This Week's Good Sam 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
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The Sprint Cup Series continues its West Coast swing this weekend with a trip to Phoenix International Raceway, and after back-to-back races at 1.5-mile ovals, the flat, 1.0-mile oval will be another early-season test for drivers and teams.
Of course, the track hasn't been much of a test for Kevin Harvick, who has absolutely dominated at Phoenix recently. Knowing how well he has run, there are basically two strategies you can adopt this weekend, regardless of the format.
The first option is to build your lineup around Harvick. A majority of the competition is going to be doing the same thing, so this strategy allows you to at least keep pace if Harvick has another dominant showing. On the flip side, you aren't going to gain a lot of ground, no matter how well he performs.
The alternative is to fade Harvick, hoping that he has an unexpected off day. If he struggles, and the A-List driver you pick has a strong run, you stand to gain a lot of points on a lot of people. However, this strategy could also backfire in a big way if Harvick runs well and your contrarian play falters. This strategy is also dependent on not only Harvick struggling but also on your ability to pick an effective alternative.
Early in the year, I tend to opt for a safer approach, but if you want to try to hit a home run, you have a chance to take a big swing this weekend at Phoenix.
1. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 BUSCH BEER/JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
His last five races at Phoenix have been nothing short of incredible. He has four wins and a series-leading 1.2 average finish during the stretch, and his 925 laps led are 769 more than any other driver. His dominance at PIR actually goes back even further, with Harvick finishing either first or second in seven of his last eight starts here.
2. BRAD KESELOWSKI, #2 MILLER LITE, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
Fresh off a win at Las Vegas, Keselowski will try to extend his hot streak at Phoenix. He has finished 11th or better in eight straight starts at the track, and during the stretch, he has six finishes of sixth or better.
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON, #48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
Johnson appears to love the new rules package, and another strong run should be on tap Sunday at Phoenix. His 7.7 average finish at the track is the best in the series, and in 25 starts, he has 19 top 10s and four trips to victory lane.
4. JOEY LOGANO, #22 SHELL-PENNZOIL, TEAM PENSKE[YAHOO CLASS A]
He is one of two drivers that have finished in the top 10 in each of the last five races at Phoenix, and during the streak, he ranks second in laps led, average finish and points scored.
5. DALE EARNHARDT, JR., #88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
Junior won at Phoenix last fall, and as well as he has been running here lately, it's tough to rule out another trip to victory lane. He has five top 10s, including four top five finishes, in his last six starts at the track.