The Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway is next up on the gauntlet that is the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. The Action Track, as it’s known, is hosting it’s second race of the year on Sunday and it’s setting up to be a barnburner. The only question is will the temps be hotter than the tempers behind the wheel? Especially after the controversy and drama we saw throughout the race at Pocono last Sunday between the Denny Hamlin-Kyle Larson, Ryan Preece-Corey Lajoie, and Austin Dillon-Tyler Reddick spats and helmet throws. Just how is Richmond setting up for DFS? What are the tracks we can look at for comparison? What’s the weather going to be like? What are the best NASCAR DFS strategies to use here for DraftKings and FanDuel? And what were the practice results and qualifying results from Saturday? Keep reading and we’ll get you all set for the Cook Out 400 for DFS NASCAR.

Weather Forecast for Richmond, Virginia

HOT. Does that answer the question? It’s going to be in the 90s with an “Excessive Heat Warning” in place throughout Saturday. It should be a tad cooler on Sunday but still around 90 for air temp and well over 100 for track temp. That is going to make things interesting on track from a tire perspective and driver condition perspective. The Gen 7 cars already run hot in the cockpit and adding loads of external heat to the equation can’t help.

Richmond Raceway Track Layout and Comparison Tracks

One of the “traditional” short tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Richmond is well-known amongst drivers and fans alike. The three-quarter-of-a-mile track isn’t like the other short tracks though. It’s a Tri-oval layout, unlike the ovals that are Bristol and Martinsville, that mimics an intermediate track just on a smaller scale. There’s also the fact that it’s pretty flat. The combination of the shape, size, and flatness means that Richmond compares well with Phoenix and New Hampshire and we can toss a little bit of Nashville and Gateway in the equation too. Mainly though, we’ll be referencing how the drivers have run at Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire in the Gen 7 cars (dating back to 2022) over those eight races. Like at those comparable tracks, passing can be tough at times at Richmond and it may take pit strategy and timely cautions for drivers to move up in chunks rather than doing it strictly on the track on their own speed and skill. The last thing to keep in mind with Richmond is that under normal circumstances we’ve seen tire wear play a role in races, especially later in Green Flag runs, and now with the heat, expect more tire wear to kick in, and earlier.

Are We Worried About Driver Feuds This Week?

Harkening back to what was mentioned in the intro, we saw a lot of driver tiffs at Pocono. Will those matter this week at Richmond? Well, for starters NASCAR has talked to Ryan Preece, Corey Lajoie, Austin Dillon, and Tyler Reddick to make sure there’s no bad blood heading into this weekend. That being said, they didn’t chat with Denny Hamlin nor Kyle Larson. Neither has that much to gain by continuing their issues, however, they are both locked into the playoffs and Richmond does have tight racing lines. I’m not saying anything should be expected, but accidental (on purpose) bumps from the 5-car can’t be ruled out.

DraftKings NASCAR DFS Strategy For Richmond

The chart below shows the average points scored by starting spot over the last five Richmond races regardless of driver, nor reason, starting in that spot. It’s designed to show the strategy for the track for DFS.

With that said, like at most short tracks, we’re looking for laps led in our DraftKings builds. There are 400 laps in the race which means there are between 250 and 280 dominator points available depending on how many cautions there are. When looking at how those points are divided up, on average over the last five races here, there are 12 drivers with double-digit fastest laps a race but it’s different for laps led. On average there are nearly 1.5 drivers a race to lead 100 or more laps with just over three drivers leading 50 or more. So as we can see, things are a bit more separated here compared to other short tracks. Over the last five races here, 55.4-percent of laps led have come from drivers starting P1, P2, P3, or P4 with 43.5-percent coming from drivers starting on the front row. Expect those drivers to be popular as everyone is hunting laps led. If we’re looking for the manufacturer that’s done best here recently, it’s Toyota who’s won 9 of the last 15 races at Richmond.

Position differential is a bit of a different story though. For that let’s break it down in more depth in the next section.

FanDuel NASCAR DFS Strategy For Richmond

While laps led are clearly important on a short track even on FanDuel, the same stats hold true here. However, for FanDuel, the bigger portion of points is made up from position differential and finishing position. So how are we targeting that?

Given that we’ve said that Richmond can be tough to pass at, you’d think we’re looking at drivers staring in the top-third of the field. That’s not wholly accurate though. If we look at the Top-10 Finish %, the percentage of drivers who start outside the top-12 and finish in the top-10, we see that it averages 46-percent over the last five races. That is to say that nearly half of the top-10 finishers in each race didn’t start in the top-12. Whether it be from being faster later in runs, pit strategy, or avoiding ill-timed cautions, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that moving up here is possible. That doesn’t mean we go with a full stack-the-back-half strategy though. If you look at both charts above, you’ll notice that only five positions P20 or worse in the starting grid rank in the top-20 on both sites in DFS scoring average. Only three are in the top-10. Inside the top-10 on the grid, there are three positions that rank outside the top-20 in scoring on both sites as well and five in the top-15 starting spots do that. So it’s not just the back half that’s not really scoring.

To maximize the finish position and PD points here, we’re going to look at long-run speed at practice on Saturday but also who’s been consistent high finishers at comparable tracks as those sample sizes correlate well at Richmond.

Practice and Qualifying Results For Cook Out 400

The following chart shows where drivers ran in practice over single-lap, 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-lap averages and then where they qualified on Saturday for the Cook Out 400. It should help determine who might be able to move up through the pack on Sunday and who might not.

DriverAvg. Prac to QualQual1-Lap5-Lap10-lap15-Lap20-Lap
Tyler Reddick-1511419171315
Kyle Busch-21226212224 
Denny Hamlin-16334321864
Chase Elliott24223  
Bubba Wallace-1598543
William Byron5611111
Ty Gibbs-20727292825 
Kevin Harvick-5816201586
Ricky Stenhouse Jr-69121192321
Martin Truex Jr-21021141097
Ryan Preece-311231613119
Noah Gragson-12122528272118
Brad Keselowski-9133025231914
Kyle Larson-2141717201512
Alex Bowman-9152924262019
Todd Gilliland-4162023241716
Austin Dillon-111724312926 
Michael McDowell-1181822191817
Ross Chastain519221814108
Chase Briscoe-1202826211613
BJ McLeod-142135    
Harrison Burton1223230167 
Joey Logano9231915121210
Aric Almirola202454432
Ryan Blaney92531271155
Chris Buescher24263322 
Erik Jones2227457  
Justin Haley222866   
Christopher Bell1129710302220
Austin Cindric7303333251411
Corey Lajoie22311198  
Ryan Newman18321513   
Daniel Suarez25331076  
Ty Dillon103483431  
JJ Yeley23351312   
AJ Allmendinger 36