The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix slate locks at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($11,800) — The last time NASCAR raced in Phoenix, Larson won the race and the Championship. Larson has always been a good short-run driver at Phoenix, and the race ended with a short run. Not to mention his pit crew and No. 1 pit stall netted him three spots during the final stop.
2. Martin Truex Jr ($9,800) — The 2021 Championship slipped through his fingers by no fault of his own. Truex had the best car at Phoenix in the spring of 2021, and he had the best long-run car in the fall. Unfortunately, the race ended with a short run.
3. Joey Logano ($10,400) — The Championship Race is always controlled by the Championship Four. It’s fine to dismiss lackluster performances by the Cup Series stars that are not Championship eligible. Logano was strong in the regular season Phoenix race in the spring.
4. Chase Elliott ($10,700) — He won the Championship at Phoenix in 2021. Last fall at Phoenix, he was not the best on short runs or long runs, but he had the best balance of both.
5. Ryan Blaney ($9,600) — In the January 2022 Next Gen test session at Phoenix, Blaney laid down the fastest lap time (29.2 seconds). Blaney earned a top-10 finish and led over 30 laps in both Phoenix races last season.
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6. Denny Hamlin ($10,100) — Las Vegas was a big step forward for JGR. The Toyotas looked just as fast as the Chevys and Fords. Hamlin has finished fifth or better in six of the last eight races at Phoenix, and he has earned 15 or more hog points (fast laps and laps led points) in five of the last eight.
7. Kyle Busch ($11,200) — He participated in both Phoenix testing days in January. A month later, he nearly won the short, flat track race in the LA Coliseum.
8. Kevin Harvick ($9,100) — Once upon a time, Harvick was unbeatable at Phoenix. Those days are long gone. One might hope that the Next Gen package could resurrect Harvick’s dominance. That seems unlikely with Phoenix’s liberal use of resin. The racing line has moved away from Harvick’s preferred groove on the bottom.
9. Aric Almirola ($7,900) — Last season, Almirola was one of the best drivers in the low-downforce package. He won at New Hampshire and earned a top-5 finish at Nashville. This season, he is the only driver to earn a top-10 finish in every race.
10. Alex Bowman ($8,700) — Phoenix should be a good track for Bowman, but it hasn’t worked out. Last season, he was arguably the best driver at one-mile low-downforce tracks, but for whatever reason, he cannot put together a full race at Phoenix.
11. Tyler Reddick ($8,500) — He recorded the second-fastest lap in the first day of Phoenix testing (27.5 seconds). This isn’t really a surprise. Reddick has been fast at Phoenix in the past, but he has struggled to put together complete races.
12. William Byron ($9,400) — He did not participate in the Phoenix test. If he struggles in practice, then those laps were valuable. If he’s just as fast as his teammates that did participate (Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott), then the test session is a wash. It might be safe to ignore the test session altogether if Byron and other non-test drivers are fast in practice.
13. Brad Keselowski ($8,200) — So far, Keselowski has failed every test. He has confirmed that his skills have diminished and RFK is a second-tier team. If he can turn it around, then Phoenix would be the best track for his bounce back. Unfortunately, the only turning around will be his car turning around via a spin for the fourth week in a row.
14. Todd Gilliland ($4,900) — Top-25 finishes are impressive for drivers priced below $5,000. In Gilliland’s first two real races as a Cup driver (excluding Daytona), he avoided the carnage and secured solid finishes. Gilliland participated in the Phoenix Next Gen test a couple months ago.
15. Cole Custer ($6,200) — At Fontana, Custer finished 11th but spent some time running inside the top 5. Last week, Custer spun and later his engine expired. This price tag does not match the speed in the No. 41 SHR Ford.
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