The second leg of the first round of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs goes down Saturday evening at Richmond in the Federated Auto Parts 400. With the field set and salaries in toe, let’s break down the top NASCAR DFS plays for this 400-lap race on DraftKings and FanDuel.
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Roster Construction Guidelines
With the aforementioned 400 laps, there will be lots of dominator points to go around. There will not be nearly as much as next week at Bristol, but we’re still talking about 280 combined dominator points on DraftKings and 40 laps led points on FanDuel. Because of this glut of points, you need at minimum two potential dominators on either site. You can probably leave that number static on FanDuel, but we could see a scenario where a third dominator becomes optimal.
On DraftKings, you’ll still probably just want three dominators for cash games. However, in tournaments, that number should surely move up to three. The Richmond races we’ve seen with at least four drivers leading 10% or more of the race have only seen that fourth driver lead 45.8 laps on average. While that is at least 10 extra points, it probably won’t be worth rostering that driver when considering FPPK.
Related NASCAR DFS Content
- The Awesemo YouTube Channel – Weekly NASCAR DFS Strategy Show
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- NASCAR Projections for DraftKings and FanDuel (PREMIUM)
Kevin Harvick Gets His Own Section
When Kevin Harvick starts in the catbird seat, it’s worth hashing out his prospects in a full section and not just a paragraph. By virtue of his win at Darlington, Harvick starts P1 and should have the best prospect of being an early lap leader. Oddly enough, despite eight wins, this is only the fourth time that Harvick will start on the pole. In those three previous races, Harvick has led a total of 15 laps. Granted, two of those races were at Daytona, the road course and the oval.
In that same line of thought, Harvick has sat on the pole recently at Richmond with lacking results. Since 2016, Harvick has been the pole sitter three times and that has resulted in laps led totals of 63, 40 and 30. He did manage to finish in the top five in all three of those races, yet he failed to really meet the criteria we needed as a dominator. Somehow, over the last four years at Richmond, Harvick has managed to be the worst pole sitter in terms of dominator points scored.
“That’s all fine and dandy,” you say. What about his prospects for Saturday night? To be honest, I think fading Harvick might be the best option. The reason I failed to write up Harvick last week was just how non-existent Harvick has been in night races. Yes, he ultimately won, but he was by no means the best car at Darlington. His victory was 100% right place at the right time. While the package changes, I don’t think his prospects do as a dominator. Harvick could very well steal another win. Yet that might not result in him being anywhere close to a value at his salary.
Other Potential Dominators
So, if we’re not playing Harvick, who should be in our lineups? For me, this list is short and it boils down to five drivers.
- Joey Logano, 2nd
- Denny Hamlin, 7th
- Brad Keselowski, 9th
- Chase Elliott, 12th
- Martin Truex Jr., 14th
Save for the spring 2014 race (Jeff Gordon, 25th) and the spring 2017 race (Keselowski, 15th), we don’t see our dominators come from outside of the first five or six rows. Technically, Truex doesn’t fit that criterion. But it’s impossible to ignore a driver who’s won the last 2 races here and has led over 100 laps in 5 straight Richmond races. Regardless, when you consider trends we know that is the range we need to look for lap leaders. Thanks to the new starting grid formula, they all just happen to be bunched up together.
My top pick from this group is going to be a tie between Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Our corollary tracks for Richmond are Phoenix and New Hampshire based on the tire that Goodyear is running as well as overall shape and banking. Logano is our most recent winner at Phoenix and finished fourth at Loudon. Meanwhile, Keselowski has been the best dominator in those two races, averaging 42 fastest laps and 133 laps led.
Place Differential Options
Perhaps the toughest issue for this week isn’t dominators but how you fill out the rest of your lineups. Because of the way the starting grid fell, there aren’t any real anomalies or drivers standing out as must-plays. In tournaments, we have a few drivers starting in the top 16 who might sneak away with a top 10. Or they could just as easily finish where they started.
In cash, we have a gaggle of drivers who could pick up 5-9 spots, while 10 or more seems pretty unlikely. In fact, I have 10 drivers highlighted as cash game plays all the way from Jimmie Johnson starting 18th to John Hunter Nemechek in 31st. To see that full list, just head to the Awesemo NASCAR Slack chat channel and look for the race sheets.
For tournament lineups, my favorite play is going to be Clint Bowyer at $10,500 on FanDuel and $8,300 on DraftKings. Starting 11th, Bowyer finds himself in that typical dead zone, and his salary is lowish but not a value by any means. As per Richmond, Bowyer has been good the past two years with no finish worse than 10th. However, what stands out to me is that Bowyer will have a fill-in crew chief this week and next.
In his pit box will be veteran Greg Zipadelli, the man behind much of Tony Stewart’s success. Zipadelli filled this same role for Chase Briscoe in the Xfinity Series and helped lead him to victory. While I’m not predicting victory for Bowyer, perhaps having Zipadelli in his ear could help propel Bowyer to a top five. Zipadelli is great at playing strategy, and that’s exactly what Bowyer will need to help improve his playoff chances.
Others; Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto
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