Fantasy NASCAR Rankings: Toyota Owners 400

by Brian Polking on April 25, 2014 @ 18:14:27 PDT

 


Kevin Harvick, NASCAR driver
Harvick comfortable at Richmond

Mother Nature has been delaying and postponing races all year for the Cup Series, and she didn't even wait for race day to start causing problems this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Rain showers washed out Friday's qualifying session, and as a result, the starting lineup was determined by speeds from the afternoon's first practice. With the threat of rain, several drivers did get a mock qualifying run in during the first session. However, a few big names were burned by the rain and will start deep in the field, including drivers who ran well in race trim, like Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.

With rain throwing a wrench in things to a degree, fantasy owners are left with some difficult choices. Do you trust the traditional Richmond studs if they are starting near the back, or do you gamble on some sleeper picks that grabbed great starting spots in part because qualifying got rained out? My preferred strategy is somewhere in between. I'm not going to write off a driver that ran well in race trim and has a history of success at RIR just because they are starting toward the rear. On the flip side, I will definitely try to take advantage of a sleeper pick or two if they are starting closer to the front than they normally would under typical circumstances. With that in mind, let's jump into the final rankings for Saturday's Toyota Owners 400.

The top 3

1) Kevin Harvick

He is the defending race winner, and Harvick looks more than ready to contend for a fourth win at Richmond. He was in or near the top five on short runs and long runs in both practices Friday, and he will start fifth based on his practice times. Harvick topped the rankings to open the week, and he still looks like the No. 1 fantasy option heading into Saturday's race.

2) Kyle Busch

Qualifying getting rained out will force Busch to start 19th Saturday, but after logging the second-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour, the four-time Richmond winner should have little trouble adding to his impressive resume at the track. He enters Saturday's race with a series-leading 7.2 average finish at the track. In 18 starts, he has 12 top-five finishes, including eight top-two finishes.

3) Clint Bowyer

Bowyer jumps into the No. 3 spot in the final rankings after a strong showing throughout Friday's practices. Not only will he start third after turning the third-fastest lap in the opening practice session, but he cracked the top-10 in terms of 10-lap average speeds in both practices. Bowyer has also been rock solid at Richmond throughout his career, logging 13 top-12 finishes in 16 starts, winning in the fall of 2012 and finishing second last spring.

Value picks

12) Kyle Larson

He will be making his first start at Richmond in the Cup Series this weekend, but a lack of experience hasn't slowed down Larson at all this season and it hasn't been holding him back this weekend. The rookie will start on the pole after topping the charts in the opening practice, and he also cracked the top 10 in Happy Hour. Meanwhile, Larson has four top-10s in the last five races, and he appears to be on track for another great run Saturday.

13) Ryan Newman

Newman will start 18th based on his speed from Friday's first practice, but after he paced the field in Happy Hour, it is clear that his car has some muscle. He has also been reliable at Richmond, notching nine top-15s in the last 10 races at the track, including five straight. Newman should have no trouble challenging for a top-10 this weekend.

17) Brian Vickers

He has actually missed three of the last seven races at Richmond as he has bounced between several rides, but he has looked pretty good on the stopwatch so far this weekend. Vickers cracked the top 15 in both practices Friday, and he will start sixth based on his speed from first practice. He also logged the 12th-best average speed in Happy Hour. Vickers could easily deliver a top-15 for fantasy owners this weekend.

Sleeper special

23) Marcos Ambrose

His record at Richmond hasn't been great in recent years, but Ambrose has been enjoying a very solid 2014 season so far. More importantly, he has been excellent at the short tracks, notching top-five finishes at Bristol and Martinsville. Ambrose will roll off 11th Saturday based on his speed from Friday's first practice, and while a top-five may be asking a bit much, he could be a sneaky top-15 pick.

Big names outside the top 10

14) Kurt Busch

Busch has been up and down all season, and although he had a great year at Richmond in 2013, he struggled during both of Friday's practices. In fact, he ranked outside the top 20 in both sessions. Busch was a little better on longer runs, but a top-15 finish appears to be his ceiling this weekend.

20) Greg Biffle

With only one top-10 in his last 14 starts at Richmond, Biffle wasn't a premier fantasy option this weekend anyway. However, he was off the pace, even by his standards. Biffle ranked 24th and 26th in the two practices Friday, and as a result, he will have a terrible starting spot on top of a mediocre car. Fantasy owners should probably avoid Biffle if possible.

Overall rankings

Rk
Driver
Car
Make Sponsor Team
Pos
1
Kevin Harvick
4
Chevrolet Budweiser Stewart-Haas Racing
5
2
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
19
3
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
3
4
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
25
5
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Fastenal Roush Fenway Racing
16
6
Matt Kenseth
20
Toyota Dollar General Joe Gibbs Racing
12
7
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
28
8
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew Hendrick Motorsports
13
9
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
10
10
Brad Keselowski
2
Ford Miller Lite Team Penske
2
11
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
4
12
Kyle Larson
42
Chevrolet Target Chip Ganassi Racing
1
13
Ryan Newman
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
18
14
Kurt Busch
41
Chevrolet Haas Automation Stewart-Haas Racing
21
15
Joey Logano
22
Ford Shell/Pennzoil Team Penske
17
16
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Stewart-Haas Racing
20
17
Brian Vickers
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
6
18
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet McDonald's Chip Ganassi Racing
7
19
A.J. Allmendinger
47
Toyota Clorox JTG Daugherty Racing
14
20
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
26
21
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
9
22
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Smithfield Richard Petty Motorsports
15
23
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
11
24
Austin Dillon
3
Chevrolet Dow Energy Richard Childress Racing
27
25
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
29
26
Martin Truex Jr.
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
22
27
Ryan Truex
83
Toyota Borla Exhaust BK Racing
8
28
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
34
29
Justin Allgaier
51
Chevrolet Brandt HScott Motorsports
31
30
Michael Annett
7
Chevrolet Pilot Flying J Tommy Baldwin Racing
23
31
David Gilliland
38
Ford Love's Travel Stops Front Row Motorsports
33
32
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet GoDaddy.com Stewart-Haas Racing
35
33
David Ragan
34
Ford Taco Bell Front Row Motorsports
37
34
Reed Sorenson
36
Chevrolet Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing
36
35
Alex Bowman
23
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
24
36
David Reutimann
35
Ford MDS Transport Ford Front Row Motorsports
30
37
Travis Kvapil
32
Ford C&J Energy Go FAS Racing
32
38
David Stremme
33
Chevrolet Little Joe's Auto Circle Sport
38
39
Landon Cassill
40
Chevrolet CRC Brakleen Hillman Racing
43
40
J.J. Yeley
30
Chevrolet Phoenix Warehouse Xxxtreme Motorsport
42
41
Josh Wise
98
Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing Phil Parsons Racing
39
42
Cole Whitt
26
Toyota Scorpyd BK Racing
40
43
Joe Nemechek
66
Toyota Motorcraft Robinson Racing Team
41

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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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