Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The third of the Chase for the Sprint Cup comes to a close this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, and while Sunday's Can-Am 500 is the last chance for the title contenders to claim their spot in the championship finale at Homestead, the race is the second-last chance for you to claim some cash playing DFS NASCAR.
As usual, the laps led and fastest laps run categories will be vital. There are 312 laps scheduled for Sunday's race, so the potential for a big point total is there if a driver dominates the event. Considering the flat, 1.0-mile track is notoriously tough to pass at, there is a pretty good chance on driver is going to get out front and stay there for a while.
Recently, that driver has been Kevin Harvick, who has absolutely owned PIR. He has led the most laps in each of the last five races here, winning four times and finishing second in a rain-shortened event last fall. When building your lineups this weekend, you can either build around Harvick or go the contrarian route and hope his run of dominance ends Sunday.
In addition to targeting Harvick, you may also want to load up on drivers who qualify near the front. Track position is huge at Phoenix, and earlier this year, five of the top six qualifiers all finished seventh or better. Last fall, the top eight finishers all started in the top 15, and the top three qualifiers all finished seventh or better.
Make sure to check back after qualifying for updated driver picks and lineup strategies. Qualifying is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. ET Friday, and the Can-Am 500 is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Kevin Harvick ($10,600)
His run of dominance at Phoenix has been nothing short of incredible. The eight-time track winner has finished either first or second in eight of his last nine starts at the track, winning five of the last six races here. In five starts with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick had four wins and a second-place finish, and he has led at least 139 laps in all five races, leading 994 of the 1,468 available laps.
Kyle Busch ($10,400)
Busch has been enjoying a strong stretch at Phoenix, finishing in the top 10 in six of his last eight starts here. He has led the second-most laps of any driver that span, leading 50-plus laps three times. Busch led 75 laps and finished fourth at PIR in March, and a repeat performance could be on tap. He has the high ceiling you look for when you build a DFS NASCAR lineup.
Carl Edwards ($9,100)
While he isn't cheap, Edwards is priced well below the top drivers this weekend, and he has been one of the best at Phoenix. He led 65 laps and finished second by inches here in March, and he is a two-time winner at the track overall. He has a potential to post a big score.
Kurt Busch ($8,400)
Busch has always been solid at Phoenix, and he has really excelled since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He has finished seventh or better in his last four starts at the track and has started in the top 10 in all five starts here with SHR. He is good bet for a top 10 finish and 30-plus fantasy points, and Busch could even do a little damage in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
Ryan Blaney ($7,700)
The sample size is small, but Blaney logged a 10th-place finish in his Phoenix debut in March. The rookie has been a boom-or-bust fantasy play in general this year, but his top 10 potential at this price makes him worth considering, especially if he qualifies in the back half of the field.
Alex Bowman ($6,900)
While he doesn't have much experience at Phoenix, his price tag is shockingly low this weekend. Bowman has been able to challenge for top 10s whenever he drives the No. 88, and at this price, he should be a great value on finishing position alone. If he has some added upside through place differential, he becomes a no-brainer play.
Aric Almirola ($6,700)
Phoenix has been one of Almirola best tracks, and he has reeled off nine straight top 20s here while posting a 15.2 average finish. Almirola finished 10th at PIR last fall and 13th earlier this year, so if he starts outside the top 20, he should be one of the safer low-priced plays.
Michael McDowell ($6,100)
He had a decent showing ta Phoenix in March, starting 33rd and finishing 26th. Meanwhile, McDowell has taken his performance to another level in recent weeks, reeling off five straight top 25 finishes. During that span, he owns an 18.6 average finish and a +10.8 average place differential. As long as he qualifies in the back of the pack again this weekend, McDowell should be a steal.
David Ragan ($5,300)
Ragan has reeled off four straight top 25s at Phoenix, gaining five or more spots in three of those starts and gaining double-digit positions twice. If he starts outside the top 30, as he often does, Ragan could be a cheap source of a 20-plus fantasy points this weekend.