Kevin Harvick had a little luck on his side to win this past weekend and cement his spot in the second round of the playoffs. That’s what it takes to win a championship in this series. Sometimes you have the best car and don’t win, which is what happened to Martin Truex Jr. in my opinion. The playoff driver who took the biggest hit was probably Ryan Blaney who was docked 10 points for unapproved adjustments to his car before the race even started. He also lost his crew chief for the race and finished a disappointing 24th. The bottom eight are all close enough to the cutoff that the next two races should have some excitement in them.
FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400
This week the series heads to the Richmond Raceway for the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400. This is a three-quarter of a mile fairly flat race track which means a whole different setup from what the drivers had last weekend. Small pit road means there are likely to be some issues during pit stops for some drivers also.
Martin Truex Jr.: I’m going to go with Martin to bounce back from last weekend’s race and win this week. He won both races here last year and has lead almost one-thousand laps in his last seven starts here. Last week he probably had the best car. This week he takes advantage of it and locks his spot in the second round.
Kyle Busch: This has been a Joe Gibbs Racing dominated track the past two seasons. As I said before Martin won both races last season and Kyle won both races in 2018. Kyle came away in tenth place in the standings after last weeks race even though he doesn’t have a large cushion. This might be the week that he breaks into the win column though and moves into the second round of the playoffs. He’s always been very good here.
Denny Hamlin: Another of the Gibbs drivers, Denny has been very good at this type of track all year and throughout his career. This team always seems to have great handling cars and then they shoot themselves in the foot in some way during the race. That can’t happen in the playoffs. In his last nine starts at Richmond Denny has only finished outside of the top six once.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin is no stranger to great finishes here either. In his last eleven starts he has come away with eight top five finishes. He has won here twice in his career and now that he is guaranteed a spot in the second round all he’s looking for is another win and more playoff points. Win or finish anywhere else in the field. Only two positions in his mind this week.
Joey Logano: Joey actually has the best average finish out of all active drivers over the last six Richmond races. He has one win and two runner-up finishes in those starts. He really needs to have a good run to get back in the groove he was in earlier in the year. Now is the time to step up your game and make the most of your chances.
Brad Keselowski: Brad has been very good here in his career also. In fact in his last twelve starts here Brad has only finished outside the top eleven once and that was still another top twenty finish. Like his teammate, Joey Logano, this team needs to get back into the winning groove they were in earlier this year too. You need to be more consistent in the playoffs as one bad race could end up knocking you out or contention.
Ryan Newman: Ryan is my dark horse this week. Last season in his first year with Roush/Fenway Racing, Ryan finished in the top ten in both of the Richmond races. Even though his lone win here came way back in the 2003 season, Ryan has finished in the top ten in four of his last six starts. I’m willing to take a chance on him this week as we are running out of starts for some drivers.
Clint Bowyer: Clint was my stay away from driver last week, but this week he is a potential starter for me. He ran well last week where he came away with a tenth place finish and he has always been better at this track. He has finished in the top ten in each of his last four starts here and has two career wins at this track.
Chase Elliott: Two years ago Chase had two top five finished. Last year he had two top fifteen finishes. I think this year he might go back to a top five finish and maybe even win the race. This team has consistently shown they can run on any type of track and compete for the win. He isn’t afraid to trade a little paint and this team seems to communicate well as they adjust on their car during the race.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has three wins at this track in his career, but the last of those came back in the 2008 season. However, He hasn’t finished worse than twelfth in his last eleven starts. He might not win this weekend, but once again he should be competitive and come away with at least another top ten finish. Might be worth taking a chance on yet again.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS RICHMOND RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Busch
Driver Group Game Group B
- Ryan Newman
- Clint Bowyer
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
Driver Group Game Group C
- Ty Dillon
- Christopher Bell
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT RICHMOND RACEWAY
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
Dark Horse: Ryan Newman
Stay Away From: Matt DiBenedetto
Big 18: Ryan Newman