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DraftKings NASCAR: Can-Am 500

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Can-Am 500

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

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick probably had this week’s race circled on his calendar as being his best shot at winning to advance to the championship finale, but he completed that quest a week early with his first victory at Texas Motor Speedway. Championship favorite Martin Truex Jr. also had a good afternoon at the Texas oval and claimed his spot in Miami by virtue of points. Those two drivers join Kyle Busch, which leaves just a single slot available for someone to race for a championship in Miami. Five drivers will be vying for that spot, and Brad Keselowski currently holds it with a nine-point lead over Denny Hamlin. The two Chevrolets of Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott sit in must-win situations to keep their fights alive. Ryan Newman won at Phoenix earlier this season in an upset victory earned by the decision not to pit for new tires on a late-race restart. The win got him into the playoffs, but his championship effort has already ended. Kevin Harvick is the current master of this oval. The 2017 championship finalist has eight wins at the circuit with just one finish outside of the top 10 in the last 11 starts.

Key Stats at Phoenix International Raceway

Number of previous races: 42
Winners from pole: 4
Winners from top-5 starters: 15
Winners from top-10 starters: 20
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
Fastest race: 118.132 mph

Last 10 Phoenix Winners

2017 spring - Ryan Newman
2016 fall - Joey Logano
2016 spring - Kevin Harvick
2015 fall - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015 spring - Kevin Harvick
2014 fall - Kevin Harvick
2014 spring - Kevin Harvick
2013 fall - Kevin Harvick
2013 spring - Carl Edwards
2012 fall - Kevin Harvick

Phoenix International Raceway is a unique 1.0-mile oval that races similarly to a short track or road course. The unique turns force teams to find a compromise that allows their car to be fast throughout an entire lap but not as fast as it could otherwise be in a given section. Newman proved earlier this year that track position can heavily factor into the race’s outcome and staying out on old tires in favor of a top spot for a late restart was what gave him the win. The track surface can get slippery as the afternoon grows hotter under the desert sun, and drivers pushing their equipment to limits can suffer tire failures. Joey Logano suffered that fate in March. Restarts with more than just a handful of laps until the finish this week likely would favor drivers with fresh tires versus what we saw with Newman, though. Still, everyone will have their eyes on Harvick. If he streaks away from the field it will leave the five remaining championship contenders to battle tooth and nail for every position on track as they work to join the championship festivities in Miami.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $11,300
Kyle Busch - $11,100
Kevin Harvick - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Brad Keselowski - $9,500
Chase Elliott - $9,300
Joey Logano - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Erik Jones - $8,300
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,000
Kurt Busch - $7,900
Daniel Suarez - $7,500

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ryan Newman - $7,100
Ty Dillon - $6,900
Chris Buescher - $6,600
Aric Almirola - $6,100

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $10,000
Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Chase Elliott - $9,300
Kurt Busch - $7,900
Daniel Suarez - $7,500
Matt DiBenedetto - $5,500

It might go without saying that this week’s lower-risk lineup option would be headed by Harvick, and so it is. The eight-time winner at the track is fresh off a triumph last week as well, which should serve to boost his potential this week as well. Johnson has had a rough road in the playoffs to this point, but yet he’s still present. He has a habit of getting the job done regardless of the circumstances, and four track victories show he is no Phoenix slouch. His teammate Elliott also wouldn’t be a huge surprise were he to find Victory Lane this week. The cards are stacked against him moving on to Homestead if he doesn’t, and his worst finish in three tries at the track is only 12th. Kurt Busch has two top-10 finishes in the last five races. He is a consistent top-10 Phoenix finisher, and this would be a week fantasy owners should be expecting that of him. Suarez is continuing to deliver consistent top-15 finishes, and he finished seventh after starting 27th at Phoenix earlier this year. To finish the roster DiBenedetto brings five Phoenix starts without a finish worse than where he qualified. That implies valuable points for fantasy owners on a weekend where he should be expected to deliver a top-25 finish.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,100
Brad Keselowski - $9,500
Denny Hamlin - $8,900
Erik jones - $8,300
Aric Almirola - $6,100
Landon Cassill - $5,700

Kyle Busch had a rough day at Texas last week but he heads the higher-risk lineup at Phoenix. He has one victory at the track along with four consecutive top-five finishes heading into this edition. Keselowski is in a good spot to advance to the championship finale if none of his rivals wins on Sunday, but he also will be gunning for that win. He finished fifth here earlier this season. One of those rivals is Hamlin. Hamlin has top-10 finishes in each of the last five races, and finished 10th after starting 19th at Phoenix in the spring. Jones also had a top-10 finish that day and continues to offer fantasy owners upside potential with a little more risk than other options. Next year will see Almirola move to the No. 10 car, and his average Phoenix finish from 13 career starts is 17.6. A top-15 finish would be a good day for him and fantasy owners this week. Finally, Cassill is another option that offers fantasy owners positive finish differential points. If the chips fall in his favor he could even walk away with a top-25 on Sunday.

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.