It’s the final race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Who will be singing “We Are the Champions” at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday (Nov. 5, 3 p.m. ET on NBC)?
Well, whoever it is, let’s hope he’s in your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineup (if he leads a lot of laps).
Usually the race winner will also win the title, though Ryan Blaney came close to breaking that trend last year. Most, if not all, of the Championship 4 contenders should run and finish in the top 10; after all, they did so in the spring with William Byron coming out on top.
Like last week at Martinsville Speedway, drivers will have to navigate in somewhat new territory, as the tire setup is different from what was run in March. The setup for Phoenix this weekend was used at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Martin Truex Jr. dominated.
Check out the practice results to see who was fast off the truck and whose team made the right adjustments to get faster toward the end of the session. Practice ran on Friday (Nov. 3), while qualifying airs Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET on USA Network.
Some other data that could help you pick the right drivers are historical Phoenix stats and the short, flat tracks run the last couple of years, like New Hampshire, Richmond Raceway and Martinsville.
Before I share my picks for Phoenix, here are the results from Martinsville:
|DraftKings Salary||Driver||DraftKings Score|
|$6,100||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||25|
Overall, these drivers did really well on DraftKings. The only area I missed the mark on was the low tier drivers, as they didn’t perform like I thought they would. But I did have the top three finishers in this set.
According to LineStar, the perfect lineup for this race had Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton. So if you played the top four last week in one of your lineups, you likely earned quite a bit of money, depending on how much you played.
Here’s a quick look at the rules for DraftKings:
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and it decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats from 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they started the race. For example, if Tyler Reddick started seventh and won, he would gain six points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 51 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap they lead.
Here are my picks for the championship race at Phoenix:
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier
Ryan Blaney ($11,300)
Career at Phoenix: 15 starts, 0 wins, 6 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 11.9
I definitely recommend having at least one Championship 4 contender in your lineup, and maybe even two or three if you can fit them in. While all four drivers are great at Phoenix and other similar tracks, Blaney is one of the best there the last couple of years.
Since 2019, the No. 12 Team Penske driver has just one finish outside the top 10. In the Next Gen era, Blaney finished fourth in spring 2022 and second in the last two races there. He also led over 100 laps in each race there last season.
Oh yeah, he also won at Martinsville last week, leading 145 laps to clinch his spot in the title round. In the spring at Martinsville, Blaney drove from 31st to seventh, while last fall he placed third. I fully expect Blaney to be up front once again this weekend.
Kevin Harvick ($9,500)
Career at Phoenix: 41 starts, 9 wins, 20 top fives, 30 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 8.6
When it comes to Phoenix, no one is better than Kevin Harvick. Though his last win came in 2018, he hasn’t ended a race outside the top 10 since 2013. That’s incredible, and a testament to just how well he and his team performs in the desert. In the last two years, Harvick finished sixth in spring 2022 and fifth last fall and this spring.
Now, Stewart-Haas Racing has largely struggled this year, but it seemed to have found some speed on the short tracks. His last two races at Martinsville and Bristol didn’t end in the top 10, but Harvick did gain nine positions at New Hampshire en route to fourth place. He also finished 10th at Richmond in July and fifth in the spring.
Harvick would love nothing more than to end his career on a high note, and it’s nearly a sure bet for him to do that at Phoenix.
Chris Buescher ($8,100)
Career at Phoenix: 15 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Phoenix: 22.1
Chris Buescher doesn’t have a whole lot of good results at Phoenix, but he did advance from 21st to 15th in March. And last spring, he was 10th after starting 26th. So, not really flashy, but he shows some potential.
Meanwhile, at the short tracks this year, the No. 17 RFK Racing pilot gained 10 spots at Martinsville last week on the way to eighth place. At Bristol, Buescher started 20th and finished in fourth, while at Richmond he won after qualifying 26th. That’s a good trend that could continue on Sunday; if it does, it will help your DraftKings score.
Chase Briscoe ($7,500)
Career at Phoenix: 5 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 13.8
Where Buescher is good at several short tracks, Chase Briscoe seems to have found a niche on the short tracks without much banking. He earned a fourth last week at the Paperclip and advanced from 27th to 10th at New Hampshire. He also gained nine spots at Richmond in July to finish 11th.
At Phoenix, Briscoe hasn’t finished worse than seventh in the last three races. He won the spring 2022 race after leading 101 laps, and crossed the line fourth last fall. Then, this spring, he started a dismal 24th but came home seventh. I doubt he’ll end this trend Sunday.
Austin Dillon ($6,700)
Career at Phoenix: 19 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 20.2
Austin Dillon generally finishes in the teens at Phoenix, at least since fall 2020. His lone result outside of that was a 21st last spring; in last year’s season finale, he was 13th. And earlier this season, he started 30th and finished 16th, which likely produced a high DraftKings score due to all those bonus points.
Dillon also has a few good results on some other tracks one mile or less. He placed ninth at both New Hampshire and the July Richmond race, gaining eight spots in the latter event. And at Martinsville in the spring, he began 18th and finished 12th. Hopefully he ends the season at least in the top 20.
Michael McDowell ($5,800)
Career at Phoenix: 25 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Phoenix: 29.9
Phoenix hasn’t been a good track for Michael McDowell, as indicated by his low average finish. However, he finished 13th in the spring and has a pair of 16ths in fall 2018 and spring 2020.
On the short tracks this year, McDowell has a few relatively strong finishes. He was sixth at Bristol and 13th at New Hampshire. He was also sixth at Richmond in the spring. And last week, teammate Todd Gilliland earned a 10th place, showing that Front Row Motorsports still has some pace on this type of track.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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