The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings Instacart 500 slate locks at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Brad Keselowski ($10,400) - A strong argument can be made that Keselwoski had the best car at Phoenix in the championship race. Without a doubt, he had the best short-run car. Keselowski lost the championship because of a horrible day on pit road.
2. Chase Elliott ($11,500) - His car was hooked up last year. Passing the leader in NASCAR is not easy, let alone passing the leader in the championship race. Elliott pulled a power move to take the lead several times. He was fast in the spring, too, but a loose wheel ruined his chances of winning.
3. Joey Logano ($11,100) - Team Penske was amazing in low downforce, high-horsepower races last season. Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, ran the second-most laps inside the top 5 in these types of races (57%). Who ran the most? Logano — he spent the most time (69%) inside the top 5 in these races.
4. Denny Hamlin ($9,900) - His only low downforce win was at Dover last season and that track is comparable to an intermediate track setup. Phoenix sets up a little more like a short track. Hamlin was still good at the short tracks. He averaged the fourth-most hog points (fast laps and laps led points) last season.
5. Kyle Busch ($10,800) - In the 2018 spring Phoenix race (low downforce), Busch struggled all weekend in practice. The night before the race, the team copied Denny Hamlin’s setup. Without practice in this setup, Busch blindly jumped in the car and went on to score 111 fantasy points.
6. Kevin Harvick ($11,900) - The No. 4 team is aggressive when guessing setups without practice. That is why Harvick won nine races following the COVID-19 break. It is also why they no-showed at Las Vegas last fall and last week. Big swings can be lead to misses. The No. 4 team missed last fall at Phoenix.
7. Kyle Larson ($9,600) - In his CGR days, Larson always lacked long run speed at Phoenix. In that equipment, he lacked a lot of things. So far with Hendrick, he almost won his second race at the Daytona Road Course, finished fourth at Homestead and won at Las Vegas. This is going to be a big year for Larson.
8. Ryan Blaney ($9,300) - An early race wreck took Blaney out of the spring race last season. He finished sixth last fall, but that was behind the championship four. The field was deferential to the championship contenders and their highly-funded championship cars. In a regular race, Blaney could have been a threat to win.
9. Martin Truex Jr. ($10,100) - Outside of Martinsivlle, Truex was relatively quiet at the short tracks last season. His Martinsville success should carry over to Phoenix, but this has never been the case. Truex has only led 123 of the 8,633 laps he’s turned at Phoenix.
10. Aric Almirola ($9,000) - Here we go again. This is a top-tier car starting in the back, so why is it starting in the back? Is SHR focusing too many resources on the NextGen Car? That could be true, but Almirola has been making mistakes. He’s wrecked in the last two races. Almirola has five top-10 finishes in the last seven Phoenix races (one was with RPM).
11. Matt DiBenedetto ($8,500) - His luck got better last week, but it’s still bad. An air gun issue during the final green flag pit stops cost DiBenedetto a top-10 finish. Last fall at Phoenix, DiBenedetto was the seventh-highest rated driver. He was the ninth best in the spring race.
12. William Byron ($8,300) - He had a top 10 car in both races last season. One of the first tracks where Byron started putting things together was Phoenix. It remains to be seen if he is ready to take the next step. Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have been in sync at the high downforce races so far, Phoenix is their next big challenge.
13. Christopher Bell ($8,100) - It’s becoming increasingly clear that Bell was not in great equipment last season. Bell’s already flexed some muscle in high downforce races, but low downforce, short track races are where he should shine. Bell’s strength in the Xfinity Series was short track racing.
14. Alex Bowman ($8,700) - Hendrick placed all of their cars in the top 10 at Phoenix last fall except for Bowman. At one point, Bowman needed a lucky dog to stay on the lead lap. Once upon a time, Bowman almost won at Phoenix while filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last year, he struggled.
15. Kurt Busch ($7,700) - His team missed the setup last week. It happens when there are zero laps of practice. Kurt has finished 12th or better in five of the last six Phoenix races. The finishes aren’t great, but he did score 40 hog points in the low downforce at Phoenix in the fall of 2018.
16. Bubba Wallace ($7,200) - Las Vegas was supposed to let DFS players know what kind of equipment Bubba was driving. A part failure ruined that demonstration. If Bubba’s team is loosely affiliated with JGR, then he’ll struggle at Phoenix. If it’s a de facto JGR car, then Bubba should be able to easily outrace the smaller team drivers running inferior equipment.
17. Cole Custer ($6,700) - The fall Phoenix race didn’t work out for Custer, but he was decent in the spring. His finish is slightly inflated by good cars having issues, but Custer was a top-15 driver. He ran 99% of his laps inside the top 20 and his average running position was 14th.
18. Tyler Reddick ($7,900) - In the spring race at Phoenix in 2020, Reddick started 29th, but he ran 69% of his laps inside of the top 10. There’s a small caveat to those numbers. Reddick only completed 265 of the 316 laps. He found some speed in the high groove, but he also found the wall.
19. Chris Buescher ($6,400) - His Phoenix finishes are misleading, but the end results are what they are. Buescher has earned a top-20 finish in five straight Phoenix races, but his driver rating has not ranked in the top 20 for any of those races. His average rating for those five races is 23rd.
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($5,500) - DraftKings is daring you to pick Stenhouse. He’s starting too close to the front and his average finish over the last six races at Phoenix is 23rd. Unfortunately, that’s where he runs, too. If there are stage three cautions, he could sneak into the optimal lineup because of the dearth of value on the slate.
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