NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond

Well COTA was fun, especially for William Byron, who became the first repeat winner of the season, earning Hendrick Motorsports' 28th road course win. It was William's 12th Cup Series career win, and his first-ever victory from the pole position. I know we're only six races into the season, but two early season wins from this 26-year-old seems like a warning shot for the rest of the field.

As we turn to this weekend's racing at Richmond, we're bound to see those drivers with late model racing experience shine. You know, those drivers who really know how to manage their tires.
This Week's Pick Strategy:
Joe Gibbs Racing will be hard to beat this weekend. They are just that good here, but you can never count out Hendrick Motorsports. I have a feeling we could also see one of those tire-manager elite drivers play spoiler. I will build a veterans-based line up this weekend, but add in a pick or two to anticipate an upset. After all, NASCAR fans love an upset just as much as college basketball fans do.

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years and 9/2020 race):
All with 4 - Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, and Austin Dillon
All with 3 - Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski 

By Track (2019 to 2023)
Both with 8 - Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch 
Both with 7 - Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano 
All with 5 - Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, and Austin Dillon

Last Year's Pole Winner: Qualifying cancelled due to weather; Alex Bowman started from the pole
Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Larson

The Likely Suspects: My Richmond elite drivers include Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, and Austin Dillon. 

My 2 Cents:  This week's no-brainer pick is a tie between Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. My next picks are Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, and Josh Berry. I'll complete my roster with Ryan Preece and Todd Gilliland.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman, and Todd Gilliland.

Second-look driver: This week's sleeper pick is Josh Berry. Having built a career on short track successes, Richmond is definitely in his wheelhouse. Josh made his Cup Series debut here last year piloting the No. 9 for an injured Chase Elliott. Josh qualified poorly, starting 30th. But boy was it fun watching him drive through the field field, earning a second-place finish. He also led 10 laps. Oh, did I mention that Berry’s spotter this season is Eddie D’Hondt, Chase Elliott’s former spotter who made the calls for Berry last year for his runner-up finish? And, as if that weren't enough to make you consider putting Berry on your fantasy team, he happens to be great at managing tires.

Points to Ponder:
  • The pole is the most prolific starting position in the field, producing more winners than any other starting position at Richmond Raceway with 24 (18.18%).
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Richmond Raceway with 18 poles among 11 different drivers.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing leads the NASCAR Cup Series in victories at Richmond Raceway with 18 wins among six drivers.
  • Hendrick Motorsports has the second-most Cup Series wins at Richmond with 12 victories.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in wins at Richmond with six victories, in runner-up finishes with seven, in Top 5s with 19, and in Top 10s with 28. Kyle also leads active drivers in average finishing position at Richmond Raceway with a 7.083 in 36 starts.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers with 2,226 laps led in 34 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 30th and your final picks by 7 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, March 31st.
Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 17 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, March 29, 2024 Rating: 5