won two of the last five races here in Richmond and if that wasn’t enough the driver of the # 20 Circle K Toyota has notched seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts at this track. The only worry here is that Kenseth has finished 36th or worse three times so far this season but with the ability to lead some laps and his recent history, he looks like a pretty safe pick here.
Joey Logano -$10,100 – Besides his 31st finish back on March 19th Logano has finished sixth or better in the other seven races run so far this year. That my friends is consistency and although he is yet to win a race this season it is surely not out of the question come Sunday afternoon. The driver of the # 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford has also racked up seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts here at Richmond so starting from the fifth position shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Logano or his chances for yet another top 10 finish.
Kevin Harvick -$10,400 – Harvick may be a little pricy here but he could still be worth the investment as he has grabbed four top five finishes in his last five starts here in Virginia. The driver of the # 4 Busch Light Ford will start sixth for Sunday’s race with the only concern being his slowest speed of the weekend coming in the last practice on Saturday afternoon. I’m not sure if they were trying something different but it’s awfully suspicious when you qualify sixth and then drop from the second fastest car in the morning practice down to the 26th spot in the final practice. Harvick does have two good finishes under his belt over the last two races so look for him to at least hang in there when the green flag drops Sunday afternoon.
Look for Brad Keselowski ($9,700) and Kyle Busch ($10,600) to rebound this weekend as well as both have at least five top 10 finishes in their last 10 starts here with Busch starting from the seventh spot and Keselowski starting back a few rows in the 15th position on the grid. Meanwhile Kyle Larson ($10,300) looks to have found another gear as he was the fastest car in Saturday’s final practice. Larson will start 18th and will try to work his way through the field.
Clint Boyer – $8,500 – If Clint Bowyer keeps this up he will surely be in the 9k range or higher within a few weeks. He has finished 13th or better in seven of the eight races so far since taking over for Tony Stewart in the # 14 car at the beginning of the season. Stewart retired at the end of last year which opened the door for Bowyer to become a relevant driver once again.
When Bowyer was running a car for Michael Waltrip he wasn’t a bad driver as he had six top ten finishes in eight races here in Richmond which included a win in the fall of 2012. It was then on to racing for Harry Scott Jr. in which he really didn’t get to compete as he finished the last two races he started here well out of the top 10. Bowyer looks like a solid pick here as he is racing for a much better team and will start from the eight spot on the grid come Sunday afternoon.
Auston Dillon – $7,400 – I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of folks will roster Dillon because of his price and the fact that he will start dead last thanks to failing the pre-race laser inspection five times. Yes, you read that right, five times! The good news is that Dillon has finished 13th, 5th and 11th in three of the last four races so starting from the back could yield a few position points at the very least. Between the car under him and the talent in the seat he should easily be able to finish in the top 20 today.
Kasey Kahne ($7,600), Erik Jones ($8,100) and Ryan Blaney ($7,900) are a few other drivers to take a look at in this price range. Although Kahne hasn’t done much since the first two races this season he does have three top six finishes in his last four starts here in Richmond. Meanwhile Jones has put up some nice practice numbers as he starts from the 20th position while Blaney has the opportunity to lead some laps as he starts on the outside pole.
Danica Patrick – $6,000 – It’s been the same old story for the only female on the circuit, qualify badly and finish worse. This has happened five times so far this season but upon further review, that may not be the case this weekend. The driver of the # 10 Code 3 Associates Ford will start from the 21st position when the green flag falls in Richmond on Sunday afternoon. Patrick has been able to finish 15th and 19th in two of her last three starts here in Richmond and may be able to finally crack the top 10 here this weekend. Of course this is a longshot but looking at the other driver’s in this price range, you could surely do worse.
That will put a wrap on another peek inside the world of Nascar for this weekend. Be sure to check back here at FanVice for all of your fantasy needs throughout the year. As always follow me on twitter @elctrceye and good luck in your contests this weekend.