NASCAR returns to the short track portion of its schedule with both the Cup and Xfinity Series in action this weekend from Richmond Raceway. The ToyotaCare 250 goes green Saturday afternoon and we have a pretty respectable field. We have former Cup Series drivers, a Truck Series driver making his Xfinity Series debut, and we have some short, flat track specialists to look at as well. We’re back to the short track portion of the schedule so it’s time to recalibrate how we build lineups following last week’s action at COTA. Here are the top NASCAR DFS lineups picks and strategies for Saturday afternoon’s ToyotaCare 250. 


Richmond Raceway is a 0.75-mile short, flat track with probably the most tire wear we could see on a short track. Laps tick off quickly and cars will get lapped. But we have 250 laps to consider for Saturday’s action. The laps will be broken into stage segments of 75-75-100, which is fairly balanced overall. When we account for caution laps, we might end up with ~160 dominator points at the end of the day. 

Richmond is a tricky track. We’ll see some high scores, but we have to account for a few things. For starters, this is the Xfinity Series. There are massive gaps when we consider equipment and overall talent. Aside from the natural cautions it shouldn’t be too surprising to see maybe four-to-six additional cautions for equipment failure or wrecks. But we also have to point out this isn’t the easiest track on the schedule to make passes. So, we’ll actually need some carnage for some drivers to move up. The Xfinity Series is never short of nonsense that hurts lineups more than it helps. And lastly, we have to be weary of tire degradation. Richmond is an older surface. And it’s unique in the sense that it’s a short track. And we’ve recently lost high tire wear configurations of old Atlanta and Auto Club. We don’t have many direct comparisons for Richmond. It’s longer than Martinsville. But still shorter than Phoenix, New Hampshire, Gateway, Nashville, and others. And lastly, it is entirely possible we see some drivers get off cycle for strategy if they simply want to make a move for track position to take a shot at winning.

Last year’s race did see some movers. It had six cautions for 43 laps with SIX drivers finishing in the top 15 that started P20 or deeper in the field. There were also five drivers that led at least 20 laps, with three of them leading at least 40 laps. The 2022 race saw Ty Gibbs and John Hunter Nemechek start on the front row and they led 249 of the 250 laps and surely enough they both finished first and second. Four drivers finished in the top 15 that started outside the top 20 with three of those names starting outside the top 25. The 2021 race had an even balance of five drivers leading at least 20 laps and again, five drivers started outside the top 20 and finished in the top 15. Moreover, five drivers started P27 or deeper in the field and finished in the top 17. Overall, over this three-race sample size, we’ve seen on average 23 drivers finish on the lead lap. Truthfully, I would’ve bet that number would be lower and I’m surprised the Xfinity Series has shown the ability to move up here. But with enough cautions that’s certainly possible for this race.

ToyotaCare 250 Practice Notes

ToyotaCare 250 Core Driver Picks

Top Price Core Plays

Chandler Smith ($10,800; Starting P4)

We skip over Justin Allgaier to kick off the ToyotaCare 250 Playbook. Allgaier has great track history, but since Richmond moved to having just one race on the Xfinity Series schedule, Allgaier’s finishes haven’t been as consistent, but we can definitely circle back after qualifying. Richmond represents Smith’s lone win in his brief tenure with Kaulig Racing before he rejoined the Toyota camp via Joe Gibbs Racing. Smith had a 138.3 driver rating when he won this race last year with 83 laps led. We’re also just a few weeks removed from his win at Phoenix, a similarly short, flat track. He also finished as the runner-up at New Hampshire last year. So we’ve seen him have success on similar tracks in lesser equipment. And we’ve already seen him collect a win with his new team. We know this is a big weekend for JGR given their relationship with Toyota so I’m expecting a competitive car for Smith on Saturday. 

Cole Custer ($10,500; Starting P3)

Custer had a solid run in this race a year ago. If you’ll recall, he actually had a bit of a slow start to the 2023 season and Richmond is where he kind of turned things around. He started P22 and finished fifth and found his groove as the season went on and it culminated in his 2023 Xfinity Series Championship. Custer has been very good at qualifying his car as well. He’s won the pole twice in his last three races and managed to lead 60+ laps at Phoenix while grabbing a top five finish. He also won here back in 2019 while leading 122 laps. If he gets a good qualifying effort he likely makes for a stout primary or secondary dominator alongside one of the pricy JGR drivers.

Aric Almirola ($10,300; Starting P10)

I guess this is the least surprising write-up for this Playbook. I’ve written ad nausea about Joe Gibbs Racing’s prowess at Richmond. Plus, Almirola is a short, flat track specialist. We’ve discussed this numerous times before during his time in the Cup Series. He even managed to win a race in the Xfinity Series last year in lesser equipment. Granted, that was Sonoma. But still, he’ll be in some of the best equipment in the field. The concern might lie in the fact that in terms of dominators, the top tier is wide open. I would consider all the JGR cars, even the JRM and SHR cars. So it really boils down to qualifying and how the cars look Saturday morning during practice. Once we know the starting order, we can zone in on how we want to approach our dominator targets. Almirola also won’t be racing for points so he can pit ahead of the stage breaks for track position. But ahead of all that, we’re all licking our chops at the prospects of Almirola in a JGR car at this specific track. 

Sheldon Creed ($10,000; Starting P20)

Creed gets mentioned simply because of the starting spot. If paying over $10,000 for a driver it's recommended that you also feel good about them getting dominator points. Creed finished sixth and 22nd in two races at Richmond with RCR. Fortunately, he's in a Joe Gibbs Racing car and should move up, but there are drivers with higher ceilings in this range. He needs to finish seventh with no dominator points to pay off the price tag.

Mid-Price Core Plays

Austin Hill ($9,500; Starting P16)

I don’t actually think too many will draw themselves to Hill or his teammate, Jesse Love ($9,400). Love is getting a little too pricy, but he’s been worth it, as has Hill. Hill has finished fourth or better in all five Xfinity Series races so far this season, including his wins at Daytona and Atlanta. And he’s doing it without dominating the race by any means. He has just 19 fastest laps and 18 laps led on the year. That’s a bit of a pro and a con, but at the end of the day he’s putting the car in position for solid finishes and he’s returned 45+ fantasy points on DraftKings in all five races. Richmond isn’t a track that we think Hill can excel at, but we don’t think of him as a road course driver nor a flat track driver and yet he finished second at COTA and fourth at Phoenix. If looking for a unique way to get different among your dominators, let’s see how sporty Hill’s car is during practice and qualifying.

Riley Herbst ($9,200; Starting P14)

I’m fond of Custer this week and I have a good feeling about his teammate, Riley Herbst, as well. If you’ve been checking in on the NASCAR DFS Discord channel, I dropped this fun tweet from earlier in the week regarding Herbst running position so far this season.

Of all the laps run this year in the Xfinity Series, Herbst has run in the top five for roughly 65% of them. And that’s the most in the series. Not bad for a guy with only one career win. However, since that win, he has run very well through the playoffs of last year and that carried over to 2024. Since joining SHR ahead of the 2022 season he has a pair of top five finishes at Richmond and in last year’s race he led 27 laps while finishing second in the first stage and third in the second. Unfortunately, he still finished outside the top 20. That has always been his Achilles heel. He has struggled with the overall finish. But there is some dominator potential here and at $9,200 he’s not horribly priced given that he’s had speed in the car every week.

Bubba Pollard ($8,000; Starting P37)

Plenty of eyes will be on Bubba Pollard for Saturday’s race. This might be a bit too pricy for Pollard, but he comes from a short track background and he’ll be racing in an additional JRM car so the equipment should be able to hold up. You have to wonder if the bigger stage may get to him, but if there was ever a place to make your debut, at least it’s on a track you’re comfortable with. He’s one of the most successful super late model drivers that is currently active and he has a little experience in the ARCA Series. But for a driver that’ll be in elite equipment for just $8,000 we should keep an eye on him. For what it’s worth, I’m also very keen on Taylor Gray ($8,500; Starting P27) who will be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and also making his Xfinity Series debut. Gray already has three top four finishes in the Truck Series and has been in contention to win in more races than last year. We’ve already touched on how good JGR is here and Gray is a bit of a dark horse, similar to Pollard. Update: Pollard gets into the race on owner's points. He didn't have a great qualifying effort since he had to go out earlier the most of the field. Taylor Gray will also be viable starting P27.

Value-Price Core Plays

Matt DiBenedetto ($7,200; Starting P31) and Ryan Sieg ($7,000; Starting P15)

Matty D could very well be popular for this race and I don’t love low-$7K chalk but we’ll see where he qualifies. Name recognition and pricing alone will be enough to catch everyone’s eye. DiBenedetto is well known from his time in the NASCAR Cup Series and his brief tenure in the Craftsman Truck Series where he scored his lone career win at Talladega. The interesting thing about this weekend is that he’ll be driving for RSS Racing and this organization brought some sports cars to Richmond last year. All three RSS cars finished in the top 20. Ryan Sieg, who we’ll get to shortly, started P17 and finished seventh. Chris Hacker started P29 and finished 14th. And rounding out the team, Kyle Sieg started P25 and finished 20th. So we’ll need either an elite finish or a good amount of PD from DiBenedetto for this race, but if RSS nails the setup once again then he might be showing up with a top 15 car. We could also just end up spending an extra $100 for Parker Retzlaff ($7,300; Starting P1) who has shown he’s very comfortable driving on this type of track and he also grabbed a top 10 at Richmond with RSS Racing back in 2022. Update: Retzlaff won the pole and I'm actually okay throwing him in some lineups still. This is a track he can thrive at and if he gets the early lead and some dominator points for cheap, we just need him to finish top 10.

It’s actually a bit insane that Matty D is more expensive than Sieg this weekend. In his last seven races here, Sieg hasn’t finished outside the top 15 and he has back-to-back top 10 finishes at this track. He should be more popular that DiBenedetto, but we’ll see how qualifying shakes out. But it’s one of those weeks where all three RSS Racing drivers get an acknowledgment from me.

Kyle Sieg ($5,500; Starting P34)

Richmond is a unique track because it’s short, has tire wear, and we’ll see plenty of these cheap drivers get lapped. However, in the last three Xfinity Series races we’ve seen, on average, 23 cars finish on the lead lap, as mentioned at the top of the article. Sieg gained five spots of PD in this race a year ago, finished 20th, and was on the lead lap. Perhaps the typical Xfinity Series nonsense can bring out enough cautions to help some back markers in this field. He’s cheap enough where if we can squeeze out 25 fantasy points, we’ll take it in the hopes that we’ve nailed the other two dominators. He finished 20th at Vegas and 25th at Phoenix just a few weeks ago.

Update: Matt DiBenedetto and Kyle Sieg both start outside the top 30 so the PD is there but Matty D, in particular, will be chaky. Ryan Sieg qualified inside the top 20. All three are in play but as always, trust your gut. It's not a bad spot to pivot off DiBenedetto.

Brennan Poole ($5,200; Starting P19)

For a driver that is so cheap, Brennan Poole has found a way to pay off his price tag almost every race. Sure, at Vegas and Phoenix he finished right about where he started. But at the end of the day you have a value-priced driver still returning 20-25 fantasy points at minimum and he’s gone for 30+ fantasy points in three races as well. With top 20’s in all five races in sub-par equipment he is showing that he is a good driver, but we’ve known that for a while now. He did run this race each of the last two years for JD Motorsports and Mike Harmon Racing. He had some very poor finishes in those races. But he does have three top 10 finishes during his time with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016 and 2017. His Alpha Prime car obviously isn’t quite as good as the CGR equipment but it’s better than the junk he drove in 2022 and 2023. For the same reason I’ll acknowledge Ryan Ellis ($5,100; Starting P22) as well as a cheap punt play. Update: Poole qualified inside the top 20. While, yes, it's possible he loses points because of the starting spot it's entirely possible he holds the spot and can get 20-25 fantasy points as we've already discussed.

ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR DFS Lineup Picks

Pricing TierDrivers
Top PriceJustin Allgaier ($11,000; Starting P5)
Chandler Smith; $10,800; Starting P4)
Cole Custer ($10,500; Starting P3)
Aric Almirola ($10,300; Starting P10)
Sheldon Creed ($10,000; Starting P20)
Mid-PriceAustin Hill ($9,500; Starting P16)
Jesse Love ($9,400; Starting P8) - GPP Only
Riley Herbst ($9,200; Starting P14)
Taylor Gray ($8,500; Starting P27)
Bubba Pollard ($8,000; Starting P37)
Value PriceParker Retzlaff ($7,300; Starting P1)
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,200; Starting P31)
Ryan Siieg ($7,000; Starting P15)
Josh Williams ($6,600; Starting P26)
Jeb Burton ($6,500; Starting P21)
Kyle Sieg ($5,500; Starting P34)
Brennan Poole ($5,200; Starting P19)
Ryan Ellis ($5,100; Starting P22)