NASCAR heads into the desert for round number four of the 2017 season. Phoenix is one of the most unique tracks on the schedule, giving us a welcomed break from intermediate racing. Phoenix races like a speedway and a short track at the same time — providing teams with a challenge to setup for. Let’s get you ready for your NASCAR weekend on DraftKings.
Lately, this has been Kevin Harvick’s house. He’s won the Phoenix Spring race three years in a row, but struggled here in the fall. Can he get back on track for the race on Sunday? We’ll see, but we’ve got some new players here who could crash Harvick’s party.
The Cheat Sheet
|Rank||#||Driver||Start||Q-Diff||Av. Prac. Speed||Proj Ceiling||DFS Pos Scoring||Salary||Total Points||PP1K|
|5||78||Martin Truex Jr||16||11||5||5||39||9400||50||5.3191489361702|
|14||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||3||-4||7||7||37||8500||36.75||4.3235294117647|
|18||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||21||3||19||18||26||6700||29||4.3283582089552|
The Play of the Week
Joey Logano is the most obvious answer here, starting from the pole. Logano picked up his first career win at Phoenix last year, despite not having the best car. He ran in the top five last fall all day and was able to capitalize when Alex Bowman and Matt Kenseth has issues. Logano should be able to lead the first segment and more. DraftKings rewards you for laps led and fast laps and Joey should dominate both categories early on. I’m expecting him to hang around the top five for most of the day, racking up more dominator points in the process.
I’ve already mentioned Joey Logano as the primary leader, here are the best of the rest.
Kyle Busch led the 5, 10, 15 and 20 lap averages in final practice. You get a nice little bonus with Kyle coming from 9th, too. I would expect the No. 18 to be up front pretty quickly, dueling potentially with Joey Logano…. which could get interesting. Treat Busch like a leader when building. I think you can play him with Logano and potentially rack up a huge portion of the laps led on Sunday. Busch also offers a nice fade off of Truex, who should be highly owned.
Matt Kenseth was great here in the fall and showed nice long run speed once again in final practice. Similar to Busch, he’s coming from 12th meaning you should get some place differential upside here. I don’t know if he can challenge Joey or Kyle, but he may be the third best car in the field.
Back to Fronts
Kevin Harvick – Harvick is an obvious play this week coming from 23rd at his best track on the circuit. He’s won this particular event three times in a row, to give you an idea of how dominant he’s been. Now we get the added cushion and upside of a 23rd place starting position.
However, Harvick wasn’t thrilled with his speed on Saturday during final practice. He knows the feel he needs to win races and he clearly didn’t have it on Saturday. Can Rodney Childers and the boys get him fixed up before tomorrow? Probably. I’d recommend around 50 percent ownership for Harvick, considering his price.
Martin Truex Jr. should be one of your most heavily owned drivers on Sunday. Starting from 16th, Truex has plenty of upside. He can win at any track and he’s proven he has the speed to do so. Phoenix typically isn’t kind to Truex, but I see no reason why he can’t bring home a solid top ten and challenge for more. Truex was the fastest of the cars that turned in a ten lap average during the Saturday morning practice session.
Ryan Newman should be a nice little mid-tier play this week. I’m not expecting Newman to set the world on fire by any means, but Newman should be able to run in that 15th range for most of the day. Starting from 22nd, Newman is one of the safer plays of the day.
Michael McDowell shouldn’t be forgotten about starting 25th. He’s proven that he can run in the teens, no matter what the track. McDowell looked somewhat competitive on the stopwatch during Saturday practices and should be able to hang around on the edge of the top 20 for much of the day.
Daniel Suarez is struggling — no doubt about it. Be careful here, but coming from 27th there’s a lot of potential here. We know how good the car is, but it’s up to Suarez to put it all together. He’s a really cheap option this week for a reason, but I think you at least need some exposure to him for tournament play.
Aric Almirola proved me wrong last week. He’s one that routinely qualifies outside of the top 25 and is always in this category. The problem is that sometimes he doesn’t have the speed to advance. Tread lightly here, but you definitely need some Almirola in some lineups for Sunday. The upside is too much to pass up starting 28th.
Chris Buescher is another rookie who is stuggling. To be blunt — his equipment doesn’t look up to par yet. They have shown zero speed. Add Buescher to the “tread lightly” group, but coming from 33rd he’s worth at least a couple of shots. This team has RCR support, so in theory they can’t stay this bad for long.
Drivers I’m Staying Away From
Ryan Blaney just starts too high. 2nd place offers little upside with a very fast Joey Logano sitting in front of him. I don’t think he can pass Joey — and he’ll have plenty of hungry hounds behind him gunning for his spot. I’d expect a decent top ten out of Blaney, but you don’t need that on your roster.
Austin Dillon looks like a pretty good play coming from 17th, but he has really struggled this weekend. The No. 3 just doesn’t have any speed. I don’t mind a few tournament lineups with Dillon, but I’m not expecting much from him.
Trevor Bayne just doesn’t look appealing on the speed charts. A 24th starting position looks enticing, but I’m not sure I can trust Bayne with what he’s shown us in practices.
Jamie McMurray continues to qualify nicely. This week he starts 5th, but I’m not sure he can stay there. I’m expecting about a 10th place run, which should take him out of consideration.
Others to Consider
Jimmie Johnson is a bit of a lightning rod play. He hasn’t run up front yet this year, but he looked good in final practice, posting the second fastest 20 lap average.
Kasey Kahne starts 10th with limited upside, but I think he’s got a chance to hang around in that 7-10 range all day. He could be an off the wall play that wins you a tournament.
Denny Hamlin will have to start from the rear, but he’ll be scored from 19th. I don’t think you should be afraid of this. Hamlin always succeeds on the shorter, flat tracks. I’d expect a top ten out of Hamlin.