FanShield 500 Race Details:
Track: Phoenix Raceway
Type: 1-mile Flat Tri-oval
Time: Sunday, 3:30 pm EST
Welcome back for the 2020 Monster Energy Cup NASCAR season. I’m really excited about this season here at Top Flight Fantasy Sports, because we have some great new NASCAR tools to help us dominate. We have the brand new DraftKings NASCAR Control Tower & FanDuel NASCAR Control Tower putting tons of stats, projections, and proprietary grades in everyone’s hands. When I’m talking about grade ranks, note that I’m not talking about finishing position. We also have a NASCAR DraftKings Optimizer & NASCAR FanDuel Optimizer that will be a huge help with all of the MME this season.
And lets be real about this – NASCAR is an MME sport. It’s a lot easier to win money when you play that way. We should be looking to max enter contests and making the most of those entries. I know not everyone can or will play MME, so below I give you the plays I like best every week. This week we make our way to Avondale, Arizona to Phoenix Raceway for the FanShield 500. The qualifying has been set and there won’t be any further inspection. All starting positions stand, but as of this writing, Martin Truex Jr. and John H. Nemechek will be moving to the back during the pace laps.
So last season, the races in Phoenix were pretty boring…single-file racing with little excitement. NASCAR listened and instead of keeping the new Aero package they have adjusted the rear spoiler from 8″ down to 2.75″ and the front splitter has been changed from 2″ to 1/4″. What I’m seeing from the drivers is that this track should race more similar to the spring race in 2018 than the one last year. This setup will produce less downforce and allow for drivers to not feel pinned down when drafting.
What that means for us is that last years data, while still good, may not be all we want to look at for the FanShield 500. I’m going to weigh my 2018 & 2017 data a little more when looking at track history. We can also look at similar tracks, like New Hampshire and Richmond as well.
This is going to be a two dominator race…and maybe even 3. We have 312 laps in this race making it dominator heavy. Even with the new package, I don’t anticipate a huge uptick in passing. At least not enough to completely disregard the guys starting up top. PD will play a part in this though as the 2018 & 2017 race had a more spread out race in regards to starting vs finishing position. In 2019, we wanted those top guys. Let’s focus on 2 dominators and good PD upside as much as we can.
These are your higher price drivers. Depending on the race, and where they are starting they are more than likely chalk.
With the new rules package at the FanShield 500, we want to consider these top drivers as they typically carry a lot of speed. We also have drivers in this range who always race well here. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are names that shoot right to the top at this track. at the last 10 Phoenix races, these drivers have led almost 1300 laps and have a combined 5 wins with 16 top 5 finishes. Both of them had good practices and though Harvick has the better starting position (2nd), Busch shouldn’t surprise anyone by moving up pretty quickly form 10th.
I also like Brad Keselowski in this price range as I think his 14th starting position sets him up nicely for a PD boost. I think Denny Hamlin has some dominator upside as well since he’s starting 3rd. He’s going to have to show more speed than he did in practice, but he’s been racing well this season so far.
I’ll have some shares for Martin Truex Jr in my 150 lines. I won’t be playing him in cash lines though.
8-12k drivers on FD / 7-10k drivers on DK. These drivers have top 5 potential, and will often see some decent ownership.
I think this is where we find the meat of our lineups. Ryan Blaney is the current Monster Energy Cup points leader and has been in every race so far this season. He’s going to start in 5th and to go along with his good practices this weekend, he’s done well on this flat track type the last couple of years. Right behind him pricewise is Chase Elliott who will be starting on the pole and has really showing great speed this weekend. He does have a 3rd place finish here in 2018 and has been an exciting driver so far this season. He could look to dominate as well.
Looking lower in this price range, I’m a fan of William Byron this week. His practice speeds are some of the best this weekend, and his starting position of 17th puts him in a good spot for potential PD with that speed. I also like Clint Bowyer starting next to him at 18th. Bowyer had decent practice speeds as well and has also been a great flat track driver. They should both be great for us this week in the FanShield 500.
I think a lot of people will be riding the Jimmie Johnson train this week. I won’t be one of them. He seems to have made a small resurgence so far this season, but at his age it’s hard to continue that. MME shares will be had, but I’ll be limiting my exposure to him starting 21st. I like Aric Almirola a lot, but his starting position has scared me off a bit. Same boat as JJ…I’ll have shares, but limiting my exposure.
Your low – mid tier priced players on both sites. These guys more than likely won’t win the race, but here we will target drivers who will get us points through Position Differential.
I think we have 2 guys at the top of this range who had better practices than qualifying for the FanShield 500. Austin Dillon will be starting 30th, but has speed that makes him a PD play for us this week. Tyler Reddick showed very good speed despite his 29th starting position for this race. He’s placed 3rd in his last 2 races in Phoenix in the Xfinity cup, so he’s worth the look.
I’m also willing to take a look at Ross Chastain. I think his practices were better than his qualifying showed, but his experience here shows he’s capable of some position differential.
A lot of the newer drivers to this circuit showed decent speed, but their qualifying is consistent with those speeds. I’ll limit how much of them I use for sure.
The Yellow Flags
These are your deep punts – use with caution! They will help you fit the high priced drivers, but may not do much more. Minimize their use in your lineups.
I won’t have anyone from down here on FanDuel this week. Over on DK, I’ll consider Daniel Suarez & Ryan Preece. Suarez has decent history here, albeit with a better ride. He’s historically a decent flat track driver as well. Preece has been pretty quick all weekend, but I can see his starting position being 20th scaring some people off.
Good luck this week and have fun, but remember that NASCAR is an extremely volatile sport. Never go a full 100% on any driver.