NASCAR DFS: NASCAR Cup Series Championship

NASCAR DFS: NASCAR Cup Series Championship

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Location: Avondale, Ariz.
Course: Phoenix Raceway
Format: 1.0-mile oval
Laps: 312

Race Preview

If last week's race at Martinsville Speedway was anything to go by, this week's championship finale at Phoenix Raceway is poised to be one of the most spectacular final races in series history. Last week Joey Logano was the only driver assured of a spot in the final four, and the other three championship positions came down to who wanted it more. Christopher Bell added a walk-off win to his resume to advance. Chase Elliott advanced on points. Denny Hamlin appeared set to advance on points as well, until he wasn't. It was Ross Chastain who delivered a banzai move, using the outside wall as a slingshot, to make up five places in the final turns to edge out Hamlin. The move will be the centerpiece of highlight reels for years to come, and it earned Chastain an unlikely first final four appearance, taking away what might have been Hamlin's best chance at a championship yet in his career. This week will undoubtedly focus on the four championship contenders, but many drivers in the field may yet have something to say before the curtain closes on one of NASCAR's most competitive seasons in history.

Key Stats at Phoenix Raceway

  • Number of races: 52
  • Winners from pole: 6
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 20
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 29
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
  • Fastest race: 118.132 mph

Previous 10 Phoenix Winners

2022 spring - Chase Briscoe
2021 fall - Kyle Larson
2021 spring - Martin Truex Jr.
2020 fall - Chase Elliott
2020 spring - Joey Logano
2019 fall - Denny Hamlin
2019 spring - Kyle Busch
2018 fall - Kyle Busch
2018 spring - Kevin Harvick
2017 fall - Matt Kenseth

Phoenix Raceway is a familiar 1.0-mile oval with unique turns at each end and plenty of room to attempt passes. The relatively flat circuit promotes car handling and driver prowess. The lack of an out-of-bounds rule also opens its wide surface to many different lines that drivers will use to accommodate handling or get clear of traffic. Track position is still one of the most important aspects of success, though. The last four races have been won by a driver starting inside the top six, but the new car has proven to be more adjustable than those of the past. Teams that don't qualify well will have more of an opportunity to make adjustments throughout the race than they have in the past. However, the best path to success is to unload from the truck with a fast car in practice, qualify up front, and then stay there by not making any mistakes. Well-timed cautions could help teams go off strategy to gain an advantage, but drivers will need to be in the top five on the final restarts to have a shot at the victory.

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DraftKings Value Picks for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Chase Elliott - $10,900
Christopher Bell - $10,700
Joey Logano - $10,500
Ross Chastain - $10,400

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Denny Hamlin - $9,900
William Byron - $9,700
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,500
Ryan Blaney - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Tyler Reddick - $8,900
Kevin Harvick - $8,700
Daniel Suarez - $8,400
Chase Briscoe - $8,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Alex Bowman - $8,000
AJ Allmendinger - $7,700
Brad Keselowski - $7,000
Justin Haley - $6,200

NASCAR DFS Picks for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Chase Elliott - $10,900
Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Chase Briscoe - $8,200
AJ Allmendinger - $7,700
Brad Keselowski - $7,000
Justin Haley - $6,200

The safe bet for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Champion most of the year has been Elliott (DK $10,900, FD $14,000). He has been in this position before and come out on top. He quietly put together one of the most successful records this season and is deserving of his spot among the top four this week. He won this race in 2020 and has the chance to repeat that in 2022. Hamlin (DK $9,900, FD $11,500) was expected to be there along with Elliott, but spectacular circumstances last week ended his championship hopes once again. Hamlin may have something to prove this week. The two-time Phoenix winner would make a statement by winning Sunday. Spring Phoenix winner Chase Briscoe (DK $8,200, FD $9,500) could also make a statement win this week. Can he sweep races at the track this season? He came up short of being among the final four last week at Martinsville, but could be one of the season's bigger surprises having made it all the way to the final race of the round of eight still in championship contention. AJ Allmendinger (DK $7,700, FD $6,000) might have been focused on his own championship effort this weekend, but last week his run at the Xfinity title came to an end. He is returning to full-time Cup Series competition in 2023, and his shift in focus to that opportunity is just kicking off a week earlier than originally anticipated. Another driver with something to prove is Brad Keselowski (DK $7,000, FD $7,500). Last week was one of the best races he has had all season, but he was disqualified after the race for not meeting minimum weight. A win in his first season of team ownership would be a feather in his cap that is well within his reach. The final lower-risk selection is one that fantasy players paying close attention shouldn't be surprised by. Earlier this year Justin Haley (DK $6, 200, FD $4,500) had the longest consecutive streak of top-20 finishes in the series. Since then he has been a regular face among the top-15. A reliable top-15 finish at his price this week would be excellent value for the money.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Christopher Bell - $10,700
Ryan Blaney - $9,100
Kevin Harvick - $8,700
Alex Bowman - $8,000
Erik Jones - $6,800
Chris Buescher - $6,700

Fantasy players looking to ride momentum will probably gravitate toward Bell (DK $10,700, FD $13,500). He has proven multiple times this year he can win when the chips are down, and that propelled him into the final four with a good shot at taking it all. Bell has five prior Phoenix starts with two top-10 finishes. He was 26th in the spring after spinning. He has a much better handle on the new car now, and he believe he has a real chance of earning his first series championship. A driver with something yet to prove is Ryan Blaney (DK $9,100, FD $10,500). He is one of the most successful drivers this season still without a victory. His car has been consistently quick all season, but mistakes and bad decisions have held him from what might have been a truly remarkable season. A win in this final race of the season may dull that pain for him. When the series heads to Phoenix, fantasy players must consider Kevin Harvick (DK $8,700, FD $11,000). Once the master of this track with nine total wins, he hasn't finished worse than ninth at the track since 2013. Like Harvick, another driver available with a discount compared to normal circumstances is Alex Bowman (DK $8,000, FD $8,000). Bowman has been out since Texas, but getting back in the car before the winter break is a big boost for him. There is no doubt that he will be hungry to get back on track and finish the season behind the wheel. He was 14th at Phoenix earlier this year and could be a top-10 contender this week. Erik Jones (DK $6,800, FD $6,500) is also a worthy consideration. He is looking forward to having Jimmie Johnson be a part owner of Petty GMS Motorsports and part-time teammate in 2023. A 2022 victor, he has been consistently among the top 15 all season, too. Jones has four top-10s from 12 Phoenix starts, but he hasn't finished in that range there since 2019. Another 2022 victor, Chris Buescher (DK $6,700, FD $7,000), should also warrant consideration this week. He didn't have the best Phoenix record until this year when he scored his first top-10 at the track. Like Jones, he has consistently outperformed expectations this season and deserves a place on rosters this championship weekend.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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