2018 Toyota Owners 400 Picks and Predictions – Top Sleeper Bets for the Toyota Owners 400: For the second week in a row, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes a stop at a short track. Richmond Raceway will host Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400, and if you like to try for a big payday by backing drivers with longer odds, a short track like Richmond is a great place to go out on a limb.
Granted, the top drivers still win a majority of the time, but because of the attrition and unpredictability of short track racing, there usually a few surprise drivers battling at the front of the pack. At Bristol last weekend, Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman all finished in the top five for the first time in 2018.
There should be some unexpected names in the mix again Saturday night, and here is a closer look at the longshots that could be worth backing in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond.
2018 Toyota Owners 400 Picks and Predictions: Top Sleeper Bets for the Toyota Owners 400
Clint Bowyer (20/1)
Bowyer has struggled at Richmond recently, but a lot of those races came while he was driving for smaller teams. He’s back to running in the top 10 on a routine basis with Stewart-Haas Racing this year, and he already went to victory lane at Martinsville a couple of weeks ago. Richmond is one of only three tracks where he has multiple wins, and now that he has his confidence back and quality equipment to work with, Bowyer should be able to recapture his form at the 0.75-mile short track.
Ryan Blaney (25/1)
I know his career numbers at Richmond aren’t pretty, but I’m shocked too see him getting such long odds this weekend. In four Cup starts here, he has an ugly 30.2 average finish, but Blaney has been a top-five caliber driver throughout 2018. There is no doubt that moving to Team Penske this offseason has allowed him to showcase his full potential, and he has emerged as a short track force, leading at least 100 laps at both Martinsville and Bristol. I expect a similar show of force this weekend at Richmond.
Aric Almirola (40/1)
Almirola has blossomed in his first year with Stewart-Haas Racing, proving that he can be a weekly top-10 threat if given great equipment. Eight races into the year, he has seven top-15 finishes, and his 13.1 average finish would be by far the best of his career. Now, Almirola gets a chance to show his stuff at Richmond, a track where he owns the best average finish of his career. He’s coming off a sixth-place finish at Bristol last weekend, and this is his best chance to date to make a legitimate run at a victory. He is one of my favorite value bets this weekend.
Alex Bowman (60/1)
He has quietly been a top-15 driver for most of the year, and Bowman has been getting better throughout the year. He has been particularly impressive at short tracks, finishing seventh at Martinsville and logging a top-five finish last weekend at Bristol. He also had the best performance of his Cup career at Phoenix in 2016, and Richmond has a lot of similarities to Phoenix. Riding a wave of momentum at a track that figures to play to his strengths, Bowman is looking like a potential bargain at 60/1 this weekend.
Ryan Newman (60/1)
The Richard Childress Racing teams have shown more speed this year than they have in a while, and Newman has finished 11th or better in four of the eight races so far. The added speed should bode well for his chances this weekend at Richmond, a track that has been one of his best historically. His 18 top-10s here are tied for his most at any track, and there are only two tracks where he has led more laps. Newman finished seventh and third in the two races at Richmond last year, leading laps in both races. His 60/1 odds are pretty enticing for a driver who spent some time at the front of the field in both races in 2017.
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