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DraftKings NASCAR: TicketGuardian 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.

TicketGuardian 500

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

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick put on another showcase last week in Las Vegas to score his second win of the young 2018 season. His strength, on the back of Ford's current edge over Chevrolet and Toyota, has to worry the rest of the field this week as we head to his best track this weekend. Harvick has not won at Phoenix since 2016, but his eight total wins give him twice as many as the next closest driver. There’s no doubt that Phoenix presents an opportunity for Harvick to claim an early third victory in 2018. Matt Kenseth was the most recent victor at the unique desert oval, but Erik Jones has since taken over that wheel. Chase Elliott had a strong second-place run that afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to see him through to the final round of the playoffs. Denny Hamlin was the one who dominated that afternoon, though. Hamlin led 191 laps, but crashed out of the race. The unique Phoenix layout could offer Toyota or Chevrolet the opportunity to end Ford’s run of success. Ryan Blaney started on pole here last fall, but just one Ford driver has won at the track in the last nine races. That was Joey Logano in the fall of 2016.

Key Stats at ISM Raceway

Number of previous races: 43
Winners from pole: 4
Winners from top-5 starters: 15
Winners from top-10 starters: 21
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
Fastest race: 118.132 mph

Last 10 ISM Raceway Winners

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 - Kevin Harvick
2013 spring - Carl Edwards

ISM Raceway is one of the most unique ovals on the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series schedule. No two turns on the course are alike, and the hot desert sun can significantly change handling characteristics throughout the race. Each team will be searching for the best setup, which will be a compromise between the different corners as they hunt for the optimal full-lap speed. Side-by-side racing is common since drivers can change their lines around the oval to either make passes or adjust to their changing grip levels. Track position is always important here, and late caution periods likely will produce some gambles on pit road. Two tires have proven to be enough to earn the win here in the past, and that won’t be lost on teams this week. Drivers tend to enjoy racing at the track due to its unique challenge, and that configuration often hosts some interesting battles as the miles tick away.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $11,400
Martin Truex Jr. - $10,900
Kyle Larson - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Brad Keselowski - $9,900
Chase Elliott - $9,800
Joey Logano - $9,500
Ryan Blaney - $8,900

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Erik jones - $8,300
Clint Bowyer - $8,200
Aric Almirola - $8,100
Paul Menard - $7,300

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,600
Ty Dillon - $6,400
A.J. Allmendinger - $5,800


Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $11,400
Chase Elliott - $9,800
Erik Jones - $8,300
Alex Bowman - $7,900
Ty Dillon - $6,400
A.J. Allmendinger - $5,800

With the lower-risk lineup for Phoenix, fantasy owners get both ISM Raceway’s best driver and one who led well over 100 laps there last season in Harvick and Elliott. The pair has been fantastic at Phoenix, although Elliott performed better better in the desert last season. Both are excellent selections this week. Jones has two top-10 Phoenix finishes from last season, and scored his first of this season last week at Las Vegas. Bowman started from pole at this track while substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr., which ultimately led to his current full-time drive. He led 194 laps on his way to a sixth-place finish that time and presents good value for rosters this week given his price. While Dillon hasn’t had a top-10 at Phoenix in his four career starts, he has been able to grab top-15s. He hasn’t finished that high yet this season, but this could be the venue he changes that. After two weeks of tough races for Allmendinger he visits a circuit that suits him. He has two top-10s from 17 career Phoenix starts, and should be confident of a top-20 finish this week.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,500
Joey Logano - $9,500
Denny Hamlin - $9,200
Aric Almirola - $8,100
Paul Menard - $7,300
Matt DiBenedetto - $4,900

Busch continues to skirt the fringes of leading large segments of races in 2018, but with a runner-up finish last week in Las Vegas, he’s showing that he may win soon. He has one Phoenix victory on his resume, and with five consecutive top-10s at the track heading into this week’s race, there isn’t any doubt another could come on Sunday. Larson would be a secondary choice in this position, but Busch’s history at the track gives him the edge. Logano is leading the points and won here in 2016. He led 82 laps here last spring, and his worst result so far this season was seventh last week in Las Vegas. Hamlin will be looking to put Las Vegas firmly in the rearview mirror. He won this race in 2012 and led 193 laps here in the fall before tangling with Elliott and crashing. Both Almirola and Menard have gotten off to fantastic starts with their new teams. These Ford drivers have been surprises early this season, and there is no reason to think either's trajectory will change this weekend. The final spot in this lineup could have gone to DiBenedetto or Ragan. In the end I chose DiBenedetto due to his tendency to give just a little more upside value. He nearly didn't arrive in Phoenix after a sponsor exit, but donations from around the garage made sure he would race this week. It’s a story just waiting for a fairytale ending. Aside from that, I would rank him higher than Ragan at Phoenix primarily due to his positive finish differential.

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.