This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
Xfinity Series Championship Race
Location: Avondale, Ariz.
Course: Phoenix Raceway
Format: 1.0-mile oval
The drivers and teams of the NASCAR Xfinity Series return to Phoenix Raceway this week for the season finale, which features a championship showdown between Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric and AJ Allmendinger. All four drivers only secured their spots in the finale one week ago at Martinsville, with Gragson taking the victory. The win was his third of the season. Cindric will not only be gunning to defend his championship from last year, but he will also be looking to score his third consecutive Phoenix victory before heading to the Cup Series next season. Both he and Allmendinger head into this final race with five wins each. Hemric is the only driver of the four who has not won this season. In fact, he hasn't won yet in NASCAR. Under the right circumstances it would be possible for him to become a series champion without ever visiting Victory Lane! No matter what happens, fantasy managers should expect a hotly contested race Saturday to close out the 2021 season.
Key Stats at Phoenix Raceway
- Number of races: 39
- Winners from pole: 10
- Winners from top-5 starters: 33
- Winners from top-10 starters: 35
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 1
- Fastest race: 116.317 mph
Previous 10 Phoenix Winners
2021 spring - Austin Cindric
2020 fall - Austin Cindric
2020 spring - Brandon Jones
2019 fall - Justin Allgaier
2019 spring - Kyle Busch
2018 fall - Christopher Bell
2018 spring - Brad Keselowski
2017 fall - William Byron
2017 spring - Justin Allgaier
2016 fall - Kyle Busch
Phoenix Raceway is a relatively flat 1.0-mile oval with a unique shape that encourages close racing throughout the field. The circuit races like a short track, or even a road course, and no two turns are alike. The uniqueness of each turn requires teams to balance their settings carefully. Mechanical grip will be what everyone is searching for, and managing tire wear along with track position will be the key to being competitive throughout the distance. As expected given the circuit's layout, Phoenix is a track position circuit. Pitting for four tires under caution will be the preference, but two-tire and fuel-only stops later in the race could upset the running order. Teams behind on speed will be forced to try different things as the finish approaches in order to give their drivers a chance to contend for the race win or to lift the championship trophy.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Cindric picked up his 2021 season right where he left off in 2020 and held station throughout the year as a favorite to repeat his championship. He has won the last two Phoenix stops and could exit the Xfinity Series as a back-to-back champion as he heads to Cup next season. Jeb Burton enters the final race 10th in the standings and looking to recover from a terrible Martinsville visit. His best Phoenix finish came this spring when he finished sixth. Despite running just the second half of the season, Sam Mayer has made his mark in the series. He finished fourth last week at Martinsville, which is one of his six top-10 finishes from 17 starts. Jeremy Clements has scored his eighth top-10 of the season last week and finished 10th in his last two visits to this track. Brandon Brown found his way to Victory Lane at Talladega for his first series win. He has five career starts at Phoenix with a best finish of third this spring. Finishing out the lower-risk lineup is Jade Buford, who has three top-20s from the last five races and also finished 20th at this track in March.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
John Hunter Nemechek and the No. 54 team will not be sitting back watching the four championship finalists vie for the title. The owner's championship will also be decided this weekend, and no team has been more successful in 2021 than the No. 54 car. Nemechek was last in the car at Texas where he drove to the win with 92 laps led. He will also have the advantage of racing for the Truck Series championship on the same track Friday night. Hemric could make history by claiming the series championship without having won a race. If he finishes highest among the championship contenders, he gets the title whether he visits Victory Lane or not. Hemric has come on strongly in the playoffs and led 44 laps at Phoenix earlier this season. Michael Annett is also looking for one final win before retiring from full-time competition after this week. He has seven top-10s from 18 Phoenix visits. Riley Herbst finished 10th last week at Martinsville, his third consecutive top-15. He also has three Phoenix finishes of 11th or better, and scored his best finish of fourth at the track this season. Alex Labbe picked up his third top-10 of the year last week and will hope to leverage that momentum to land his second Phoenix top-20 this week. Tommy Joe Martins should be another top-20 contender this week having finished 17th at the track in the spring. He finished there twice in eight series appearances at the track.