Welcome to the first Raceway Insider NASCAR Fantasy preview. We hope this will be a useful tool for you while filling out your Fantasy NASCAR lineup each week. We’ll have the top prospects to build your team around, and we’ll also have drivers to keep an eye on.
This article won’t fill out your lineup for you, but hopefully, it will help point you in the right direction where to start your team.
This weekend, NASCAR’s elite embark on the State Capital of Virginia and the Richmond International Raceway.
One would be remiss to ignore Joe Gibbs Racing’s recent performances at Richmond. In the past two races there, the worst JGR finish was an 11th place effort for Carl Edwards last fall. Kenseth won that race in dominant fashion. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch engaged in an epic duel for the win this Spring and Edwards emerged victoriously.
Joe Gibbs Racing is likely the team to beat. All five JGR-affiliated Toyota’s (including Martin Truex, Jr.) placed in the top five in 10-lap average during Final Practice on Friday.
Joey Logano — in his last five races at Richmond, Joey Logano’s 4.6 average finish is the highest of any driver. He also has led 165 laps, fifth most of any driver in that timespan. Logano finished eighth at Richmond this Spring and should be a contender Saturday night.
Kyle Busch — Busch led 78 laps this spring at Richmond en route to his second consecutive second place finish at the 0.75-mile short track. In his four starts at Richmond since the start of the 2014 season, he has an average finish of 5.2. Busch is also competing for the designation as the Chase’s top seed, as well as three more bonus points for the first round of the Chase.
Matt Kenseth — Since joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, Kenseth has an average finish of 11.2 at Richmond. However, that statistic is misleading. Since 2013, his worst Richmond finish is 41st. His second worst? 7th. He should be a solid bet this weekend.
Ones to Watch
Denny Hamlin — Hamlin hasn’t had as much recent success at Richmond as you might expect from a short track expert, but Hamlin has recorded a series-best seven consecutive top-ten finishes over the past two months. He finished sixth in both last fall and this spring’s races at Richmond and he’ll look to add three more bonus points for the Round of 16.
Jamie McMurray — Unlike Hamlin, McMurray isn’t locked in the Chase. However, he has turned in some solid performances at Richmond recently. In the past six races there, McMurray has an average finish of 9.0, good for fifth best among active drivers. Look for McMurray and his No. 1 team to pull out all the stops to ensure a good performance Saturday night.
Kasey Kahne — Like McMurray, Kahne isn’t locked in the Chase field. However, unlike McMurray, Kahne will almost certainly need a win to clinch a Chase berth. The good news? Kahne finished fourth there in this past Spring. Kahne has been wildly inconsistent this year so tread cautiously with him, but if there was a race to have him rostered this might be it.
Jeff Gordon — Yes, Gordon has had a fairly difficult stretch during his time as Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s replacement, but I believe Richmond presents an opportunity for him to have a strong run. His average finish of 5.4 over his last five races there is good enough for best in the Cup Series over that span. Gordon’s price for DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) is low enough I would potentially take a flier on him at Richmond.
Chris Buescher — Currently, Chris Buescher is currently 11 points ahead of David Ragan for 30th in the Sprint Cup Series standings. Buescher will clinch a Chase berth with a seventh-place finish, but he’ll likely be able to finish lower than that and still qualify for the Chase. I expect around a 20th place finish and Buescher should be able to qualify for his first Chase.