This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
TOYOTA OWNERS 150
Richmond Raceway (0.75-mile D-shaped oval)
One 150-Lap Main Event
William Byron finally got his first eNASCAR Pro Invitational series two weeks ago in a dominating performance at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver won his heat race, started the feature event on pole and led the most laps in a clean victory. Perhaps most important, he avoided the trouble that seemed to lurk around every corner. The middle of the pack proved to be a very dangerous place to be racing with the number of incidents that occurred. The race rattled emotions and may have generated some rivalries that could build as the series rolls on.
This week the series returns with another short-track race at Richmond International Raceway. The long corners will mean drivers need to pay attention to tire wear, and we could see another race where fresh tires make all the difference at the finish. Avoiding trouble in the middle of the pack and saving damage resets to use strategically will help boost drivers into a position to fight for the win at the finish. Learning from the last two weeks, drivers will be wary of the consequences of their actions online in the real world, too. Let's hope that doesn't dampen the entertainment.
Timmy Hill ($10,600) - Timmy Hill has been the most consistent driver at the front of the field through the first Pro Invitational events. He is the only driver to finish in the top 5 in every race. In addition to his Texas victory, he has also not finished lower than third. Hill has plenty of iRacing experience and that is separating him from the rest of the pack in these initial races. There is nothing that seems to stand in his way of yet another top-5 finish for him this week at Richmond, and one wonders if this virtual success will open the door for bigger opportunities when in-person racing get underway again.
William Byron ($11,000) - Byron had a near perfect run two weeks ago in the first short-track race of the virtual series. He navigated his way to victory in his heat race, which put him on pole for the main event. From there he went on to lead 116 laps and won ahead of John Hunter Nemechek, who won his heat race to start on the front row. Byron looked set to win in Texas before getting pushed out of the way by Hill and came back in a big way to add his name to the victor's list. He was seventh and led 80 of 130 laps in that race. If there is any driver likely to rival Timmy Hill's abilities in this format Byron looks to be the one.
John Hunter Nemechek ($9,600) - Nemechek finished second in the two eNASCAR Pro Invitational events events he contested. He did not take part in the Miami race, but was eighth in Texas and then followed that with a runner-up showing in Bristol. Nemechek has been one of the young drivers fantasy owners have had on their radar up until racing was forced to the virtual world, and he is proving that same talent exists online as well. While he did not lead any laps in Bristol, he was out front for 10 laps in Texas. Nemechek has proven himself to be one of the more capable and consistent options in eNASCAR and that should give fantasy players confidence when considering him for this week's Richmond outing.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,900) - While Earnhardt had a disappointing finish in Bristol, he had a remarkable run last week in the IndyCar series. He got behind the wheel in that series by invitation when they tackled Michigan International Speedway. Earnhardt said it was his first time racing the IndyCar version and that he was just as excited to take the track with the stars of that series as they were to race against him. It wasn't all for show, though. Earnhardt started in the middle of the pack and avoided trouble at the start to work his way into position to capitalize on what became a fuel-strategy race. He finished third. That was no small feat, and when you couple that with his sixth-place in Texas and runner-up in Miami you get a viable fantasy option for Richmond.
Ty Dillon ($5,800) - Dillon, while making the most of his virtual racing for sponsors, hasn't found the results he would have been hoping for just yet. He finished 25th in Bristol, finishing ahead of only one other car still running at the finish. He was 16th in Texas and 19th in Miami. Dillon uses an older rig that appears to be situated in a guest bedroom, and admitted that his setup was older than he wished. It's uncertain how much that plays into his finishes, but other drivers make do with less-than-ideal equipment. Dillon needs to get some seat time under his belt and grab a top-10 finish or two before fantasy owners should become more confident when considering selecting him.
Ryan Blaney ($5,300) - Blaney is one of the drivers who hasn't been able to translate his real-world abilities into the virtual version. Blaney is establishing himself as a top contender on the NASCAR circuit but has been largely anonymous online. His first foray into the Pro Invitational series was as Chase Elliott's crew chief. He was promptly fired after one race and was forced to move back behind the wheel to stay in the action. Blaney was 26th in Bristol and 27th in Texas. He was the last finisher of cars still running in last week's race and could use some improvement to be valuable for fantasy rosters. It would probably be wise to see if he shows any improvement this week before seriously considering him.
Daniel Suarez ($6,400) - Suarez has competed in two eNASCAR events and has been disqualified from both. In Texas he attempted to wreck Ty Dillon, which resulted in a call to the virtual hauler. Then in Bristol more incidents led him to being taken from the race. As of yet we really don't have much to base expectations on for him. It may take a race or two to find his footing and begin recording actual results, otherwise he will continue to remain a risky play for fantasy players. Suarez has three top-10 finishes from six real-world Richmond starts, but it remains to be seen if he is capable of making it the complete race distance in the virtual world.
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($7,000) - Wallace's results in eNASCAR haven't been the greatest. He came out of the box strong with a seventh-place finish in Miami, but failed to crack the top 20 in the next two races. To make things even worse from a fantasy perspective, he actually quit the last round mid-race. He had multiple incidents with Clint Bowyer before finally dropping out of the event. In doing so, he also lost a real-world sponsor. The past week has shown that despite the fun these virtual races have offered, they can also include real-life consequences. Wallace may have been the first to feel that type of pain with his Bristol experience, and it would be wise to wait and see how his approach changes as a result.