So this week the Sprint Cup Series heads to the Richmond International Raceway. The three-quarter mile track is considered to be "Racing Perfection" and many would agree. This track is fun. Most of the drivers love it, as do the fans.
But this weekend will be interesting for fantasy players due to the absence of Denny Hamlin. Hamlin is one of the best at this track, but due to his back injury he has to miss his hometown race.
That opens up the race for pretty much anyone. And with that, let's take a look at who you should have on your lineup to get the best result this Saturday night.
A-List Must Haves
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is one of the best current A-List drivers at Richmond. He's also the most recent Richmond winner. That gives him two Richmond wins in his career. He finished seventh in the spring race last year. Bowyer hasn't gotten off to a great start so far this season, but he'll turn it around and this would be a great place for him to do so.
Jeff Gordon: Gordon is one of the best ever at Richmond. He has two wins here, and an average finish of 14.39. But lately Gordon has been in a feast-or-famine streak here. He finished second this past fall, but 23rd in the spring. He finished third in the fall 2011 race, but 39th in the April 2011 race. But over his career he does have 16 top-fives and 25 top-10s. Hopefully Gordon's luck starts to change and he will be in the top 10 again on Saturday night.
A-List Wild Card
Tony Stewart: Stewart is great at Richmond. There's no denying that. He has three wins here, 11 top-fives and 19 top-10s. Normally he'd be in the must-have category, but not this season. Performance at Stewart-Haas Racing has been down across the board this year, but Stewart specifically has been very bad. Stewart currently sits 21st in points with only one top 10 on the season. He might be worth the risk, because he's been so good at Richmond throughout his career. But at the same time you may want to stay away. The choice is yours. Obviously.
B-List Must Haves
Kyle Busch: The younger Busch brother is incredible at this race track. Kyle has four wins, 12 top-fives, 13 top-10s for an average finish of 5.44. I'm going to keep this brief and sum it up this way: You want Kyle Busch on your team. Simple as that.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Earnhardt is quietly very good at Richmond. He has three wins, nine top-fives and 11 top-10s for an average finish of 13.93. He's also off to a very hot start this season. He, like Kyle Busch, is a driver you need to have on your team for Saturday night.
Kurt Busch: The older Busch brother has also gotten off to a pretty good start this season. He's had a few hiccups, but his transition to the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team has appeared to be a pretty easy one. Busch has one win, four top-fives, and seven top-10s for an average finish of 18.29.
Mark Martin: I've been saying this for a while now, and I stand by it. You want to have Mark Martin on your eight-man roster because he is so good at qualifying. I've decided to stay away from Martin during the races now, but he's so good at qualifying and those points are so valuable. Martin's average start at Richmond is a 9.7.
B-List Wild Card:
Martin Truex Jr.: Truex's performance has picked up in the last few weeks. He's been up front and competing for the win in both of the last two races. But he's never been that great at Richmond. He has one top-five and two top-10s at Richmond in his career.
As I always say, the C-List is a total toss-up every week.
This week the two drivers I'm looking at are Casey Mears and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
I always keep Stenhouse on my roster because he is the most reliable driver in this category, even though he's only a rookie. I rarely use him, because I don't want to use all of my starts for him too early, but I have him just in case my other C-List driver looks terrible throughout the whole weekend.
I'm putting Mears on my list this weekend because it appears that his Germain Racing team has really picked up their performance this season, especially on short tracks.
Also, it should be noted that A.J. Allmendinger is back in the 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet this Saturday night.