The first race of the playoffs are in the books and now the drivers competing for the championship need to have a good race at Richmond so they do not go into the race at Bristol in a “must win” situation. This race went caution free last year so I do not expect any problems Saturday night. The drivers who raced well at New Hampshire usually run well in this race so I will be using some of that data for my picks this week.
Race Rewind at Richmond: Federated Auto Parts 400 (2019)
Here are my picks for the Federated Auto Parts 400 …
Driver Group Game A Picks
Martin Truex Jr. (Start): It will be tough to keep Martin Truex Jr. out of your lineups Saturday night. He swept the races at Richmond last year and he should be good again this week. Truex finished 1st, 1st and 3rd in his last three races at this track. He also finished 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st and 1st in the last six Stages. Truex should have won last week at Darlington. He is my pick to get to Victory Lane Saturday night.
Brad Keselowski (Bench): Everyone in your league will likely have Martin Truex Jr. as their Group A driver Saturday night. It is hard to gain points on your competition when you have the same drivers as everyone else, so it could be a wise idea to pivot to Brad Keselowski. The most similar track to Richmond is New Hampshire and Keselowski destroyed the field in the race at the Magic Mile in August. Keselowski has a 7th-place average finishing position in his last 12 races at Richmond. That is pretty reliable.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Martin Truex Jr. 2) Denny Hamlin 3) Kyle Busch 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Brad Keselowski 6) Joey Logano 7) Chase Elliott
Driver Group Game B Picks
Erik Jones (Start): You probably think Erik Jones is a horrible pick when you look at the results from last year’s race at Richmond. The stats say he finished 38th but stats can be misleading. Jones finished 4th in the race and he had one of the fastest cars. The problem is that it failed post-race inspection and was credited with a last-place finish. The No. 20 team is racing for their jobs. They will do everything they can to finish up front this week.
Austin Dillon (Start): Austin Dillon is a sneaky good pick for the race at Richmond. Dillon finished 6th in this race in 2018. He returned to Richmond last spring and finished 6th again. He was running in the 8th spot in the night race at Richmond last year when he got a speeding penalty on pit road. That caused the No. 3 car to finish 22nd. Dillon starts 3rd Saturday night so he will have the track position to score a lot of Stage points and finish up front.
Jimmie Johnson (Bench): Jimmie Johnson is the safest pick in Group B. He has finished every race since the spring race of 2014 at Richmond in the top 12. Last year he started 10th, scored Stage points in both Stages and finished 10th. I expect Johnson to finish in the top 10 again Saturday night.
Clint Bowyer (Bench): Clint Bowyer is the best pick in Group B this week but I only have one allocation with the No. 14 car. I am saving it for Martinsville. Bowyer 8th, 3rd, 9th and 10th in his last four races at Richmond. Also long as he is in the playoffs, Stewart-Haas Racing will do everything they can to help Bowyer finish up front. If you have two or more allocations with Bowyer, use him over Erik Jones this week.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Erik Jones 2) Kurt Busch 3) Clint Bowyer 4) Austin Dillon 5) Jimmie Johnson 6) Aric Almirola 7) Ryan Blaney 8) Wiliam Byron 9) Matt DiBenedetto 10) Alex Bowman
Driver Group Game C Picks
Cole Custer (Start): Cole Custer is the only rookie running for the championship. He will have one of the best cars in the Stewart-Haas Racing stable to help him finish up front. Custer had a good run at New Hampshire and that should translate into a good finish at Richmond. Custer started 14th and finished 8th at the Magic Mile. I am hoping for similar success Saturday night.
Tyler Reddick (Bench): Tyler Reddick is always a good pick. He ran almost as well as Cole Custer at New Hampshire. Reddick started 13th and he finished 10th. There is no reason to believe that Reddick will not be one of the best choices in Group C again this week.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Cole Custer 2) Tyler Reddick 3) Christopher Bell 4) Matt Kenseth 5) John H. Nemechek
Driver Group Game Team
Good luck this week!
*Stats from Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Pro
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