Last week at Vegas wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible, it just was. Alex Bowman, as I expected, was a great play at his price point and had real potential to win the race. Ross Chastain was okay, but simply did not really have the speed to lead the race. He was inside the top five most of the day until a late-race restart knocked him out of the top 10. Aric Almirola, while not a particularly sexy play, did enough by finishing 16th to be a solid lineup choice.
This weekend at Phoenix is a little bit of an unknown with the new short-track aerodynamic package. But, luckily, NASCAR blessed us with a 50-minute Friday practice so we could analyze data heading into Sunday’s big race.
So, without further ado, here are three plays and a fade for this weekend’s United Rentals 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
*All prices listed are from DraftKings
Ryan Blaney – $10,300
Alright, hear me out. Blaney is $500 cheaper than Joey Logano and is starting inside the top 10. Meanwhile, Blaney’s Penske teammate was an unimpressive 16th in qualifying.
Both had similar times in practice, but Blaney was slightly better. In both races here last year, Blaney was one of the two best cars on the track, but came up just short in the end. He led the most laps in the spring race but would finish 4th, and the second most laps in the fall race while finishing second. Out of 624 circuits run at Phoenix last season, Blaney led 252 of them. It’s hard not to like Blaney, and I believe his ownership will be lower than expected because of how dominant Larson’s car seemed and the passing differential (PD) upside of Logano.
Chase Briscoe – $8,400
I get it, Briscoe has had a brutal start to the season. But to have a defending race winner who also finished fourth in the fall race here priced this low is ludicrous.
He’s less expensive than Daniel Suarez, who has just one top twenty in his last six races here. Briscoe was top ten in the one, five, and ten-lap averages. Starting from 24th, he presents both PD upside and potential lap leader upside (although, I am hard-pressed to believe anyone beats Larson this weekend without an issue on the #5). I think Briscoe is a great pairing with a top-tier guy like Larson, Logano, or Blaney and is one of the best plays in his price range.
Aric Almirola – $6,900
Yes, for the second week in a row, I am riding AA. Again, he comes in the $6K price range. People might shy away from Almirola based on how he did in Qualifying, but anyone who watched his run saw just how loose he got during his hot lap.
In reality, Almirola was top 10 in the one and fifteen-lap averages in practice and was top 20 in the five and ten-lap averages.
Oh and I forgot to mention: in 10 starts with Stewart-Haas Racing at Phoenix Raceway, AA has only finished out of the top 20 once (22nd in Fall 2019), and he has five top 10s. Starting outside the top 30, provides a lot of PD point opportunities. I will be heavy on Almirola on Sunday.
DO NOT TOUCH
Josh Berry – $8,000
Listen, I think Josh Berry is one of the top-tier racers in terms of raw talent in all of NASCAR. However, I am simply not playing him. He was barely inside the top 30 in practice speeds and was slow on longer runs too. Berry qualified 18th, which may seem like a tempting play because he is in a Hendrick car, but remember he didn’t run great last week either and wound up finishing 29th. There is a steep learning curve with the NextGen car, and I am totally fine with waiting until after Berry shows results before playing him in DFS.