Toyota Owners 400 Picks & Analysis

by | Mar 30, 2022 | nascar

Race: Toyota Owners 400

Date: Sunday April 3, 2022

Track: Richmond Raceway

Time: 3:30pm ET

Channel: FOX

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

The watermelon man takes home his first Cup Series win this weekend at COTA! As predicted, Ross Chastain was able to hold off Alex Bowman and AJ Allmendinger is an amazing last lap sprint that led to Bowman spinning out and Allmendinger getting a much less than desirable finish. Chastain and Allmendinger were really the class of the field for the majority of the day, with the battle coming to a head on the very last lap. I will say that the drivers drove clean races. Even at the end, to say that Chastain took out Allmendinger is a misnomer. Once the bumping commences, all is fair on the last lap. Allmendinger was trying to fit his car where it didn’t belong (which I would’ve too at that point) to gain the advantage on Chastain when Bowman came from nowhere and had a magnificent run to try to take the lead. Allmendinger and Bowman ended up taking each other out, leaving Chastain to come home with the checkered flag. What a victory it was! Chastain got Trackhouse Racing a notorious win for a somewhat underdog team. It’s always questionable when we see a team form essentially from scratch and is not a direct arm of one of the big 3 or 4 names in NASCAR history. It’s pretty cool, really, to see some talent come from the bottom. This talent isn’t bought but made. Not to take away from the credibility of the other big names on the track, but it’s refreshing to see the underdog win.

Heading into Sunday’s race, I think most of us were pretty secure in our hopes of Chase Elliott repeating his win from last year’s inaugural race at COTA. That being said, Elliott was fortunate to walk away with even a top 5 finish. I guess it wasn’t all luck. Needless to say, the car was trash when they took it off the trailer. They all admitted that. The entire team worked diligently all day long to get that car in a much better position. The last part of the race definitely helped them as well with multiple restarts. Let’s not forget our other pick for potential winners. Tyler Riddick was in the mix at the very end and just fell short when Chastain overtook him on a late restart. Riddick was strong all day long and managed to come home with a very respectable 5th place finish. Christopher Bell was the one driver we haven’t talked about in the top 5. He finished 3rd overall. All things said and done, it was an excellent finish and the best for the Gibbs drivers, who seemed to struggle for most of the day. Overall, it was a decently incident-free day for both NASCAR as an organization and the drivers. The majority of the race stayed quiet in terms of actual wrecks. Even though they fanned out 5 and 6 wide on those restarts, they somehow all managed to navigate it almost every time with little to no carnage. That was impressive.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

The drivers are heading from one anomaly to a short-ish track. While Richmond is theoretically a short track, it races much like an intermediate. It’s not a Bristol or Martinsville. It’s quite a bit faster and allows the field to spread out much more throughout the race. This track is a 0.75-mile D-shaped asphalt oval with 14 degrees of banking in the turns, 8 degrees on the front stretch, and just 2 degrees on the backstretch. As you can imagine, tires are going to once again be a story this weekend. We’re back to different tire codes on different positions as the drivers are back on an oval. Goodyear has left a lot on the table this year, in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s strictly due to the new car and new wheel size or a lack of testing, or a combination of it all. Regardless, I think the pattern of tire failures will continue. The thing about Richmond is that there is still a solid amount of braking along with acceleration into and out of the turns due to the configuration. It’s almost like this track is in between a true short track and an intermediate. It’s a “sintermediate.” That was bad. I know. But you get what I’m saying.

Odds and Value Picks

When it comes to picking a winner for this weekend’s race, there are a few things to take a look at. I’m seeing a lot of books throwing odds at Kyle Larson. I’m not counting him out. We’d be stupid to count out Larson on any weekend. That said, this isn’t historically his best track. He has a win here from back in 2017, but his overall finishes usually sit somewhere between 6th and 15th. Again, I’m not counting him out, but I’d hold out on him for a better track. Chase Elliott is also another driver pulling odds almost as good as Larson’s, but, again, I’m not too sure that he’s going to pull the W out. He’s last five races averaged a finish at around 9th. Is that bad? No. Is that someone I’d set at the top of my board this weekend? Also, no. Keep in mind the troubles the team had with the car setup just last weekend. They proved they could overcome quite a bit, but they’re going to need to pull a solid car off the trailer this weekend if Elliott is going to contend for the win. If we look at the best drivers here historically, the veterans do have an advantage. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Richmond:

  • Favorite: Joey Logano. Bet YOUR pick for FREE! Simply use bonus code PREDICT100 when you register for a betting account at MyBookie Sportsbook through this special link, deposit $100 to $300 and they’ll reward you with a dollar for dollar 100% REAL CASH bonus!
  • Mid-Range Pick: Alex Bowman
  • Dark Horse: Aric Almirola

Almirola has seen some of his best finishes at this track. He’s got quite a few top 10 finishes and might surprise us this weekend. Alex Bowman is looking to wipe off the disappointment of last weekend with a fresh start and hopefully a short-track win on Sunday. Bowman has a slew of rough finishes here, but you can also add a win from this race last spring. Bowman can make up for COTA with a repeat of his 2021 victory if he stays clean and brings a solid car to the track this weekend. Ultimately, everyone will be chasing down Logano if all cards fall into place. While Logano has had his fair share of struggles, they haven’t been in vain. He also has one of the best driver averages at this track and is looking to capitalize on it this weekend. Look for Logano to stay thirsty in his quest for a third Richmond win. He’s also looking to pick up some more stage points in a quest to gain some momentum in the points arena. Here are your current top 16 after the results from COTA:

  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Ross Chastain
  4. William Byron
  5. Ryan Blaney
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Chase Briscoe
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Kyle Larson
  10. Austin Cindric
  11. Tyler Reddick
  12. Aric Almirola
  13. Daniel Suarez
  14. Kurt Busch
  15. Kyle Busch
  16. Kevin Harvick

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It’s super cool seeing guys like Briscoe and Cindric and Chastain and Reddick in the top group of drivers. The racing this year has exceeded my expectations. I’ll be honest. As a lifetime NASCAR fan, I’ve been skeptical. It’s been a rough couple of years, but so far, the racing has been great at every track. We’re seeing a lot of action but not a massive amount of carnage. We’re seeing newer teams not only able to run with the big dogs but actually winning and contending each and every weekend. Are there still some tweaks to work out? Sure. But overall, I think NASCAR can call 2022 one of their better years in recent history, at least so far. We’ll have to wait and see if it continues. Stay tuned for an action-packed Sunday of short track racing at Richmond Raceway! Note: Want more free bets? Check out our full list of sportsbooks, with many that offer 100% real cash bonuses!