The Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway this weekend. After visiting Bristol and Martinsville the last couple of weeks, Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 will be the third short track race in a row.
When it comes to building NASCAR DFS lineups for DraftKings, the dominator categories will once again be front and center. There are 400 laps on tap at the low-banked, 0.75-mile oval, which means drivers will have ample opportunities to pile up points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
In last weekend's 500-lap race at Martinsville, we saw Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney lead more than 150 laps. Last fall at Richmond, Brad Keselowski led almost half the laps, but a total of five drivers led more than 40 laps. I expect a similar trend this Sunday, so hitting the top dominator is a must. The top GPP lineups will probably be made up of drivers who earn dominator points and finish at the front.
A few intriguing place differential-based plays with high floors should prove valuable, especially in cash lineups. However, pricing will dictate that midrange drivers who can run near the front and chip in some dominator points are probably going to be the path to the highest scores.
Martin Truex Jr. ($11,400)
His short track dominance continued with a win at Martinsville last weekend. I expect another big performance out of Truex Sunday. He starts from the pole, and he has finished third or better in the last four Richmond races, sweeping the 2019 events. More importantly, Truex has led at least 109 laps in five of the last six races here, leading 160+ laps three times. He has logged double-digit fastest laps in all six starts in that span, topping 30 fastest laps four times.
Denny Hamlin ($11,000)
Hamlin's flat track prowess was on full display last weekend at Martinsville when he led 276 laps and logged 81 fastest laps, and double-digit fastest laps have been the norm for him at Richmond. He led 45 laps and recorded 17 fastest laps in last year's race, but a speeding penalty ruined what was shaping up to be a dominant night. Hamlin should pile up his share of dominator points from the front row and have a solid chance at being the top scorer Sunday.
Brad Keselowski ($12,000)
Last weekend, his mechanical problems had him starting 20th, giving Keselowski one of the highest floors this weekend. Not only did he led 192 laps in a win at Richmond last season, but he has finished 11th or better in 10 straight races here, posting a 6.5 average finish. With his blend of reliability and upside, Keselowski should be a staple of your cash lineups.
Alex Bowman ($8,800)
Richmond hasn't been his strongest track overall. Still, Bowman finished a career-best ninth in last year's race, and he had a top-5 run going at Martinsville last weekend before a loose wheel derailed his day. Hendrick cars have been fast all year, and starting 24th on Sunday, Bowman is a top-10 threat with the differential points available to post a strong score.
Austin Cindric ($8,600)
He only has two Cup starts under his belt, but Cindric has been able to stay out of trouble and take advantage of the place differential category in both of them. He gained 24 spots and finished 15th in the Daytona 500, and he moved up 17 spots and finished 22nd at Atlanta. Cindric will have to start dead last again Sunday, and even if he just sneaks into the top 25, he will be looking at a respectable point total.
Aric Almirola ($8,200)
Almirola has dealt with a lot of bad luck in 2021, but he has had some success at flatter tracks in the past, and his best finish to date came at Phoenix when he finished 11th. He cracked the top 10 at Richmond last year, and he finished 16th in the fall race in 2019. Set to start 22nd, Almirola looks like a solid bet to land in the top 15 and deliver around 40 fantasy points at a price that you can easily fit into a balanced lineup.
Erik Jones ($7,600)
A mechanical issue at Martinsville has him starting 30th, but despite some equipment issues throughout the year, Jones brings a 21.6 average finish into Richmond. He has been able to run inside the top 20 in his first year with Richard Petty Motorsports, and he has even managed a couple of top-10s. Thanks to the differential points at his disposal, a mid-pack finish is all he will need to post a solid score this weekend.
Joey Logano ($10,600)
He has been a force at the 750-horsepower tracks dating back to last season, and he has been one of the best at Richmond for a while. Logano led 45 laps and recorded 27 fastest laps in a third-place effort last year, and his six top-5s in that last 10 races here are tied for the most in the series. If you plan on fading the front-row starters, I like Logano as a contrarian dominator.
Christopher Bell ($7,800)
He had a solid debut at Richmond last year, gaining 11 spots and finishing 15th for Leavine Family Racing. He won't have differential points to pad his point total this weekend, but as we have seen all year, Bell has a much higher ceiling now that he is with Joe Gibbs Racing. He is coming off a top-10 run at Martinsville, and he had a ton of success at Richmond at the XFINITY level, winning three of his five starts. I think Bell is a sleeper candidate for a top-5 finish and some dominator points.
Austin Dillon ($7,500)
Dillon has been legitimately fast at Richmond the last couple of years, finishing sixth or better in three of the last four races. Last year, he finished fourth despite a speeding penalty, leading 55 laps and logging 56 fastest laps. Dillon has recorded double-digit fastest laps in the last three races here. While he doesn't have many differential points available from the 11th starting spot, he does offer dominator upside and top-5 potential for a midrange price.
Tyler Reddick ($7,200)
Reddick has been building a little momentum during this stretch of short track races, notching top-10s at Bristol and Martinsville. He finished 11th in his Richmond debut last year. Perhaps more importantly, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Austin Dillon, also had a fast car in that race. Reddick has been a boom-or-bust DFS option all season, but RCR seems to have a setup that works at Richmond. He could be a top-10 threat and a great contrarian to mid-pack qualifiers like Aric Almirola.
Daniel Suarez ($6,600)
He got caught up in a big wreck at Martinsville last weekend. However, despite the rough outing, Suarez still owns a 20.9 average finish for Trackhouse Racing this year. He has finished 21st or better and gained at least six spots in five of the eight races and starting 27th, he has the potential to be a cheap source of 30+ fantasy points.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.