When drivers line up Sunday for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, they’ll be doing so in a sport that’s in a different place than it was the last time they competed.
With Dale Earnhadt Jr. announcing he’ll retire after the 2017 season, it’s fair to wonder if NASCAR will ever be the same. The remaining races on this year’s schedule, not to mention next season’s, are going to feel a whole lot different.
From a fantasy perspective, however, things aren’t changing much.
Earnhardt has been pretty underwhelming this season, especially for fantasy owners. Similarly, many veteran Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have been woefully inconsistent, as young drivers such as Kyle Larson have moved to the forefront. With so much change in the air, setting your fantasy lineups can be difficult. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
You might have a budget, or you might have a limit to the amount of times you can pick a given racer. Whatever your league’s format, we’ve got you covered in determining which drivers to give seats to Sunday, and which ones to stay away from.
Must pick: Brad Keselowski
An argument could be made her for Kyle Busch, who has four victories at Richmond. Our money, though, is on Brad Keselowski. His win at this track in the fall of 2014 still is one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen, as he led a staggering 383 of 400 laps.
Including that race, Keselowski has finished in the top four at Richmond three times over the last three years, and consistently is one of the top performers at the track. Make sure he’s in your lineups Sunday.
Stay away: Jimmie Johnson
This might seem surprising, as Jimmie Johnson is coming off a victory Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway, his second win a row. However, Johnson hasn’t won at Richmond since 2008, despite usually being around the top 10. If you’re in a league that puts a limit on how many times you can start a driver, consider looking elsewhere this weekend.
Sleeper pick: Kurt Busch
Since winning the Daytona 500, Kurt Busch — and Stewart-Haas Racing — has not performed up to expectations. All that could change on Sunday. Since joining SHR in 2013, Busch has five consecutive top-15 finishes at Richmond, including a victory in the 2015 Toyota Owners 400. If there ever were a week to start Busch, this is it.
Value pick: Daniel Suarez
Although Daniel Suarez is a rookie, he, like other Cup rookie drivers, hasn’t raced like it. Sure, his performances have been up and down, but he generally can be relied upon to finish in the top 20, which is all you really need from a value pick. Furthermore, Suarez won last season’s Xfinity Series spring race at Richmond, and drove the same car he’ll be using Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via Michael Shroyer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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