Nascar returns Sunday afternoon for the first of two races this year at Phoenix’s ISM raceway. This one has a little added importance being that the championship will be decided later this year when they return to Phoenix in November. This is the final race of 3 during the West Coast trip. These are new car setups however, so there are some unknowns. The cars here are supposed to be built more to enhance a driver’s ability. This package will be used 14 times this year for short tracks and road courses. It features a 750hp limit. This is the 4th race since the repave, so stats from the last 2 years races carry a little weight. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite plays, starting with dominator options. (drivers who can lead a lot of laps).
Chase Elliot. 9600 DK, 11000 FD. starts 1st. He was quickest in first practice (other then Byron who was on a qualifying run.) Hes led over 160 laps here since 2017. Has a tendency to not finish that great here at the end of races. But, laps led bonus negates this at times. Worth a play in both gpp and cash
Kevin Harvick. 11,300 DK, 12,500 FD. starts 2nd. At one time Harvick was amazing here. He has 9 wins in his career here. He’s the king of saving his tires and tires are king here now, so he very well could go back to dominant form. He was right at 10th in speed in both practices so he will need to be better on those tires to hold everyone off. I like this play but if I’m playing one lineup I’d take Chase slightly over Harvick.
Denny Hamlin. 10,200 DK, 13,000 FD. starts 3rd. Hes very aggressive here. Won this race last fall, I could see him dominating here so I have to mention him. Doesn’t have the greatest practice times though so be cautious. Don’t go too heavy with exposure. Good gamble though.
Kyle Busch. 12,000 DK, 14,000 FD. starts 10th. Wins a whole lot here. Just play him or pray he does poorly if you don’t have some exposure.
Brad Keslowski. 10,400 DK, 11,500 FD starts 14th. He had the fastest 25 and 30 lap runs in practice. Ge could be a great play in stage 2 if this car holds true.
PLACE DIFFERENTIAL PLAYS: (start lower then they should finish)
Tyler Reddick. 6900 DK, 6700 FD. starts 29th. Showed much better practice times. I expect a top 20 finish. Good for cash and gpp but a little more gpp with some risk involved.
Austin Dillon. 7500 DK, 7600 FD. starts 30th. Not the best speed. Honestly shouldn’t be worse then 23rd. Dont expect much more then 20th.
Ty Dillon. 6200 DK, 5500 FD. starts 25th. Based on his history here I think he battles to get into the Top-20. Practice times support that. Probably the cheapest guy I feel comfortable playing.
Ross Chastain. 7000 DK, 7400 FD. starts 24th. The dirtiest driver in the sport, so at some point someone is going to have enough of his dirty tactics to pass people and take him out. But he is probably a top-20 car speed wise. Probably bumps and pushes people out of his way to get all he can.
NOTE: I’m not a big fan of punting this week so I don’t have any very cheap plays that I like. Maybe Ryan Preece. 5400DK 5000FD But if 4-5 guys are moving into the Top-20 then some people have to fall back. He is a candidate for that. You don’t want to punt too deep here because the leader will lap slower cars pretty quickly. You might be able to use Bubba Wallace, 6000DK 5000FD he starts 27th. Maybe he can move up a few and can hit value, but I don’t really trust it.
MID-TIER/CASH STYLE PLAY:
Jimmie Johnson. 9000 DK, 10,000 FD. starts 21st. I don’t expect him to fall much, so I like him for cash. Not as great for gpp, but usable.
Clint Bowyer. 7900 DK, 8400 FD. starts 18th. I think in the long run he could move up near Top-10. Really solid cash play.
Joey Logano. 10,700 DK, 11,200 FD. starts 13th. I cant forget him here. Hes a top 5 car. Just outside that at worst.
Martin Truex Jr. 11,600 DK, 13,500 FD starts 12th. Goes to the back to start the race for engine change. Still a good play. Just has to overcome that and pass teams not as good as him. He will be back up front relatively fast.
William Byron 8300 DK, 9500 FD. starts 17th. Dominated an xfinity race here to win that championship. He was fastest in 1st practice, just slightly, it was a qualifying run however. He still shows good speed an starting 17th theres some room to pick up place differential points. I would have exposure if playing multiple lines.
This is a week to make a more balanced line. Punts wont have a ton of value. Your only shot with punts is that theres several wrecks. Only 12 cars have wrecked out here over the last 4 races, and 4 of them were in the same wreck last year. 2 races only 1 car wrecked out. So hoping for several wrecks is risky.