The races at Phoenix International Raceway tend to play out as “follow the leader” type of events. Typically we see the drivers that start up front in the desert finish up there as well, although if you remember back to the race in March, we had quite a few “movers” when it was all said and done. Don’t forget, though, that the reason for that was because of all of the different pitting strategies employed at the end of the race. Looking at the driver ratings in that race, 8 of the top 11 cars that day started 9th or better. So, in other words, don’t be afraid to focus more on finish points in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend. In addition to Phoenix being somewhat difficult to pass at, Sunday’s Can-Am 500(k) is a pretty short race, as it is only a scheduled 312 miles.
Give me a follow on Twitter: @FanRacingOnline
My team points last week (Texas 2): 222
Overall team standings: 15th
Total team points for the season: 6,244
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for the 2017 Can-Am 500(k) Race
Kevin Harvick ($12,300) – Any time we come to Phoenix, Kevin Harvick is a threat to win. I mean, the guy has six wins in the last ten races at this track along with a runner-up finish in a rain-shortened race. With that being said, the rest of the Cup Series garage has caught up to Harvick at this track, and he actually hasn’t led a lap here in the last two races. He’s still finished 4th and 6th in those two events, but he’s definitely not as dominant. With that being said, the #4 team believes that they may have something figured out this weekend, and their speed has been all weekend long; Harvick had the fastest lap in both practices sessions here on Saturday and ranked 6th-best in ten-lap average in Happy Hour. Harvick will roll off the grid from 6th in Sunday’s Can-Am 500(k), so he doesn’t have a lot of room for place differential points, but he should be a lock for a top 5 finish.
Kyle Busch ($11,400) – Kyle Busch qualified 8th for this weekend’s race at Phoenix, and because of that he should be close to a lock for your FOX Fantasy Auto roster. The #18 Toyota has consistently been one of the best cars over the last two years at this race track, and in the last four races at this track, Rowdy’s worst finish has been 4th. This weekend, Busch has shown top 5 speed in all three practice sessions, and he ranked 3rd- and 2nd-best when it came to ten-lap average during the two practices on Saturday. The only thing to be mildly concerned about when it comes to picking Kyle Busch this weekend is the fact that he has been entirely hit or miss in this year’s playoffs, but the #18 Toyota is good enough to win on Sunday, and Rowdy is a good enough driver at this track to get that done.
Kurt Busch ($9,800) – The other Busch brother is pretty good at this track, too. Yeah, Kurt finished 25th in the first Phoenix race this season, but that’s actually kind of impressive because this #41 team had all kinds of issues in that race, and had to replace their battery multiple times during the event. Heading into that race, though, Kurt had a five-race streak of top 10 finishes here at Phoenix International Raceway, and it wouldn’t be overly surprising to see the #41 Ford wind up near there this weekend as well. Kurt was 9th-fastest in Practice #2 here on Saturday before posting the 16th-fastest lap in Happy Hour. His teammates, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, had plenty of speed in that final session, though, and that should help Busch on Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($8,800) – Junior is a bit over-priced in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend but he should be the highest-scoring driver under $9,000. Phoenix is a really good track for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and really this #88 team overall; don’t forget that Alex Bowman dominated this race last year while driving the #88 Chevrolet. This weekend, Earnhardt qualified 14th for Sunday’s Can-Am 500(k), which gives him some room to move up and get some place differential points. During the practice sessions on Saturday, Junior was 7th- and 11th-fastest, and he ended up with the 5th- and 10th-best ten-lap averages as well. Earnhardt has finished 14th or better in seven of his last eight starts here at Phoenix and five of those were top 5 finishes. Momentum-wise, this #88 team has finished 12th or better in five of the last six Cup Series races overall, and they brought another good car to the track this weekend.
Other viable options: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Matt Kenseth
FOX Fantasy Auto Fade Option
Ryan Blaney ($9,600) – This isn’t a full-out fade, but don’t get overly excited just because Ryan Blaney is starting on the pole this weekend. Yes, track position means a lot at Phoenix International Raceway, but you also have to have a pretty good long run car if you want to stay up front. And the #21 Ford hasn’t show much long run speed at all this weekend. Meanwhile, the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin looks like a legitimate threat to win, and it’s possible that he won’t even led Blaney lead the first lap. Ryan finished 10th and 8th in his first two Cup Series starts here at Phoenix last year and probably would have finished around 12th in the March race this season if it wasn’t for a late speeding penalty. When it comes to FOX Fantasy Auto, Ryan Blaney will probably score around 30 fantasy points on Sunday. Do you want to allocate $9,600 of your salary cap to that low of number? I’ll take my chances and try to spend that money more wisely with someone else.