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Daniel Suarez
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Cap Considerations

Draft Kings: TicketGuardian 500k

by Dan Beaver

The TicketGuardian 500k at ISM Raceway will be the first short track with the new aerodynamic rules package. While drafting is unlikely to come into play to a great degree, the ripple effect of the mechanical grip handling is going to create some interesting moments.

One suspects that in the final rundown, the result at Phoenix will be much like it was at Las Vegas. Yes there will be some interesting moments, but when the checkers wave, the same drivers who have dominated this track in the past will be in the top 10 again.

Instead of making it easier to select a lineup, however, a premium is going to be placed on getting the perfect mix of drivers. This is a good weekend to play multiple lineups and hope that you hit on more combinations than miss.  


Group A: 5 Most Expensive (>$10,000)

Kevin Harvick ($12,800)
Yes, Harvick is expensive and selecting him is going to cause fantasy players to make some very difficult decisions, but it’s hard to imagine winning at Phoenix without him on the roster. Harvick has won seven of the last 14 races, finished second on two other occasions and worse than sixth only one during that span. He does not seen to have quite the same cache this season as he did at the beginning of last year, but he is still managing to score top-fives. Aerodynamics are not nearly as important on the short, flat track as on the unrestricted, intermediate speedways, so the new rules package may not have as much of an impact and the cream is going to rise to the top.  

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,800)

Aric Almirola ($9,600)
Sometimes predictability is better than raw speed. Almirola enters the weekend with a three-race streak of top-10s at Phoenix and back-to-back top-10s in his last two races of this season. He was in top form last fall for the Can Am 500k and finished fourth. If a player chooses to ignore the most expensive options this week and more evenly spread their salary cap, Almirola could be one of the most obvious anchors because he has access to Harvick’s notes at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Denny Hamlin ($9,000)
Hamlin is a little old school on the short, flat tracks, but he has to be considered every time the series comes to them. As late as a few years ago, he was a no-brainer on this type of track. He’s been far less consistent in the past two years at Phoenix with an accident in fall 2017 and a mediocre run of 13th last year. Those are the only two times since fall 2015 that he finished outside the top 10, however, so if he shows speed in Saturday’s practice and fits the right niche, he should be started.

Group C: (Between $8,600 and $7,800)

Erik Jones ($8,600)
Jones was almost perfect at Phoenix entering last year. He finished eighth and fourth in his rookie season and was ninth last spring. He qualified 10th for Sunday’s race, but that tells only half the story. He almost mistimed his first laps in Round 1 and got behind, but remained calm to score a qualification result that is almost stereotypically average; he starts 10th. In five previous Phoenix starts, he has qualified between seventh and 11th every time, so players can expect an average finish – which for him is on the cusp of 10th.

Ryan Blaney ($8,200)
We weren’t overly excited about Blaney at the beginning of the weekend. His last four attempts at Phoenix ended outside the top 10 and it seems that he has been snake bit all year. That’s the bad news. The good is this: The confidence he showed after winning the pole for Sunday’s race has reversed our opinion. He will probably lose place-differential points, but that won’t be as significant for a driver at his level as it is for a Harvick or Kyle Busch.

Group D: (Between $7,600 and $7,000)

Daniel Suarez ($7,600)
Never underestimate the speed of a ticked off driver. Suarez had a much better car than 28th in qualification, but as the games continue in NASCAR’s time trials, he went out too late in Round 1 and could not rebound from a problem on the track. That problem came in the form of Michael McDowell, who Suarez felt impeded his performance. Suarez went after McDowell on pit road and took a swing at the opposing driver. That video clip will be shown all week. Suarez will remain angry about it – and that should be good for several positions at the end.

Alex Bowman ($7,300)
Intangibles are quite real sometimes. Home track advantage might not mean all that much in Charlotte where most of the drivers are from, but a few hours north of his birthplace of Tucson, Bowman has ample incentive to run better than he would on another track. Driving in relief for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016, he won the fall pole at Phoenix and finished sixth. If he avoids trouble, he should get his second top-10 at ISM.

Group E: (Between $6,900 and $6,200)

Daniel Hemric ($6,900)
For the second straight week, Hemric looked good in qualification. He advanced to Round 2 and rolls off the grid 11th. Last week in Las Vegas, he dropped like a stone, but with each passing week he is learning how to put a complete race together. He is closing in on a top-15 finish if he can stay on the lead lap until the end and could fit comfortably in your salary cap niche.

Group F: ($6,000 or less)

Michael McDowell ($5,500)
For the same reasons we value Suarez, we are going to suggest McDowell as the best bargain basement pick. A driver has to fight for every inch on the track and with his hackles up, McDowell is going to do whatever is needed to stay on the lead lap. In all likelihood he won’t go the full distance, but McDowell should only be one or two laps down to the leader at the end. With some attrition, that could equate to a top-25 finish. It certainly won’t cost much to find out if that’s true.

 

Driver

Avg. Rank

Avg. Points

Brad Keselowski

4.33

72.50

Kyle Busch

4.67

64.17

Erik Jones

7.00

51.83

Joey Logano

7.67

59.75

Kyle Larson

8.33

59.83

Kurt Busch

13.00

43.33

Kevin Harvick

13.33

55.08

Denny Hamlin

13.33

40.50

Chase Elliott

15.00

33.67

Martin Truex Jr.

15.67

39.50

Ryan Newman

16.67

32.33

Alex Bowman

16.67

31.17

Aric Almirola

17.33

30.83

Clint Bowyer

17.67

28.00

William Byron

18.00

28.08

Ross Chastain

19.00

31.00

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

19.33

28.83

Chris Buescher

19.33

25.83

Corey LaJoie

20.67

24.83

Daniel Suarez

21.00

22.67

Parker Kligerman

21.33

24.50

Ryan Blaney

22.00

20.67

Ryan Preece

22.33

22.67

Jimmie Johnson

22.67

23.67

Ty Dillon

23.00

25.00

BJ McLeod

23.33

22.00

Paul Menard

23.67

17.83

Matt DiBenedetto

24.00

18.58

Daniel Hemric

24.67

16.58

Austin Dillon

25.33

19.50

Michael McDowell

25.67

18.17

David Ragan

26.33

13.33

Matt Tifft

27.33

12.33

Landon Cassill

28.00

16.33

Bubba Wallace

29.67

4.67

Cody Ware

30.67

8.00

Reed Sorenson

31.00

9.00

Joey Gase

34.00

4.00

Garrett Smithley

35.00

7.00

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.