Stewart-Haas Racingâs Kevin Harvick will start from the Busch Pole in Saturday nightâs Toyota Owners 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Does the three-time Richmond winner merit a spot in your lineup? Weâve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration.
Remember that the garage locks at the end of Stage 2. Once the final stage starts, your roster is locked in. There will be a competition caution at Lap 40.
RJ Kraftâs Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Richmond:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kurt Busch
5. Brad Keselowski
Garage: Kyle Larson
Analysis: Letâs start with whoâs staying in my lineup with inspection complete. Kyle Busch won both races here last year and had the best 10-lap time. Despite no victories here, Truex has a history of running well at Richmond. Harvick won the pole and has seven top fives in his last nine Richmond starts. The No. 4 car was second on the 10-lap board and this team seems to be dialed in on speed after a few uncharacteristic weeks. The biggest bugaboo for Kurt Busch this season has been qualifying. He entered Richmond with a 20.1 average start and just one top-10 start in eight races in 2019. That changes at Richmond where he will start third and should be in position to improve greatly on his lack of stage points in 2019 â with only 20 on the season. He grabbed 15 stage points in this race last year starting sixth.
Initially, I was set to have Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez in my lineup but inspection failures have derailed that plan. Iâm really bummed about the Suarez aspect of that given that I hadnât used him yet and he was on a strong roll entering this race â this seemed like a great spot to plug him in. Keselowski jumps into one of the open spots for me as I have one more use on him than Joey Logano. Given Team Penskeâs power on the short tracks this season â theyâve led 795 of 1,000 laps â itâs advisable to have one in the lineup. I was willing to risk not doing it before to save a use, but with some of my choices having inspection woes, the 2012 champion is the driver I feel most comfortable with as a starter.
Iâm sticking with a similar strategy as I planned with the garage except instead of Suarez that spot now goes to Kyle Larson. I know what youâre thinking â RJ, you said on the podcast you wanted to see it. That is true, but with all the inspection failures, he will line up 10th and I like the odds of him grabbing some stage points. He has the third-most points in the past four Richmond races and led the lone practice. To be clear, this is a bit of a boom or bust play. I did consider Chris Buescher, who lines up seventh and had the third-best 10-lap average. Heâs a sneaky play that is only owned by two percent of players (as of 3:30 p.m. ET). The potential to grab points others might not is really tempting but I am going to gamble on Larson. Iâve used the Ganassi driver once, so he is my âout.â Potentially itâs a wasted use if the 42 camp gets it turned around (and I think they will) but given how he has run so far this year (just two top 10s), I am willing to take the risk knowing that if my top five are running better, he stays in the garage.Â Denny Hamlin was also in the mix for one of these spots but lost consideration when he too, failed inspection.
For stage wins, Iâm taking Harvick in Stage 1 and 2 with Kyle Busch and Toyota for the race and manufacturer win.
Each week in this space, weâll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.
1. O/U Hendrick Motorsports has 1.5 drivers finish in the top 10.Â I initially was dead set on the over with my thinking being based on where they qualified Elliott and Jimmie Johnson would get it done. Now, though, I have shifted to the under following the inspection failures of the Nos. 9 and 48 that saw their times disallowed. I think they can get one of those two in the top 10 but I donât like the odds of two cars doing it with those two at the back of the field to start and just one top 10 combined this season between William Byron and Alex Bowman through the first eight races.
2. O/U Martin Truex Jr. scores 10.5 stage points at Richmond. Iâm taking the over here as well. Iâm bullish on Truex turning it around this weekend. Heâs hit the over in two of the past four Richmond races â on the opposite side those were both in the fall race. Heâs starting fifth, so if he maintains that spot in both stages he will hit the over and I think thereâs a strong chance he places higher in one of the two stages to improve the odds.