That was probably one of the most eventful first rounds we’ve seen in a long time, with many names getting caught behind the cutline. Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, and Michael McDowell are all looking at elimination. Many playoff drivers came out of Darlington without a lot of the momentum they headed in with.

Richmond has now become the biggest race of the year for guys like Bowman, Busch, Elliott, and Byron who never expected to be in this situation so soon. If they have bad days at Richmond then it could leave them in a win or you’re out situation at Bristol. The embarrassment for guys like this that have been so good all year only to be cut in the first round would be horrible.

At Richmond, just like Darlington, there are so many ways a driver could get into trouble. Even the most experienced drivers can fall into traps, but it also takes the most experienced drivers to know how to get out of traps.

Favorite: Kyle Busch

Busch has an amazing track record at Richmond and I have no doubt he’ll be able to rectify his poor outing at Darlington. Regardless of a win, I think he knows what he has to do and will give himself the best opportunity for points all day.

I also believe that Kyle Busch is the best driver under scrutiny in the business. His rage fueled fine that he received and the pressure that comes from falling below the cut line I believe will fuel a victory from the 18-team. I never count out a pissed-off Kyle Busch.

Dark Horse: Austin Dillon

An Austin Dillon win I think would come completely out of spite. He’s clearly not happy about not making the playoffs, and he had a great run going at Darlington. I thought that RCR might pour a lot of effort into Reddick’s playoff campaign, but clearly, Dillon isn’t getting left behind.

Coming off a top ten last time here and boasting 4 top tens in his last 6 starts, this is a track Dillon has some potential at. He did enough o make the playoffs, but luck didn’t fall his way, so his motivation to spoil a race his high.

Fantasy:

High-End Picks:

  1. Martin Truex Jr.: $10,200
  2. Kyle Busch: $11,500
  3. Denny Hamlin: $10,400
  4. Kyle Larson: $11,000
  5. Joey Logano: $10,700

Mid-tier Picks:

  1. Austin Dillon: $8,400
  2. Alex Bowman: $8,900
  3. Ryan Blaney: $8,600
  4. Kurt Busch: $7,700
  5. Tyler Reddick: $7,900

Low-End Picks: 

  1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: $6,700
  2. Daniel Suarez: $6,900
  3. Michael McDowell: $6,100
  4. Bubba Wallace: $6,300
  5. Erik Jones: $6,600

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