NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Saturday’s Richmond Toyota Owners 400
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Saturday's Toyota Owners 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Richmond Raceway.
The NCAA Tournament is over, but Saturday is shaping up to be a sneaky good sports day. Of course, the Masters will dominate the weekend, but don’t forget about the start of the NBA playoffs and a Saturday night race at one of NASCAR’s most exciting tracks: Richmond Raceway.
Yes, you read that right.
This weekend’s race is at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (instead of Sunday), meaning you can transition straight from your Masters sweat right into NASCAR action, short-track style.
Even if you’re not ready to bet on NASCAR, playing NASCAR.com’s Props Challenge game is a great way to have some skin in the game on Saturday night.
So, without further ado, here are my props picks for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
1. Which Stewart Haas Racing driver finishes higher at Richmond? Clint Bowyer or Aric Almirola?
Last season at Richmond, Bowyer had a better average finish, led more laps and ran more fast laps than Almirola.
I still think this will be very close, but the data says Clint is the play.
2. Over/under 1.5 drivers lead over 90 laps at Richmond?
Both races at Richmond in 2018 finished with two or more drivers eclipsing 90 laps led, so let’s play the over.
Answer: Over 1.5
3. There has been an average of 15.8 lead changes in the past four races at Richmond. O/U 15.5 lead changes on Saturday night?
The 13 lead changes during the Fall race in 2017 pulls down that average a bit, as five of the past six Richmond races finished with at least 16 lead changes.
Answer: Over 15.5
4. Does Joe Gibbs Racing win their sixth race of the season at Richmond?
This question basically boils down to Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin vs. the field. I know, I’m leaving Joe Gibbs Racing’s fourth driver, Erik Jones, off that list, but that’s because he simply hasn’t shown an ability to consistently run up front and contend for wins.
Busch is the race favorite at +200, as he should be, but I just can’t take three drivers over the entire field — especially when the field includes all drivers from Team Penkse and Stewart-Haas Racing.
5. Which Chevrolet driver will finish higher: Chase Elliott or Kyle Larson?
Elliott bested Larson in average finish, average running position, laps led and fast laps here last season. Similar to question No. 1, this will be close, but let’s lean on the data.
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6. O/U Martin Truex Jr. scores 10.5 stage points at Richmond?
Across both races at Richmond last season, an average of 2.5 drivers scored more than 10 stage points in each event. I like Truex plenty this weekend, but I’m not going to expect him to score at least 11 stage points.
7. Denny Hamlin has an average finish of 5.7 the last six races at his home track. Does he finish in the top five this weekend?
According to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, Hamlin (+1000) has the sixth-best odds to win Saturday’s race. Should he put together a clean race, Hamlin should contend for a top five.
But as always, I have a hard time expecting that to happen, especially with a driver prone to pit road speeding penalties that are usually killers at short tracks like Richmond.
8. O/U Hendrick Motorsports has 1.5 drivers finish in the top 10?
Chase Elliott is Hendrick’s best shot at a top 10, so the key question here is which other driver can join him? Jimmie Johnson’s average finish of 7.0 at Richmond last season provides hope that he can finish among the top 10, but his 2018 numbers are deceiving.
Despite the seventh-place average finish, Johnson’s average running position was 15.0, ranking just 14th. In my mind, it’s more likely that Jimmie finishes 11th or worse than inside the top 10, and even if he does score a top-10 finish, there are no guarantees that another Hendrick driver gets there as well.
Answer: Under 1.5
9. From 2015-2017, each Richmond race winner started inside the top five. Will this week’s winner start inside the top five?
Since 2010, 10 of 18 race winners at Richmond started inside the top five. Track position clearly matters here when it comes to finishing up front, so I’ll take the “yes.”
10. Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with 23 top 10 finishes at Richmond. Does he add another to his resume this weekend?
Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick has seven top-10 finishes in 10 races at Richmond.