Toyota Owners 400 DFS Gems

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Dan Beaver
·7 min read
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Martinsville Speedway is a rhythm courses. At the front of the pack, there are rarely any major amazements, so it should come as no surprise that the top performers in the Blue-Emu 500 were almost exclusively from the $10k or greater club.

Denny Hamlin scored 145.45 points with a cap of $10,400, which was almost double the points of anyone else in the field. Ryan Blaney (77.3), Martin Truex Jr. (74.45), Kyle Larson (62.45), and Chase Elliott (53.55) were also among top six. All of them were expensive enough to require only one could be on your team without making some drastic choices in the cheapest level.

Christopher Bell (61.55) was the outlier, earning the fifth-most points with a cap of $8,400.


Last fall in the Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond was slightly more egalitarian. Brad Keselowski earned the most points (124) with a cap of $10,100, but second-place Austin Dillon (80.75) was well below the average cost per driver with a cap of $7,900.

Richmond is a drivers’ track and that suggests some other dark horses could emerge. We have our eye on a few of them.

Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Denny Hamlin ($11,000)
We will admit to being a little skittish in regard to Hamlin on the short, flat tracks at the start of this year after a mediocre effort in 2020. On minimally-banked courses 1-mile or less in length, he scored only two top-10s and had an average finish of 12.17. That was a shock because he was perfect in regard to top-fives in 2019. We are beginning to accept that last year was an aberration because he earned third-place finishes at both Phoenix Raceway and Martinsville. Quality is always expensive, but it is hard to build a roster after plucking down $11K on your first driver.

Kyle Larson ($10,300)
If you want to save $700, Larson could be a very compelling choice. He returned to the cockpit of a car with a vengeance after missing most of last year. He is determined to silence any remaining critics with a heavy right foot. He has the equipment to help him in his quest. In our estimation, Larson is the best Hendrick Motorsports driver at the moment and that organization is capable of winning on any track.

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,000)

Chase Elliott ($9,700)
It is too soon to tell if Elliott turned a corner last week at Martinsville. He may have had the strongest car in the closing laps of the Blue-Emu 500, but passing on the paperclip is difficult. It took too long for Elliott to get around Hamlin in the closing laps and he did not have the time to catch Truex. The No. 9 team has been erratic in 2021, but the two places where they have run best are Martinsville and Phoenix Raceway. Both are short, flat tracks. It is easier to pass at Richmond.

Austin Cindric ($8,600)
Cindric has Team Penske power under his hood and teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have shown how successful that can be at Richmond. On the other hand, Ryan Blaney has never scored a top-15 on this course and it is likely that Cindric will fall in that category. Starting last, the DraftKings cap manager is obviously counting on Cindric earning a lot of place-differential points. The real question is: Will it be enough.

Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,500)

Tyler Reddick ($7,200)
There is a lot of upside to starting Reddick this week. He gained a lot of confidence with his seventh-place finish on the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track and it paid off last week with a second consecutive top-10 at Martinsville. He finished 11th in last fall’s Federated Auto Parts 400, which showcases his skill on another short, flat track. In Week 3 of this season, he almost upset the field at Homestead with a top-five finish. It seems he is coming into his own.

Christopher Bell ($7,800)
Bell has been a little uneven this year with as many results outside the top 15 as inside the top 10. But he is learning how to perform in more powerful equipment than he has had in the past. Last week’s Martinsville race tipped the scale in his favor. A seventh-place finish there and a ninth at Phoenix suggests he is going to perform well on minimally-banked courses, so it is well worth the risk of taking him at Richmond. After all, you have to make room for those expensive drivers at the top.

Group D: (Less than or equal to $6,500)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,200)
Stenhouse earned 46.5 points last fall, which made him the ninth-most productive driver in the race. That would not matter to us if his cap were higher because it is unlikely that lightning will strike twice – but he is one of the cheapest options in the field other than drivers likely to get lapped early and often. There is another reason to highly regard Stenhouse: The short, flat tracks reward drivers who can be aggressive at the right time. Stenhouse can misjudge on occasion and it has gotten him into trouble in the past. This week, it will keep him in contact with the lead lap.

Chris Buescher ($6,100)
Our second pick in the bargain bin this week goes to one of the drivers with the most average points per thousand over the last 45 day. Buescher has a car capable of finishing in the top 15 even if Roush Fenway Racing is still struggling a bit. Now that teammate Ryan Newman is healthy and acclimated to the new team, he is able to mentor the young Texan. As the season progresses, Buescher will steadily improve and his salary cap will increase. Now is the time to strike.

The top-10 points’ earners from last fall were: Brad Keselowski (124), Austin Dillon (80.75), Kevin Harvick (65.75), Joey Logano (64.75), Martin Truex Jr. (59.5), Chase Elliott (52), Kyle Busch (47), Denny Hamlin (46.75), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (46.5), and Tyler Reddick (46).

Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group

Kyle Larson

10.20

361.10

72.22

$10,300

35.06

A

Denny Hamlin

4.00

372.95

74.59

$11,000

33.90

A

Joey Logano

10.20

275.15

55.03

$10,600

25.96

A

Martin Truex Jr.

7.20

292.35

58.47

$11,400

25.64

A

Kyle Busch

16.20

173.65

34.73

$10,000

17.37

A

Brad Keselowski

18.80

139.25

27.85

$12,000

11.60

A

Ryan Blaney

5.80

298.35

59.67

$9,100

32.79

B

William Byron

8.80

231.70

46.34

$8,500

27.26

B

Matt DiBenedetto

11.60

189.25

37.85

$8,000

23.66

B

Chase Elliott

15.00

160.70

32.14

$9,700

16.57

B

Kevin Harvick

17.40

154.75

30.95

$9,400

16.46

B

Alex Bowman

23.00

108.40

21.68

$8,800

12.32

B

Aric Almirola

23.60

92.80

18.56

$8,200

11.32

B

Kurt Busch

23.40

77.10

15.42

$8,300

9.29

B

Austin Cindric

12.00

37.45

37.45

$8,600

4.35

B

Daniel Suarez

16.60

161.55

32.31

$6,600

24.48

C

Austin Dillon

17.40

149.90

29.98

$7,500

19.99

C

Tyler Reddick

17.40

143.75

28.75

$7,200

19.97

C

Ryan Newman

19.20

134.60

26.92

$7,000

19.23

C

Christopher Bell

19.20

144.80

28.96

$7,800

18.56

C

Erik Jones

19.60

138.50

27.70

$7,600

18.22

C

Bubba Wallace

19.00

128.40

25.68

$7,300

17.59

C

Cole Custer

24.00

99.70

19.94

$6,800

14.66

C

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

14.80

177.55

35.51

$6,200

28.64

D

Chris Buescher

15.40

168.75

33.75

$6,100

27.66

D

Ross Chastain

20.20

105.80

21.16

$6,000

17.63

D

Chase Briscoe

21.00

108.90

21.78

$6,400

17.02

D

Quin Houff

25.80

81.00

16.20

$4,800

16.88

D

Ryan Preece

25.00

83.20

16.64

$5,600

14.86

D

Josh Bilicki

28.60

65.00

13.00

$4,700

13.83

D

Michael McDowell

23.20

80.15

16.03

$5,800

13.82

D

James Davison

24.00

59.45

19.82

$4,600

12.92

D

Anthony Alfredo

27.20

56.40

11.28

$5,400

10.44

D

BJ McLeod

27.50

52.90

13.23

$5,100

10.37

D

Cody Ware

30.80

47.00

9.40

$4,900

9.59

D

Justin Haley

28.50

45.05

11.26

$5,200

8.66

D

Corey LaJoie

28.60

47.05

9.41

$5,700

8.25

D

Garrett Smithley

30.00

17.00

8.50

$5,300

3.21

D