Camping World 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes a stop in the desert this weekend as the West Coast swing continues. Next up is Phoenix International Raceway, and the flat, 1.0-mile oval is set to host Sunday's Camping World 500.
After opening the season with a restrictor-plate race and two races at 1.5-mile ovals, Sunday's trip to Phoenix is a chance to get a little creative with your fantasy lineups, particularly in the Yahoo game. Flat tracks like PIR fall into their own category, and as with any specific track type, certain drivers excel, and certain drivers tend to struggle when you away most of the banking.
After leaning heavily on the biggest names from the biggest teams the last two weeks, I will try to take advantage of some flat track specialists Sunday at Phoenix. In the Yahoo game, this is a good opportunity to go with some B-List and C-List alternatives.
In the NASCAR.com game, I tried to focus on the dominator categories without completely punting the bottom of my lineup. Now that the scoring system includes bonus points for running in the Top 10 at the end of the first two race stages, a driver who can run in or around the Top 10 all afternoon is a lot more valuable. At the same time, there are 300-plus laps on tap, so you still need a couple of drivers who can run up front. Balance is critical.
In the FOX game, a couple of strong, expensive options happened to qualify in the back, making them must-own options in this scoring system. I had to adjust the rest of my lineup accordingly, but when you have the chance to exploit the place differential category, you have to take advantage and make the salary cap numbers work.
Check out a closer look at my fantasy lineups for all three season-long games, and make sure to get your lineups locked in for the Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Kevin Harvick (A)
I won't blame anyone for going with a contrarian play, but this early in the season, I'm going with the guy sure to be the popular pick. Harvick has absolutely owned Phoenix, compiling a 2.7 average finish in his last ten starts here. During that same stretch, he has eight finishes of either first or second. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick hasn't finished worse than fourth in six starts at PIR. Don't overthink this one. It is worth using up one of his starts Sunday.
Kyle Larson (B)
He is running as well as he ever has in his Cup career, and Larson looks capable of winning whenever he gets behind the wheel right now. He also has four Top 15s in his last five starts at Phoenix, including a third-place run last fall. He is one of the top B-List options overall, and I want to try to get the most out of him while he is firing on all cylinders and heading to a track where he has already had some success. His Top 5 qualifying effort only makes him more appealing.
Ryan Blaney (B)
Blaney is off to an excellent start in 2017, and since he has shown a tendency to be streaky, I want to strike while the iron is hot. He finished in the Top 10 in both his starts at Phoenix as a rookie last year, and he qualified on the front row for Sunday's race. I think he has Top 5 upside this weekend.
Ty Dillon (C)
I think Erik Jones is going to have a great run this weekend, but I think Jones is going to have Top 15 potential on a weekly basis. On the flip side, I think you are going to need to be smart about when to use Dillon, and I think Phoenix is a track where he can overachieve. He finished in the Top 15 here last March, and he qualified in the Top 15 for this weekend's race. Dillon should land somewhere in the top half of the field.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Kevin Harvick ($28.00)
Harvick has been a must-own at Phoenix for a while now, and that shouldn't change this weekend. He has a ton of upside through place differential after qualifying 23rd and considering he has a 2.7 average finish in his last ten starts here; he is going to be taking advantage. Plus, he has owned the dominator categories, and in six starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing, he has led more laps than the rest of the field combined.
Joey Logano ($28.00)
Next to Harvick, Logano has been the driver to own at Phoenix. He won here last fall, and over the past three seasons, he has led the second-most laps at the track. Logano starts from the pole, so he is in prime position to earn points in the dominator categories. Keep in mind that the last two times he started on the front row at Phoenix, he led a combined 106 laps. Logano should be one of the top scorers Sunday.
Ryan Newman ($17.50)
He needs to have upside through place differential to be an effective fantasy option, but that's exactly what Newman has this weekend after qualifying outside the Top 20. He has six finishes of 12th or better in his last seven starts at Phoenix, so he should take advantage of place differential bonus points Sunday. He looks like one of the best values.
Clint Bowyer ($16.00)
Bowyer is coming off a miserable 2016 campaign, but now that he is with Stewart-Haas Racing, he is back to challenging for Top 10s on a regular basis and is way underpriced. Granted, he doesn't have much upside through place differential, but Bowyer should deliver a decent point total based on his finishing position alone.
Chris Buescher ($9.25)
Rostering both Harvick and Logano takes up a chunk of salary space, but Buescher should be a relatively safe way to fit under the cap after he qualified 33rd. He finished in the Top 25 at Atlanta and Las Vegas, and he will provide an acceptable point total for the price if he can do the same Sunday. At the very least, I know he isn't going to lose me a bunch of points.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Kevin Harvick ($12,700)
Phoenix has been Harvick's house for the better part of five years. He has finished outside the Top 5 just once in his last ten starts, and his worst finish in that span in 13th. Harvick starts back in 23rd, so he could easily gain 20 spots Sunday. He has a legitimate chance to reach 60 fantasy points, and I think you have to pay up for him to be competitive.
Denny Hamlin ($11,000)
A tire in qualifying has Hamlin starting 19th, and I suggest you take advantage of his bad luck. He is one of the top flat track drivers in the series today, and he has seven Top 10s in his last ten starts at Phoenix, including four in his last five. I expect him to be one of the bigger movers and one of the safest bets to top 40 fantasy points.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,100)
He has been much better at Phoenix in recent years, and Truex is on the short list of drivers who qualified outside the Top 15 who has a legitimate chance of delivering a Top 5 finish. He could easily deliver 35-plus fantasy points on his finishing position alone, and he has 50-point upside with place differential.
Ryan Newman ($9,500)
Newman has been rock solid at Phoenix, finishing 12th or better in six of his last seven starts here. Qualifying outside the Top 20 gives the potential for 10-plus bonus points, and I expect Newman to ride the place differential category to 35-plus fantasy points Sunday.
Daniel Suarez ($5,000)
I needed a way to trim some cap space, and this spot came down to Suarez or Erik Jones. I think Jones is going to earn the better finish, but since Suarez starts back in 27th, I think they will end up with similar scores once place differential points are factored in. The upside through place differential also gives Suarez a higher ceiling if he happens to have a solid run.