NASCAR Cup Series: Top Bets for Saturday’s Richmond Toyota Owners 400
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
This weekend at Richmond Raceway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has its first Saturday Night race of the season. Richmond is a track that features limited passing and low did-not-finish (DNF) rates.
The key stats that go into my machine learning model this weekend are starting position, long-run speed in final practice, year-to-date driver rating, and past Richmond quality pass percentage. I’ll also use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best lines!
Kevin Harvick: +500
Harvick (pictured above) mentioned that this is the best car he’s had at Richmond in years, and his 20-lap run in final practice backed up his assertion, as he posted the best time by a wide margin. Harvick has the best quality pass percentage over the past eight Richmond races, and leads all but Kyle Busch in driver rating in 2018.
Denny Hamlin: +900
Hamlin checks most of the boxes for Richmond. He ran the second-best 10-lap average in final practice and starts toward the front of the field with a fourth-place qualifying effort. Hamlin has the sixth-best driver rating this year and is a strong flat-track driver. All of that translates into the highest projected finish in my machine learning model. Per the Sim Scores, five of the 11 drivers most comparable to Hamlin won their races.
Joey Logano: +1200
Believe it or not, Logano has the third-best driver rating and second-best average running position of 2018. Richmond is a fantastic track for him. Last year he finished first and second in the two Richmond races. He has a top-10 finish in each of the past eight Richmond races, including two wins and a second place, and he also has the fourth-best quality pass percentage during that span. Logano projects to have the fourth-highest average finish per the model, and four of his top fifteen comparable drivers were winners.
William Byron: +6600
Byron is an interesting longshot this weekend. He’s performed admirably at short flat tracks in both the Xfinity and Truck series. Despite spending only one full-time season in each of those two series, Byron has four wins at short flat tracks. Earlier this year, he used an off-sequence strategy to lead nearly five percent of the race at Phoenix en route to the second-best Cup Series finish of his young career. He posted the ninth-best 10-lap average in final practice, and he starts ninth. With a bit of luck or strategy, he could wind up in victory lane.