Camping World 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stays on the West Coast this weekend, and Phoenix International Raceway is the next stop on the schedule. The flat, 1.0-mile track will host Sunday's Camping World 500, and when it comes to building a winning DFS NASCAR lineup, Phoenix is a bit of curveball compared to the last two races at Atlanta and Las Vegas.
Yes, the dominator categories are going to remain the focal point. With 300-plus laps on tap at a track where passing is tough, there is a good chance that one driver is going to be able to lead a lot of laps. In recent years, that one driver has been Kevin Harvick.
Harvick's dominance at PIR is almost unheard of in this era of NASCAR. He has six wins in the last ten races at Phoenix, including four in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing. More importantly, he has owned the laps led category at the track, leading more laps than the rest of the field combined since joining SHR.
It is basically at the point where lineup strategies fall into two categories - those built around and Harvick and those that fade him. In cash games, you are probably better off just rostering Harvick in almost all your lineups. In GPPs, you will want a healthy mix of lineups with and without him.
Of course, you can't just have a one-driver lineup, so check Harvick and my other top plays ahead of Sunday's Camping World 500 at Phoenix.
Kevin Harvick ($11,100)
As I mentioned in the introduction, Harvick has owned Phoenix the last few years. He is an eight-time winner at the track overall, and he ranks first in both dominator categories. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, he has four wins and a 1.7 average finish in six starts at PIR, and his 994 laps led are 800 more than any other driver.
Joey Logano ($10,500)
Logano picked up the win at Phoenix last fall, and he has been the best alternative to Kevin Harvick. He has six Top 10s in his last seven starts at the track, and he has led 30-plus laps three times in that span. If you are going with the contrarian style, Logano is the smartest driver to build around.
Brad Keselowski ($10,300)
He has been the model of consistency at Phoenix, and over the last ten races here, Keselowski has nine Top 15s and ranks second with an average finish of 9.1 During the same span, Keselowski has finished sixth or better six times. Throw in the fact that Keselowski has been one of the most impressive drivers in the opening weeks of the season, and he has to be considered one of the top plays this weekend.
Kurt Busch ($8,700)
Busch has always been fast at Phoenix, and among active drivers, he ranks third in fastest laps run and fourth in laps led. He has also been one of the most dependable drivers at the track since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, and he enters Sunday's race with five straight finishes of seventh or better at PIR. A Top 10 finish seems likely, and he might even chip in some points in the dominator categories.
Kyle Larson ($9,100)
It looks like Larson is in the middle of making the leap to legitimate star, and he has been in the mix for the win in each of the first three races this year. He has also been stout at Phoenix in his career. Larson has four Top 15s in his last five starts at PIR, including a third-place run last fall. He has Top 5 upside this weekend, and Larson is a contrarian candidate to win the dominator categories.
Ryan Blaney ($8,000)
He got his feet wet at Phoenix last season, and Blaney's first two starts at the track both ended with Top 10s. The sophomore has looked strong to open 2017, and he enters Sunday's race ranked sixth in points with two Top 10s in three races. Expect another solid run this weekend at a track where he has already enjoyed plenty of success, and his value only goes up if he has some room to move forward after qualifying.
Ryan Newman ($8,200)
Newman has been one of the safest picks at Phoenix for a while now, and he has six finishes of 12th or better in his last seven starts at the track. In that same stretch, he has gained at least seven spots four times. If he starts around the middle of the pack, he should be a perfect cash game option.
Aric Almirola ($6,900)
After a horrible showing at Atlanta, Almirola showed a little life with a Top 15 finish at Las Vegas. The solid showing is encouraging, and so is his record at Phoenix. He has a 15.9 average finish over the last ten races here, and he has just one finished outside the Top 20 in that span. Over the last three years, Almirola has gained an average of 4.1 spots per race in six starts at PIR. If he continues to qualify deep in the field, you will want to look his way in cash games.
Trevor Bayne ($6,800)
His numbers at Phoenix aren't great, but Bayne is riding a wave of momentum thanks to a strong start to the season. He has opened 2017 with three straight Top 15s, and it appears that he and Roush Fenway Racing have taken a leap forward. Bayne is worth a roll of the dice this weekend, especially if he has upside through place differential after qualifying.
Landon Cassill ($5,600)
The Front Row Motorsports driver is off to a solid start. After three races, Cassill has a 21.7 average finish and an average place differential of +5.3. Last year, he finished 25th and 20th in two starts at Phoenix, gaining a combined ten spots in those races. If Cassill qualifies outside the Top 25 this weekend, he should be a useful source of cap relief.