NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy Forecast Powered by DraftKings: Camping World 500 Preview

The fourth stop on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit comes Sunday, at 3:30 p.m. ET at Phoenix International Raceway for the Camping World 500.

The MENCS teams hit the track Friday at 2 p.m. ET for practice and then 7:45 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying. Here are nine drivers to keep an eye on for your DraftKings lineup as the series heads west.

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ELITE TIER: $9,100 and up

Kevin Harvick ($11,100)

Phoenix: 28 Starts, 8 Wins, 13 Top 5s (46.4%), 17 Top 10s (60.7%)
Average finish at Phoenix: 10.0

It’s only a matter of time before Phoenix is renamed Kevin Harvick International Raceway. Harvick holds the record for the most wins all-time here (eight), and is on an almost unbelievable seven race top-five streak. During that streak, he has five wins. In fact, Harvick has won six of the last 10 Cup Series races at PIR.

Following an early exit due to a tire failure last weekend at Las Vegas, Kevin Harvick is the outstanding favorite to win on Sunday. He is a no-brainer must-start in any DraftKings lineup, no matter his qualifying position

Chase Elliott ($9,700)

Phoenix: 2 Starts, 2 Top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 8.5

While Chase’s Phoenix report card is not extensive, it is still impressive. In the first Phoenix race of his career in 2016, he started 17th and worked his way up to an eighth place finish (+9 position differential). In his second attempt, he started third and finished ninth.

Elliott is off to a hot start in 2017. Through three races, he has finishes of 14th, fifth and third. He has progressively notched higher finishes in each race, and if the trend continues, he could find himself atop the leaderboard at the finish.

Denny Hamlin ($9,200)

Phoenix: 23 Starts, 1 Win, 10 Top 5s (43.5%), 13 Top 10s (56.5%)
Average finish at Phoenix: 10.9

Hamlin picked up his first top-10 finish of the season last week at Las Vegas following a DNF at Atlanta. His sixth-place finish was the best of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers.

Denny Hamlin’s success at Phoenix started his rookie season when he picked up the pole for his first cup race at the track. Since then, he has built an impressive resume. He has finished in the top-10 13 times over 23 races and 10 of those 13 finishes were also in the top-5. Hamlin won the spring race here in 2012.

Denny Hamlin is currently riding a three race top-10 streak at Phoenix which includes a third place tally in 2015.

ALL-STAR TIER: $8,100 – $9,000

Jimmie Johnson ($9,000)

Phoenix: 27 Starts, 4 Wins, 15 Top 5s (55.6%), 19 Top 10s (70%)
Average finish at Phoenix: 9.0

Jimmie Johnson enjoyed a bit of a bounce back with his 11th-place finish last week following an uncharacteristically disappointing Atlanta race in week two. Johnson will look to build momentum at a track where he has won multiple races.

Johnson has four wins at Phoenix, all within a three year span from 2007-2009. He won the fall race in ‘07, swept the series in ‘08, and then won the fall race in ‘09. In 2016, Johnson finished 11th in the spring race, and then wrecked halfway through the fall Chase race.

Johnson has finished in the top 10 in 70 percent of the races he has run at Phoenix. If his qualifying woes continue, he will be a lock for a big position differential payday.

Kurt Busch ($8,700)

Phoenix: 28 Starts, 1 Win, 7 Top-5s (25%), 17 Top-10s (60.7%)
Average finish at Phoenix: 13.1

Kurt Busch finished 30th last week following a power issue that sparked a pit-road battery change midway through the race. This was his first finish outside the top 10 during the young season.

Kurt has been consistently good at Phoenix in recent years. He has five straight top-10 finishes, dating back to 2014, his first year with Stewart-Haas Racing. He has seven top 10s in his last 10 races, 10 percent higher than his career top 10 percentage. An average finish of 13.1 in 28 races makes him a must-add if he qualifies outside of the top 15.

Ryan Newman ($8,200)

Phoenix: 29 Starts, 1 Win, 9 Top-5s (31%), 11 Top-10s (37.9%)
Average finish at Phoenix: 17.7

Ryan Newman’s finishes in the box score through the first three races have not done him justice when it comes to his on track performance. Newman has consistently run toward the front of the pack, but has suffered through mechanical failures and wrong-place-wrong-time wrecks in two of the three races.

Newman has six top-15 finishes in his last seven Phoenix races. His career average finish at PIR is 17.7. Since moving to Richard Childress Racing in 2014, his average finish is 13.8. While RCR has not been impressive in recent memory, Newman has found a way to out run his equipment. Newman is a solid, consistent driver who can find a way to finish within the top 15.

BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $8,000

Ryan Blaney ($8,000)

Phoenix: 2 Starts, 2 Top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 9.0

Blaney’s numbers at Phoenix mirror those of the aforementioned Chase Elliott. He has finishes of 10th and 8th in his two races at the track. So far in 2017, the two sophomore drivers are neck and neck when it comes to results through the first three races. Yet, Blaney’s salary is much lower. Blaney has shown he can run out front when he starts up front, and also his ability to make his way through traffic when he starts further back. Blaney is still a huge value play early in the season.

AJ Allmendinger ($7,000)

Phoenix: 15 Starts, 2 Top 10s (13.3%)
Average finish at Phoenix: 17.2

AJ Allmendinger started off strong with a third-place finish in the Daytona 500, but has since fallen off. Finishes of 25th and 26th are nothing to write home about for the nine year veteran, but at his salary he is worth at least a look.

In his six races at Phoenix since signing with JTG-Daugherty Racing, Allmendinger has four top 20s. In those four races he has finished 17th three times and 16th the other. Also in those four races, he has accrued positive position differential. He has two straight 17th-place finishes, and his average finish at Phoenix through 15 starts is 17.2. A 17th-place finish for a back of the roster driver is serviceable for sure.

Trevor Bayne ($6,800)

Phoenix: 5 Starts, 3 top 30s
Average finish at Phoenix: 30.6

Admittedly, Phoenix has not been strong track for Trevor Bayne. His best finish at the track came in 2016 when he finished 23rd. But Bayne has been a pleasant surprise since the start of this season, and will be a great bargain play until proven otherwise. He ranks 11th in MENCS points and has finishes of 10th, 12th and 13th so far this season, The move down to two cars at Roush Fenway Racing has paid dividends to its two drivers. Bayne will look to continue his recent success this week.

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