Fantasy NASCAR Sleepers and Busts: Toyota Owners 400

by Eric McClung on April 23, 2014 @ 07:15:42 PDT


Joey Logano, NASCAR
Just say LogaNO?

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, April 25 at 10 a.m. EDT, 1 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, April 25 at 5:15 p.m. EDT
Race: Saturday, April 26 at 7 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


Ryan Newman | No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Newman's career average running position of 11.7 ranks fifth among all active drivers at Richmond. In 24 career starts, he's never suffered a DNF and has only placed outside of the top 20 twice. Since that last occurred in the fall of 2008, Newman has compiled seven finishes of 11th or better in 10 starts. Despite qualifying 24th last fall, Newman rallied to finish third to match his best run since winning at RIR back in 2003.

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

From the fall of 2008 through the spring of 2012, Hamlin registered a pair of wins at Richmond and five finishes of fourth or better in eight chances. However, his value right now could be in flux. Despite pacing 202 of 400 laps in the 2012 fall event, Hamlin got shuffled back to finish 18th, needing to pit late in the race for fuel.

Last fall, Hamlin could never make a push forward after getting stuck mid-pack and finished outside of the top 20 for just the second time in his career at RIR. While Hamlin has only managed an average finish of 17th over the last three races of the season, he's has held an average running positions of 12th, seven and ninth during that time, respectively.

Paul Menard | No. 27 Certain Teed/ Menards Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

In his first 10 starts at Richmond, Menard only managed one top-25 finish. Over the last two years, he's scored three results of 13th or better in four races; highlighted by a career-best fifth last fall. Perhaps most impressive is that Menard has made improvements despite failing to qualify in the top 20. After recording three straight top-10s earlier in the season and climbing up to 10th in points, Menard hit the wall at Darlington Raceway because of a cut tire and finished in 41st.

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

Over his last six starts at Richmond, Allmendinger has finished 16th or better each time out while bouncing around four different race teams. Allmendinger finished 15th last fall with JTG Daugherty despite only spending 20 percent of the race running in the top 15; although he had to overcome starting from the 34th spot. Over his last four starts of the season, the Dinger has scored three top-15s and will be in contention for a similar result this week.


Joey Logano | No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford | Team Penske

We are eight races into the season and Logano has recorded a top-five finish in half of them, including a win at Texas Motor Speedway. However, he's also finished outside of the top 30 twice. At Richmond, he's missed the top 20 in four of the last five races but did finish a career-best third a year ago. All told, Logano's career average running position of 18.8 at RIR is only good for 18th among all active drivers.

Brian Vickers | No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Vickers has been a fine middle-tier selection for many races so far this season, but Richmond hasn't always been kind to him. He filled in for Denny Hamlin last spring and was running well until a late crash. Vickers returned in the fall with MWR and placed 24th. Vickers had a handful of good runs at RIR in his Red Bull Racing days but needs to prove in practice before you give him the green light.

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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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