The penultimate race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season is the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr have all locked themselves into the final round of the playoffs, but there is still one more playoff spot up for grabs between five drivers. The final playoff berth adds more pressure for the drivers outside of the Top 4 and will cause them to make risky moves for the victory, since winning is the only way a driver can automatically advance to the championship round at Homestead.
Martin Truex Jr. ($11,300 on DraftKings) will compete for a Top 5 finish this week. In 23 starts at Phoenix, Truex has seven Top 10 finishes. He starts fifth, was second in first practice, fourth in second and final practices, and had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Truex has four Top 3 finishes in the last four races this season. Due to the momentum he has built all season and his practice speeds, expect another strong result from Truex.
Kyle Busch ($11,100) is one of the most consistent drivers at Phoenix in recent years, capturing Top 4 finishes in each of his last four starts at the site. In 27 starts at Phoenix, Kyle Busch has one win, 16 Top 10 finishes, and 699 Laps Led, which is fourth of active drivers. Since 2005 at Phoenix, Kyle Busch has the sixth-best Average Running Position of 10.9, the third-most Fastest Laps at 363, and the fourth-best Driver Rating of 99.7. He starts eighth, was fourth in first practice, sixth in second practice, and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Based on practice speeds, Kyle Busch will compete for the win.
Whenever the Cup Series travels to Phoenix, Kevin Harvick ($10,000) is always expected to compete for the win. He is the all-time wins leader at the site with eight, and has led 1,484 Laps at the site, which is the most of active drivers. Since 2005 at the site, Harvick has the second-best Average Finishing Position of 8.6, the third-best ARP of 8.9, the most Fastest Laps at 767, and the second-best DR of 110.3. Harvick starts sixth and was first in second and final practices while having the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Based on his practice speeds, Harvick will finish in the Top 5.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,800) has three finishes of 11th or better in his last four Phoenix starts. In 28 starts at Phoenix, Johnson has four wins, 20 Top 10 finishes, and 990 Laps Led, which is second of active drivers. Since 2005 at the site, Johnson has the second-best ARP of 8.4, the most Laps in the Top 15 at 6,524, and the best DR at 111.0. Johnson starts 12th, was eighth in first practice, sixth in final practice, and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Watch for Johnson to compete for a Top 5 finish based on practice speeds while picking up a small number of Place Differential points.
Matt Kenseth ($9,200) has finished in the Top 10 in the last two races this season. In 29 starts at Phoenix, Kenseth has one win and 11 Top 10 finishes, which include two of his last five starts. Since 2005 at Phoenix, Kenseth has the seventh-most Laps in the Top 15 at 4,917, the eighth-most Fastest Laps at 206, and the sixth-most Quality Passes (Passes of cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions) at 539. He starts seventh, was sixth in first practice, seventh in final practice, and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. As indicated by his practice speeds, Kenseth will finish around his starting position.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Denny Hamlin ($8,900) has four Top 10 finishes in his last four Phoenix starts. In 24 starts at Phoenix, Hamlin has one win and 14 Top 10 finishes. Hamlin has the ninth-best ARP of 12.2, the seventh-most Fastest Laps at 265, and the sixth-best DR of 95.1. He starts second, was third in first practice, eighth in final practice, and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Based on speeds in first and final practices, watch for Hamlin to finish in the Top 10.
Clint Bowyer ($8,700) finished 13th earlier this season at Phoenix. In 24 starts at the site, Bowyer has six Top 10 finishes. He was 12th in first practice, eighth in second practice, and fifth in final practice. Bowyer will start 20th. Bowyer’s practice speeds point to a Top 10 finish, while picking up a couple of points from PD along the way.
Kasey Kahne ($7,400) has failed to finish in the Top 10 in his last four Phoenix starts, but that is a trend that will stop this week. In 26 starts at Phoenix, Kahne has one win and eight Top 10 finishes. He has three finishes of 11th or better in the last five races this season. Kahne starts 17th and was 14th in first practice, third in second and final practices, and had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Kahne has looked much better in practices compared to his starting position, therefore he will gather points from PD.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,200) scored his career best finish of fourth earlier this season at Phoenix. In nine starts at the site, Stenhouse has six Top 20 finishes. He starts 27th and was 20th in first practice, 15th in second practice, and 18th in final practice. Stenhouse is a solid option who will finish in the Top 20 based on practice speeds.
Trevor Bayne ($6,700) picked up his career best finish of 19th at Phoenix earlier this season. In six starts at the site, Bayne has two finishes with a positive PD. He starts 25th and was 28th in first practice, 27th in second practice, and 19th in final practice. Bayne’s final practice speeds mark a finish ahead of his starting position in the Top 20.
David Ragan ($6,000) is one of the best bargains this week. In 21 starts at Phoenix, Ragan has three Top 20 finishes. He starts 26th and was 23rd in first practice, 24th in second practice, and 20th in final practice. Ragan will finish ahead of his starting position and score a couple of points from PD.
Landon Cassill ($5,700) is a good choice for a bargain pick this week. In his last three starts at Phoenix, Cassill has finished 28th or better. He starts 32nd and was 31st in first practice, 29th in second practice, and 21st in final practice. Based on his practice speeds, Cassill will finish in the Top 25, ahead of his starting position and score a few points from PD.