The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Avondale, Arizona this week for the CampingWorld.com 500.
Phoenix is one of the best racetracks to watch a race. Since it was repaved in 2011 the race track has some unique features that force crew chiefs to be creative. Each turn is different so getting the perfect setup in the car has proven to be difficult. The dogleg on the backstretch does not make it any easier.
Drivers must use throttle control to maneuver through the tricky turns. Some drivers have figured this out, while others will look lost on the one-mile oval. It will not take fantasy teams long to figure out which drivers know their way around Phoenix. Simply check out the practice times following Saturday’s Happy Hour practice.
Here are my picks for the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix…
Yahoo Group A Picks
This week’s race at Phoenix will be the easiest race of the season to select your Group A driver for Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing. Every team should have Kevin Harvick as their starting driver. This is his best race track and it is not even close. The only thing fantasy teams will have to do this week is to decide which driver to select along with Harvick for qualifying points.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A…
Harvick is in a class of his own at Phoenix. In the six races since the track was repaved Harvick has four wins and one second-place finish. No driver dominates a race like Harvick does at Phoenix. Fantasy teams should select Harvick this week and move on to your Group B picks.
Johnson will be the best driver to select for qualifying points. He qualified in the top five in three of the last four races at Phoenix. Johnson understands the rhythm it takes to post a fast lap. If something happens to Harvick and you must use Johnson for the race, his four wins at Phoenix are the second-most in the field.
Other good choices: Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano
Yahoo Group B Picks
Finding a driver for Group B this week could be tricky. Most of the drivers who have success at Phoenix are listed in Group A. Fantasy teams will have to decide if they want to use an allocation with Carl Edwards or Kasey Kahne this week or save them for the race tracks which require more downforce.
It would have been nice to have Kurt Busch as a selection this week. Phoenix is one of his best race tracks. Since he is not available, fantasy teams may be forced to use Edwards or Kahne for their team.
My sleeper pick this week is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. In his four career starts at Phoenix, Stenhouse has never finished outside the top 20. He also has never finished inside the top 10. So if you are looking for a driver who is almost guaranteed to finish in the teens, Stenhouse is your driver.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B…
I really wanted to keep Edwards off my team this week, but he is by far the best option in Group B. Edwards won this race two years ago. Last year he ran well, but faded at the finish. Fantasy teams should select Edwards this week and hope another driver performs well in qualifying and practice so they can avoid starting him in the race.
When Hendrick Motorsports provides Kahne a good car he will run up front all day. If the car is not good, Kahne does not have the skills to overcome the lack of speed. I think Hendrick Motorsports will have a car Kahne can drive to the front Sunday. Make sure his practice times are fast before you use an allocation with Kahne this week.
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex does not have the best stats at Phoenix, but he is running to well right now to leave off your team. Truex finished all three races this season in the top 10. Truex started 14th and finished 12th in the last race at Phoenix. He should run better than that this week.
Larson does not have great statistics at Phoenix, but he has only competed in two races. In the first race at Phoenix, Larson started eighth and finished 20th. In the second race he started eighth and finished 13th. Larson should improve in his third race at Phoenix and finish near the top 10.
Other good choices: Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yahoo Group C Picks
The drivers for Group C will look very familiar this week. Since there is no timetable as to how long David Ragan and Regan Smith will be driving their car, fantasy teams should continue to use them for their team and save the other drivers for the rest of the season.
My sleeper pick for Group C is J.J. Yeley. He is from Phoenix and usually performs well at his home race track. It will be hard to justify using him over Ragan or Smith though.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C…
It is tough to tell how Ragan will perform this week. Since the race track was repaved, Ragan had all of his starts with Front Row Motorsports. His old team did not provide him the car to compete at Phoenix. His races with Roush Fenway Racing at Phoenix all came on a much different race track. Joe Gibbs Racing will provide Ragan a fast car and he should be able to keep it in the top 20.
Smith usually qualifies much better than he races at Phoenix. He started four of his last five races at Phoenix in the top 10. Smith was only able to finish one of those races in the top 20. He will have a much better car this week, so he should qualify up front and finish better than he has in the past.
Other Good Choices: David Gilliland and Danica Patrick
Fantasy Live Picks
The race at Phoenix provides fantasy players a unique opportunity to have a high score in Fantasy Live. The CampingWorld.com 500 will consist of 312 laps. That means there will be 156 bonus points available for leading laps. In the two races last season at Phoenix, Kevin Harvick led 488 of the 624 laps. If Harvick or another driver can dominate the race Sunday, it will be important to have that driver and the bonus points for your team.
This is the week to fill your team with drivers who start up front. Do not worry about finishing differential, because the drivers who have figured out the rhythm of the throttle at Phoenix will dominate this race.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Phoenix:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $28.00
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $27.00
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $22.50
Driver 4: Casey Mears $12.00
Driver 5: Regan Smith $9.00
Pick to Win: Kevin Harvick
* Driver prices based on prices at Las Vegas
Fox Fantasy Racing
Five drivers were able to finish both races at Phoenix in the top 10 (Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano). There is a good chance that the winner of Sunday’s race will come from this group of drivers.
Fantasy teams will have to select a balanced team this week for Fox Fantasy Racing. It will be important to select a group of drivers who will start up front with a chance to lead many laps and a group driver who start in the back with a chance to move forward in the race. This will allow your team to score the maximum bonus points for laps led and finishing differential.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Phoenix:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $13,200
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $11,200
Driver 3: Kasey Kahne $9,400
Driver 4: Carl Edwards $9,800
Driver 5: Regan Smith $5,200
* Driver prices based on prices at Las Vegas
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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