Playoff racing in the MENCS is always exciting. The only way to make it better is to have a short track race under the lights on a Saturday night. That is what we get this week as the series travels back to Richmond Raceway. The first race at the track in was dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing. Will they do the same this week? The Federated Auto Parts 400 can be seen Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
One of the changes this season for the Driver Group Game is that your league commissioner has the ability to change to number of allocations for each driver and can place drivers into any group they choose. My picks will be based on the default settings (8 allocations per driver and the original group settings).
Here are my picks for Richmond…
Driver Group Game A Picks
Kyle Busch (2): Busch was on the radio during practice telling his team how horrible his car was. I looked at the scoring monitor and the No. 18 car was fastest in race trim and fastest on most of the multiple-lap speed charts at the time. Sometimes I wonder if he will ever be happy. Maybe it will be Saturday night in Victory Lane. Busch won 2 of the last 3 races at Richmond. He starts 4th and his pit crew will give him the lead. I will use one of my last allocations with Busch at Richmond.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Kevin Harvick 3) Martin Truex Jr. 4) Brad Keselowski 5) Joey Logano 6) Kyle Larson 7) Chase Elliott
Driver Group Game B Picks
Denny Hamlin (2): I hate to use an allocation with Hamlin this early in the playoffs but the Virginia native is great is my pick to win Saturday night. Hamlin has 3 wins at Richmond and he has a 5th place average finishing position at the track since 2015. The No. 11 car posted the fastest 10-lap, 15-lap, 20-lap and 25-lap average speed in final practice. To say this car is fast is an understatement. Hamlin qualified 6th and should score a lot of Stage points and his way to Victory Lane.
Ryan Newman (6): Newman has been on a roll lately. He has back-to-back top-10 finishes and could easily extend the streak to three races Saturday night. Newman posted the 10th fastest speed in final practice with the 3rd-fastest 10-lap average speed. Whenever Newman has a car this fast we need to use him in the race so we can save our top drivers for other tracks. I feel confident using an allocation with the No. 6 car this week. * I would like to start Clint Bowyer and I only have one allocation with him. I would use the No. 14 over Newman if I had 2 or more.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Denny Hamlin 2) Clint Bowyer 3) Kurt Busch 4) Ryan Newman 5) Ryan Newman 6) Erik Jones 7) Aric Almirola 8) Daniel Suarez 9) Jimmie Johnson 10) William Byron
Driver Group Game C Picks
Matt DiBenedetto (4): DiBenedetto has been good at the tracks where the 750 HP aero package has been used. He ran in the top 5 at New Hampshire and almost won at Bristol. The No. 95 team worked closely with the No. 19 team (Martin Truex Jr.) for their setup in practice. They wanted their car to run well at night. I have a feeling DiBenedetto will post another top-10 finish Saturday night.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Matt DiBenedetto 2) Chris Buescher 3) Daniel Hemric 4) Ty Dillon 5) Bubba Wallace
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Kyle Busch (2)
Group B: Denny Hamlin (2), Ryan Newman (6)
Group C: Matt DiBenedetto (4)
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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Good luck this week!