NASCAR is turning right back around after possibly the best race of the year and heading to another short track. Richmond will host the Cup and Truck series this weekend and hopefully, we carry the same kind of energy from Martinsville over, because this has the potential to be the best stretch of races this season as Talladega follows after this. With us coming off of both Bristol and Martinsville we have a decent idea of who has their short track game rolling so far this year.
We only visited Richmond once last season, but this is the first of two trips in 2021. Last year in the first round of the playoffs Brad Keselowski won the race and was able to secure his way into the second round of the playoffs. I expect that the guys we saw running near the front last year will be the same guys we see at the front on Sunday. Most of those same names ran well at both Bristol and Martinsville.
Favorite: Chase Elliott
This year Elliott has slowly been regaining his speed from last season, but we saw some of it start to return last week at Martinsville with a second-place finish. Elliott always seems to play coy at the beginning of the season and turn up the heat as the year goes on, so this isn’t totally surprising.
With his 2nd place finish last week and 10th place finish at Bristol, I think that they have their short track car tuned right. Last year he finished 5th at Richmond and has an average finish of 12th here. Elliott’s breakthrough win for 2021 feels like it’s right around the corner with his team getting better each week.
Dark Horse: Tyler Reddick
Will 2021 be the year Reddick gets his first win? I think Reddick has really helped to improve Richard Childress Racing’s program overall and has been able to get the most out of his car at unexpected times in the last year. With him being an above-average short track racer, I think this has the potential to be his first win.
Reddick has finished 13th at Bristol, 8th at Martinsville, and 11th here last year. Rolling off 13th will give him a solid starting position and I think he along with his teammate Austin Dillon have opportunities for top tens.
- Chase Elliott – $9,700
- Joey Logano – $10,600
- Martin Truex Jr. – $11,400
- Brad Keselowski – $12,000
- Denny Hamlin – $11,000
- William Byron – $8,500
- Tyler Reddick – $7,200
- Austin Dillon – $7,500
- Christopher Bell – $7,800
- Kurt Busch – $8,300
- Chris Buescher – $6,100
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – $6,200
- Ross Chastain – $6,000
- Daniel Suarez – $6,600
- Ryan Preece – $5,600
Brad Keselowski is the previous winner here, and is the most expensive driver to get on your roster. Kes is going to have a good day, but he has been inconsistent this year, especially the last two races. He’s elite here and is a solid play, but might be a little expensive for how his luck has gone this year.
I think that Logano and Elliott are the best choice for winners in this race, as both have great momentum and track records coming to Richmond. Each of them comes in as underdogs compared to the favorites in Keselowski, Truex, and Hamlin, which presents an interesting lineup pairing.
Try to steer clear of SHR drivers for the time being. Their short track program is looking horrible early on and I’m not comfortable playing any of them. Keep and eye on Richard Childress Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing drivers as surprise picks.
William Byron is an intriguing pick because he has seemed to improve his performance on short tracks and his team is starting to pick up the pace overall. I think he has a shot at being a shock winner considering he’s still under the radar despite winning a race already in 2021.
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