DraftKings NASCAR: Can-AM 500
DraftKings NASCAR: Can-AM 500

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Can-Am 500

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

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick didn't need to wait until Phoenix to clinch a spot among the final four championship contenders, or so it seemed. He dominated last week's running at Texas Motor Speedway but was assessed a massive penalty and stripped of his assured championship spot after the post-race inspection. He would have joined Joey Logano in the finale, but now sits just above the cutoff to make it after points were deducted as well. So, he now joins the remaining six championship contenders, who are all positioning themselves to do the same. Phoenix may still be a boost for Harvick, though. ISM Raceway is arguably his best track with nine wins and an average finish of 9.5 from 31 career starts. Another win for him would firmly set him up as the favorite at Homestead in two weeks, in light of the major setback from NASCAR. He led 38 laps to top Kyle Busch at the unique desert oval earlier this season, which marked his return to Victory Lane at the track for the first time since the spring of 2016. Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer are the drivers on the outside looking in for this final elimination race. Martin Truex Jr. has a 25-point cushion to fifth in the standings but must be feeling less than safe after two frustrating races to start this final round. Sunday afternoon the championship field will be set for the final winner-take-all race of the season.

Key Stats at ISM Raceway

Number of previous races: 44
Winners from pole: 4
Winners from top-5 starters: 15
Winners from top-10 starters: 22
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
Fastest race: 118.132 mph

Last 10 Phoenix Winners

2018 spring - Kevin Harvick
2017 fall - Matt Kenseth
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 - Jimmie Johnson

ISM Raceway is a uniquely shaped 1.0-mile oval. No two corners are alike on the circuit, and teams will have to run compromised setups to favor one sector of the track over others. The flat surface creates a battle for grip throughout the race distance, which is only made worse by the hot sun. Weather for the weekend is expected to be in the 80s with plenty of sun to heat up the surface. Restarts often play an important role in determining the outcome at this track, which puts extra emphasis on pit strategy and track position. Flawless execution on pit road will be crucial to getting a good spot for any late restarts, while teams lower in the running order could try to go off sequence to work their way forward. The high number of cautions in the spring race kept the field close together, but races here typically feature less than 10 yellow flags. A stretched out field with few cautions will favor those drivers who have quick cars on long runs. So, fantasy owners should pay close attention to the 10-lap average speed charts as they select their lineups for Sunday.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,300
Kyle Busch - $11,600
Martin Truex Jr. - $11,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Chase Elliott - $9,900
Joey Logano - $9,600
Clint Bowyer - $8,900
Kurt Busch - $8,700
Erik Jones - $8,300

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Daniel Suarez - $7,800
Alex Bowman - $7,200
Ryan Newman - $7,100
Matt Kenseth - $6,900

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

William Byron - $6,500
Regan Smith - $6,200
David Ragan - $6,000
Ty Dillon - $5,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $12,300
Joey Logano - $9,600
Erik Jones - $8,300
Aric Almirola - $8,100
William Byron - $6,500
Ross Chastain - $4,900

Despite the heavy penalties following Texas, Harvick still makes for an optimal selection at Phoenix. He has been the best at the track recently and has some extra motivation to succeed this week. Logano should serve as strong support to Harvick in this option. He won the fall Phoenix visit in 2016 and has started inside the top 10 in the last five visits. Jones is also making a fantasy impact at Phoenix despite having just four Cup starts under his belt. His last three races at the track produced an average finish of seventh, but he has yet to lead his first laps there. Harvick's teammate Almirola has been making a strong case to be among the four contenders at Homestead. With two top-10s in his last two Phoenix starts, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him earn his first shot at racing for the title this weekend. Byron and Chastain bring youth and upside potential to the safer lineup. Each driver has one start at the desert oval. Byron had the better result with a 12th-place finish from an 11th-place start, while Chastain added finish differential points by moving forward to 27th after starting 36th.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,600
Chase Elliott - $9,900
Denny Hamlin - $8,600
Alex Bowman - $7,200
Matt Kenseth - $6,900
Ty Dillon - $5,600

Fantasy players wishing to avoid Harvick this week will likely turn to Kyle Busch. With six consecutive Phoenix top-10s it isn't hard to see why. He led 128 laps before finishing runner-up earlier this season and won this race back in 2005. Elliott hasn't gone anywhere either. The Hendrick Motorsports driver is the last of his team still eligible to race for the title if he can claim a spot for himself this week. Elliott has four top-10s from five Phoenix starts and finished third there in the spring after leading a combined 140 laps at the track last season. Hamlin is still looking to score a win in 2018. He finished fourth at Phoenix earlier this season after leading 33 laps. He also led 193 laps at the track in this race last season before late-race drama. Bowman started this race from pole last season and led 194 laps on his way to a sixth-place finish. It was one of his best races in the series, and he should have potential to battle near the front again this year after starting fourth in the spring race. Veteran Kenseth still has plenty of work to get Roush Fenway Racing fully back on track, but small improvements are being discovered. Kenseth has two Phoenix wins, including this race last season. Finally, Dillon rounds off the selections by grabbing three Phoenix finishes of 16th or better from his five races at the track. His average finish is 19.8 from a starting average of just 25.2.

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 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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