NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Toyota Owners 400
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes has you covered with his current form and odds breakdown as well as his track preview to spotlight this week's venue. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, Jim also discussed the Daytona 500 on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Denny Hamlin was the man in charge all day at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, as he led 276 of 500 laps until the his car started to fade late. Martin Truex Jr. was the man to capitalize, as he led the last 20 laps for his second win of 2021 and his third at Martinsville in four tries. NASCAR stays at a Virginia short track this weekend, as the next 400 laps on the schedule will be at Richmond Raceway. This 0.75-mile, multi-groove short track is a favorite for many drivers. For DFS, we'll once again be chasing laps-led points, but Richmond also gives drivers a chance to pass, as well.
The starting lineup for this event was set through NASCAR's general qualifying format, which is a weighted average of the prior race's finishing position, prior race's fastest lap, and driver points. That formula put Truex on the pole, and Hamlin is on the outside of the front row. Pit stalls for the event were selected in the same order.
With that in mind, let's preview the Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond on FanDuel.
Brad Keselowski ($13,500): Keselowski has not yet cashed in this year on the dominant short, flat-track speed he had last season, but it is still hard to ignore him given that data from 2020 in combination with his teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney leading significant laps in back-to-back weeks. In the lone Richmond event last year, Keselowski won the final two stages and the race with 179 laps led. After an accident last week, Keselowski is starting 20th and has place-differential upside, which is normally a fool's errand for the top-tier drivers on short tracks. However, with a proven track record and team speed in mind, Keselowski may accomplish far more Sunday than just passing a few cars.
Denny Hamlin ($13,000): After a heartbreaker for the Virginia native last week, Hamlin will have a chance to rebound in another race in his home state. Hamlin is a three-time Richmond winner in his career, and last September, he was running well before a mid-race issue, taking Stage 1 and leading 45 laps. Hamlin sports outstanding recent form, as he has finished in the top five in all six stages the last two weeks at short tracks. Likely carrying a giant chip on his shoulder following last week's sour ending, Hamlin is among the favorites to win the race, and he could lead a lot of laps from his starting spot of second.
Kevin Harvick ($10,800): It feels strange to see Harvick in the mid-range tier given that he won nine times in 2020, but 2021 has been a different story. He is still winless but has six top-10 finishes -- quietly displaying solid form. Harvick had no experience on dirt in Bristol two weeks ago and has never run particularly well at Martinsville, so this week presents an opportunity to buy low on a driver who has had plenty of success at Richmond. Amazingly, he has a streak of top-15 finishes here that dates back to September of 2012. In that span, Harvick has posted nine top-five efforts. Harvick has not dominated and flashed race-winning speed at Richmond, and his salary is easy to like. He's starting seventh.
Austin Dillon ($8,500): Last September at Richmond, no driver outperformed expectations more than Dillon did. Dillon led 55 laps and overcame a pit-road penalty to still finish fourth. Richmond is arguably Dillon's best track, and he has finished sixth or better in three of the past four races here. Dillon's current form is in its usual spot with five top-15 finishes in eight races this year. If Dillon were starting further back in the field, he would be a popular core play. But with him starting 11th, Dillon's draft percentage may be lower than it should be given his track history and current form.
Aric Almirola ($7,800): Stewart-Haas Racing has struggled across the board in 2021, and the organization is generally down on speed -- and luck. Almirola has finished 30th or worse in four of eight races, but that has not been due to a lack of speed as much it has been caused by on-track incidents. Starting 22nd, Almirola is in a solid slot from a place-differential perspective. He has some upside as well as minimal risk of going a lap down in traffic. Almirola finished eighth last September with a top-15 running position in all three stages, and if he can bring comparable speed this weekend, he can be a great value play on a slate without many of them.
Austin Cindric ($6,000): The 2020 Xfinity Series champion is making select Cup Series starts in 2021 to prepare for his 2022 full-time schedule with Wood Brothers Racing. Because his team does not run every event, Cindric will start from the rear in all of his appearances, which will make him an enticing low-salary option whenever he's on the slate. This week is no exception as he's starting 38th. Cindric finished 4th and 10th in the Xfinity Series doubleheader at Richmond last September, and while this is far from his best track, his equipment and talent is much better than the rest of the drivers starting in the rear. As such, Cindric's floor is incredibly high for cash games, and he should be a staple in that format. But he will need to avoid being lapped early to unlock his ceiling for tournaments, so you can make a case for fading him in that format.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.