It’s the final stop on a chaotic and bizarre NASCAR Cup Series season, as 40 drivers head to Phoenix Raceway for one last race.
I have my own pick in this battle, but it is also important to remember that there are 35 other drivers on track on Sunday. While it’s common sense to have a championship driver on your fantasy team, as all seven years of this format ended with the champion winning the race, it’s actually impossible to have all four drivers on a fantasy team.
This is due to all four drivers being in the top four of all drivers on the market this week. And it makes sense, as low momentum or questions heading into this race among that Championship 4 usually evaporate once the race begins. Even drivers who just aren’t great at a particular track have risen up to the challenge in this format.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, it allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 312-lap race will have a total of 31.2 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack competitors who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on when setting your NASCAR FanDuel roster this Sunday.
NASCAR FANDUEL ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Denny Hamlin ($13,000)
Career at Phoenix: 30 starts, 2 wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 11.8
My pick to win the championship is Hamlin, so therefore he’s going to be my pick to win this week.
Kevin Harvick ($12,300)
Career at Phoenix: 35 starts, 9 wins, 18 top fives, 24 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 9.0
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
Aric Almirola ($9,900)
Career at Phoenix: 19 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 14.9
Outside of the superspeedway races, Almirola is never really a sexy pick for fantasy. But he can go out there and get a solid finish for a team just about every week, which is something I like to see from a driver in this salary range.
In 19 starts at Phoenix, Almirola has only missed seven laps. That’s a pretty crazy number and would almost certainly mean that Almirola is good for 30-or-so points just for finishing over 300 laps. Almirola also has some solid recent finishes at Phoenix on his resume, most notably two fourth-place finishes in 2018 and 2019.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,700)
Career at Phoenix: 11 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 24.0
DiBenedetto has never really wowed at Phoenix, but he has had some decent finishes considering where he’s been at in these price tiers.
While Phoenix is most certainly not a short track, in some ways it drives like one, and teams prepare like it is one. DiBenedetto has success at many short tracks, with a great record at Bristol Motor Speedway and a top-10 finish last week at Martinsville Speedway. DiBenedetto might be able to compete for a top-10 finish this weekend, and, if not ,should at least come home in the top 15.
BARGAIN TIER: $5,999 and below
John Hunter Nemechek ($5,500)
Career at Phoenix: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 26.0
Nemechek will end his rookie campaign in the Cup Series on Sunday. While he failed to capture Rookie of the Year honors and is currently a free agent, he can at least hang his hat on following in the footsteps of his father and becoming, at least for one season, a Cup driver.
Nemechek has had a lot of reliability issues; the young driver has pushed his car just a bit too much at times this season and have ended up having to walk back to the garage on more than one occasion. Still, Nemechek has completed over 99% of his laps in two starts at Phoenix, and if he can stay out of trouble, he may just compete for a top 20 this weekend.