DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Phoenix
The Sprint Cup Series moves to the first flat track of the season at Phoenix International Raceway.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick ($10,800) heads in Sunday’s race looking for his third consecutive victory at the track. He has been heads and tails better than any of the other drivers in recent seasons, posting a dominating 147.1 Driver Rating, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data. In addition, he has led 925 laps during the five-race span, which is 769 laps more than any other driver. He has a 1.2 Average-Finish Position (AFP), and he has run 99.2 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He will go off 18th Sunday, and has a good chance of moving up through the field quickly and earning plenty of Place Differential points. In addition, 19 of the 39 Cup races have been won from a starting position outside of the Top 10, so that bodes well from Happy and his DFS prospects.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch ($10,000) finds himself on the pole, so look for him to lead plenty of laps from the get-go, earning that DFS salary. Carl Edwards ($9,400) is another JGR driver who should do well. In 23 career starts at the track he has two wins, seven Top 5s, 12 Top 10s and 19 Top 20s while leading 387 laps with an 11.4 AFP. Denny Hamlin ($9,500) is also among the leaders in AFP at Phoenix, posting a win, nine Top 5s and 17 Top 20s with 441 laps led in 21 career starts. Hamlin’s 11.4 AFP is third among all active drivers.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson ($10,300) has been the gold standard at PIR over the years, posting four wins with 15 Top 5s, 19 Top 10s and 23 Top 20s in 25 career starts, leading 977 laps while managing a 7.7 AFP, tops among all drivers. Outside of Johnson, Phoenix isn’t particularly kind to Hendrick cars. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,200) has three career wins at the track, but he has finished outside of the Top 20 in 10 of his 27 starts, making him a risky play. Little E finds himself outside of the Top 10 in all-time Driver Rating at PIR, so avoid him this week.
The Penske Racing cars are worth keeping an eye on. Joey Logano ($9,900) is second behind only Harvick in Driver Rating, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, and he has been impressive running 88.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while turning 156 laps in the top spot. Logano goes off ninth Sunday, and has a chance to add to that laps led total. Teammate Brad Keselowski ($9,700) has never won at the track, but he has come close. In 13 career starts he has four Top 5s and 11 Top 20s, leading 119 laps. He will look to work his way up through the pack from a starting spot of 19th. He has a good chance to rack up plenty of Place Differential points based on his previous success at the track.
Jamie McMurray ($7,800) has managed just one Top 10 finish in five starts this season, but he has been been 21st or better in each of his outings. Over the years Jamie Mac has been so-so at PIR, posting two Top 5s, 14 Top 20s and 31 laps led with a 19.8 AFP in 25 career starts.
SHR’s Kurt Busch ($9,600) isn’t on the pole this week after two straight starts from the front row. He is 5-for-5 finishing inside the Top 10 so far, and he is an attractive DFS play with a win, six Top 5s and 18 Top 20s in 26 career starts at Phoenix.
ON THE DOWN LOW
Ryan Newman ($7,500) is a tremendous sleeper heading into PIR. Over the past five stops Newman has averaged a 94.8 Driver Rating in Arizona, leading 37 laps while posting an impressive 8.4 AFP. On a lesser note, Greg Biffle ($6,500) has had great success in the past at this track, posting just five finishes outsider of the Top 20 while leading 389 laps with a 14.8 AFP in 24 career starts. Lately he hasn’t done much at PIR, but as a No. 5 or 6 driver and salary saver you can certainly do worse.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,300) is also a recommended DFS play, as he goes off 22nd and looks to work his way up through the field. He has 13 career starts at PIR, posting 10 finishes inside the Top 20 with a respectable 17.2 AFP. Aric Almirola ($6,700) has managed eight finishes inside the Top 20 in 10 career starts, and he also is a strong salary saver with some upside.
The No. 21 of Trevor Bayne ($5,800) will go off in the No. 21 spot of the starting grid, and he is a driver worth watching. He practiced and qualified well this weekend, as he looks to finally get untracked at PIR after three previous disappointing stops. Bayne has averaged a 34.0 AFP, but he has a much better car this season and he is a solid No. 6 DFS option.
Michael Annett ($5,600) might be a tempting due to his low salary, but his usage is not recommended. He starts in the 38th spot, just ahead of Joey Gase who goes off last. Annett has a small sample size, but in four career starts he has a 33.5 AFP. That’s terrible, and he didn’t appear to show signs of improvement in practice and qualifying.
Lastly, Danica Patrick ($6,000) finds herself in the 36th spot to start Sunday’s race. Flat tracks aren’t her forte, and she should be avoided in all DFS lineups Sunday. In seven career starts at PIR she has broken the Top 20 just twice, averaging a 27.0 Place Finish.