Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview: Federated Auto Parts 400

by Eric McClung on September 4, 2013 @ 17:01:40 PDT


Among the most popular venues with both drivers and fans, Richmond International Raceway is a short, flat track with tight quarters that can lead to aggressive driving. The track allows for side-by-side racing and numerous passing opportunities. As it is with most flat tracks, brakes are among the most important pieces of equipment to monitor at Richmond.

Although much different in configuration, the three other flat tracks (Phoenix International Raceway, Martinsville Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway) require many of the same skills to get around successfully. Fantasy managers would be wise to review the results from both Phoenix and Martinsville, which have already held their first events of the season. All four tracks host two races a piece, making this a key group of tracks when it comes to putting together a successful fantasy campaign.

Practice sessions: Friday, Sep. 6 at 12:10 p.m. EDT, 2:45 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, Sep. 6 at 5:35 p.m. EDT
Race: Saturday, Sep. 7 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Henrico County, Va.
Shape: D-shaped oval
Length: 0.75 mile
Laps: 400
Turns: 14 degrees
Front stretch: 8 degrees
Back stretch: 2 degrees

Drivers to keep an eye on

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch
Get Rowdy

Clint Bowyer | No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Bowyer averaged 49 laps led in the last two races of the season but couldn't convert either one into a top-10 finish. He ran out of fuel on the last lap at Bristol Motor Speedway and blew an engine last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bowyer remains second in points but doesn't have a win to help him in the postseason reseeding. He returns to Richmond as the only driver with an active streak of three consecutive top-10s. Bowyer has been particularly sharp the last two RIR races, winning last fall with 88 laps led and was the runner-up in April with 113 laps led.

Kevin Harvick | No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Among all active drivers, Harvick's career average running position of 7.6 at RIR ranks second. He's won two of the last four races at the site with more than 90 percent of his laps spent running in the top 15 all four times. Harvick has been sharp in two of the last three starts this season, finishing as the runner-up at Michigan International Speedway and adding another top-10 last week at Atlanta.

Kyle Busch | No. 18 M&M's American Heritage Chocolate Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Busch won four races in a span of seven races from 2009-2012 at RIR. During that time, he finished no worse than sixth. The No. 18 team was burned by pit strategy last fall, however, and was caught in a crash last April after pacing 40 laps. Rowdy owns four wins this year and could match a series-high five checkered flags by avoiding misfortune this time around.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. | No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Over the last six starts, Earnhardt has recorded four top-10 finishes while solidifying this spot in the Chase. He's notched three consecutive finishes inside the top 15 at Richmond and won the pole last fall. Earnhardt is another postseason racer that doesn't have a win. RIR is a big opportunity to go for it all and improve seeding.

Martin Truex Jr. | No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Truex has recorded an average running position of 15th or better in four of the last five RIR races but was unable to score a top-15 finish. Last week he finished third at Atlanta despite racing with a broken wrist. Truex now needs to overcome his history of underperformance at RIR to put the finishing touches on his second straight trip to the postseason.

Juan Pablo Montoya | No. 42 Target Chevrolet | Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

Montoya has held an average running position of 13th or better in three of the last four RIR races. Earlier this season, he finished a career-best fourth at the site after leading 67 laps. JPM has now finished 11th or better in five of his last six starts. Montoya isn't driving to make the Chase but is making a case to remain in the Cup series, following the announcement he'll be replaced at EGR at the end of the season.

Denny Hamlin | No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Hamlin easily leads all active drivers with a career average running position of 5.9 at RIR. Last year he held an average running position of third and led a race-high 202 laps but had to pit late for fuel. That ended a streak of six consecutive finishes of 11th or better for Hamlin that included a pair of wins and four top-fives. Hamlin was unable to compete at RIR earlier in the season due to a back injury but is worth a gamble, if the price is right.

A.J. Allmendinger | No. 47 Bush's Beans Toyota | JTG Daugherty Racing

Allmendinger is the bottom-tier driver of choice at RIR thanks to six straight finishes of 17th or better in three different rides. He'll be driving the No. 47 car for the first time in the River City but has piloted the machine four times this season. He's finished inside the top 25 in those starts and is coming off a 14th-place performance at Atlanta.

Temper your expectations

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Scotchgard Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Among all active drivers, Biffle's career average running position of 17.7 at RIR is good for only 19th. Since 2007, he's only managed a single top-10 in 13 starts. Earlier this season he finished 36th after qualifying back in 33rd.

Jeff Gordon | No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Even though Gordon has recorded a pair of top-fives in the last six RIR races, he's only spent more than 45 percent of his laps running in the top 15 twice despite some very good qualifying results. Gordon has dialed back the clock a bit lately with a seventh at Bristol and a sixth at Atlanta. A victory gets him into the Chase automatically, but he's been something of an overachiever at RIR lately.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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