NASCAR – Victory Lane – Ford EcoBoost 400

Victory Lane – Ford EcoBoost 400
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr

This is it, the final race of the 2019 NASCAR season. Weather impacted the weekend schedule with both practices rained out on Friday. NASCAR opted to cancel qualifying and use that time for one practice on Saturday afternoon. Cars will start based on owners points with Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick starting on the front row. The champion, and likely race winner, will be determined between Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick. Let’s get started.

Martin Truex Jr. ($14,000/10,600) Truex is my pick for the championship. Starting 3rd, I think Truex leads the most laps and wins the race. We have seen Truex dominate races when he doesn’t practice well, but he ran top 3 times on Saturday. Barring any late race drama, I like Truex to win it all on Sunday.

Kyle Busch ($14,000/11,400) I would rank Kyle Busch 2nd out of the Championship 4 this weekend, Kyle showed strong practice speed, fastest in single lap and 5 consecutive lap average, 2nd in 10 lap average. Starting 4th, I think Kyle is a must play and I’m pairing him with Truex this weekend.

Denny Hamlin ($14,000/11,100) I think Denny is right there with Kyle on speed this weekend. I give the edge to Kyle Busch, because of starting position and the potential for positive differential points where Hamlin will likely have somewhere between -0.5 and -2 differential points. Hamlin is starting the race 1st and could lead a lot of laps in the first stage. I think Hamlin deserves consideration, but overall I am probably fading Hamlin and Harvick on Sunday.

Ryan Blaney ($10,500/9,400) The strategy I am implementing this weekend is to play two championship contenders, a driver who has an opportunity to lead laps and win (but not in the championship 4) and two mid-tier drivers who can improve on their position by 5+ spots. I think Ryan Blaney is a prime candidate for leading laps and stealing the win away from the championship four. Blaney was the fastest of the non-championship contenders in practice and the price is right to allow you to use him without having to scrape the bottom of the barrel and hope a guy who is starting 30th can finish 22nd.

Kyle Larson ($13,000/10,200) I would put Kyle Larson in the same category as Blaney, but Larson’s higher salary will keep him out of my cash game lineups. I think Larson would be a solid tournament play if you wanted to use him with one of the championship four drivers (fading the other three). Larson has a strong history at Homestead with the best driver rating, the third best average running position, and the fact that he has led over one-fifth of all the laps he’s run at the track.

Matt DiBenedetto ($5,500/7,600) When I heard that qualifying was canceled, I immediately thought of DiBenedetto. DiBenedetto’s team is 21st in owner points but he has been running much better recently. I like DiBenedetto to run in the top 15 throughout the race and finish somewhere between 12th-15th. I am locking DiBenedetto into all of my lineups this weekend.

William Byron ($10,000/8,400) I think William Byron has a solid car this weekend. Byron’s practice times were not outstanding, 20th in 5 lap average, 11th in 10 lap average, 2nd in 15 lap average, and 1st out of the 10 cars that ran 20 consecutive laps. When everyone else was losing 4-5 tenths of a second for every 5 laps run, Byron was only losing about a tenth per five laps. Byron averaged 33.08 over 5 laps, 33.20 over 10, and 33.33 over 15 laps. For comparison, Truex averaged 32.56 over 5 laps, 33.02 over 10 laps, and 33,28 over a 15 lap run. Truex was faster than Byron in all of those categories, but Byron’s times fell off less when compared to Truex. Starting 9th, you really need Byron to run a perfect race to be worthwhile playing in DFS. I think he is a little too slow in the short runs to be trusted, but he is worth considering at his speed and salary.

Jimmie Johnson ($7,500/7,900) Jimmie Johnson has celebrated more championships (7) than any other driver at Homestead Miami Speedway. Johnson has 1 win, 5 top 5s, and 11 top 10 finishes in 18 starts at the track. Since Johnson didn’t make the playoffs, he is starting the race 18th and has a good shot at improving his starting position by half a dozen spots. I think Johnson can compete for a top 10 finish and be a solid play at his salary in DFS.

Chris Buescher ($6,000/6,700) I like Chris Buescher this weekend and I think he can improve on his 20th place starting position by about 5 spots. Buescher was 16th in 5 lap average and 18th in 10 lap average during practice. I like Johnson more than Buescher this weekend, but Buescher’s price makes him more playable for me.

Drew Herring ($5,400 DK only) For some unknown reason Fan Duel does not have Drew Herring listed as a driver this weekend. On DK he is $5,400 which is a little steep, but I like the potential for a massive day in differential points. Herring is starting 37th and should be able to run around the 25th position, maybe as high as 20th if he’s having a good day. This is the car that Parker Kligerman usually races and has sponsorship from Toyota (Herring had been a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver in the Xfinity series but hasn’t run since 2017). This is Herring’s cup debut and I would play him on Fan Duel if they had him listed, assuming he’d be priced in the Nemechek/LaJoie range.

John Hunter Nemechek ($2,000/5,800) If you are going to play a low salary driver I like John Hunter (make sure you double check the name so you don’t play his dad, Corey LaJoie ($2,500/5,200), and David Ragan ($3,500/5,700) in that order. These drivers are starting 30th, 29th, and 31st. I don’t think any of them can run much better than 25th, but David Ragan does have top 20 potential from time to time. I don’t like building a lineup that relies on any of these guys, but I think that they are the best of bad options if) you are in need.

I like building a lineup around two of the championship contenders (Truex and Kyle Busch are my picks), a non-championship contender who could lead laps and win the race (Blaney or Larson), and two mid-tier drivers who can run well and are relatively reliable (DiBenedetto, Byron, Johnson, Buescher). Good luck to all our subscribers this weekend and thank you for reading my articles this season. I have really enjoyed researching, writing, and playing NASCAR DFS with all of you.

Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.

NASCAR – The Setup – Ford EcoBoost 400

The Setup – Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Preview
By Tyler Miller

This week marks the final race of the 2019 NASCAR season. The Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway will decide this year’s champion as the highest finisher between Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin will win it all. This is the last race of the season, NASCAR will take a 12 week break before we are back in Daytona for the 2020 running of the Daytona 500.

Race Distance: 267 laps (400 miles). Stage 1 ends on lap 80, Stage 2 ends on lap 160.
Lineup Lock 3:00 pm eastern Sunday
2018 winner: Joey Logano (started 5th)
2018 pole sitter: Denny Hamlin (finished 12th)
Past Winners: (starting position)
2017: Martin Truex Jr. (2nd)
2016: Jimmie Johnson (14th)
2015: Kyle Busch (3rd)
2014: Kevin Harvick (5th)

Phoenix Recap:
What went right?

We had a really strong showing at Phoenix. Not every driver written up in Victory Lane worked out but overall I am really happy with how things went down on Sunday. Denny Hamlin led the most laps (143), won the race, and scored the most points on Fan Duel. Martin Truex Jr. was ok, finishing 6th, 9th in Fan Duel scoring. Harvick was 6th in Fan Duel scoring, Logano fell back to finish 9th but led 93 laps and was good enough for 4th on Fan Duel. Ryan Blaney was a key part of what made my cash lineup work, finishing 3rd on the track and in Fan Duel scoring. Kurt Busch did about what I thought he would do, finishing 11th from an 8th place starting position, not great, but solid at his 9.5k salary. Jimmie Johnson worked out really well, improving his position 8 spots to finish 14th, 12 in Fan Duel Scoring. Matt DiBenedetto was also a key part of my cash lineup, finishing 13th and improving his starting position. Finally, John Hunter Nemechek did exactly what we needed him to do, minus bringing out the final caution. Nemechek started 26th, was running 24th before hitting the wall at the end of the race and finishing 27th. His 3k salary opened things up in cash games and things worked out well.
My cash lineup ended up being Blaney, Hamlin, DiBenedetto, Nemechek, and Truex, scoring 332.3 and cashed in every cash game and single entry tournament I entered. I also played a single entry quick pick tournament where I played Hamlin, Blaney, DiBenedetto, Bowyer, and Nemechek and finished 3rd. winning $12 on a $1 entry.

What went wrong?
Before John Hunter Nemechek brought out the final caution of the race I was in position to win the quick pick tournament and do substantially better in my single entry tournaments with my cash lineup. Truex had been running 4th and Nemechek was 24th. The way things ended up Truex finished 6th and Nemechek finished 27th which slightly reduced my winnings.

Obviously I faded Kyle Busch which was a mistake. Switching from Truex to Kyle Busch would have improved my cash lineup by 12.5 to 344.8. That score would have paid out marginally better in single entry contests, but for the purpose of cash games there was really no difference. JJ Yeley or Ross Chastain would have been better value plays than John Hunter Nemechek. I don’t think there is ever a situation where I would feel comfortable playing either of those drivers in cash so I’m not worried about that.

What to watch for in practice/qualifying:
Lineup Build
All four championship contenders are equally priced at $14,000 on Fan Duel (they are staggered like usual on DK). Pricing them at 14k allows you to play three of the four contenders if you want to, though playing two of them would allow you to reduce risk by playing three mid-tier drivers instead of trying to pick one at minimum price. Choosing the right lineup build will be key this weekend.

So, Which One? Deciding on which championship contenders to play is also going to be key. It will take a lot for me to move off of Truex, as I think he has the most complete team. If Harvick or Hamlin practice well, meaning if they are at the top of the board in consecutive lap categories, that will likely be the direction I go. Obviously another factor will be starting position. If any of the championship four qualify from 15-25th they will likely turn into must starts no matter which driver it is. We will likely see split strategies in qualifying between drivers who trim out cars for a single lap and drivers who build down force into their car to race well, sacrificing qualifying speed. Luckily we have plenty of data from earlier races this year that we can lean on, though NASCAR has never raced this package at this particular race track.

What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):
Keselowski, Logano, and Larson are the only non-championship four drivers to make it inside the 20-1 threshold. The championship four are all 13-4. If I were to rank the championship four I would rank Truex as the favorite, followed by Hamlin, Harvick, and Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch 13-4
Denny Hamlin 13-4
Kevin Harvick 13-4
Martin Truex Jr 13-4
Kyle Larson 8-1
Joey Logano 14-1
Brad Keselowski 20-1

Driver Ratings at Homestead:
1. Kyle Larson 108.7
2. Kevin Harvick 108.2
3. Martin Truex Jr. 105.5
4. Kyle Busch 99.8
5. Denny Hamlin 96.7
6. Chase Elliott 95.1
7. Jimmie Johnson 94.0
8. Joey Logano 93.8
9. Brad Keselowski 91.0
10. Ryan Newman 85.3
11. Clint Bowyer 84.9
12. Austin Dillon 80.9
13. Kurt Busch 79.0
14. Jamie McMurray 77.5
15. Aric Almirola 73.1

Average Running Position at Homestead:
1. Kevin Harvick 8.162
2. Martin Truex Jr. 8.712
3. Kyle Larson 8.958
4. Chase Elliott 9.768
5. Denny Hamlin 12.043
6. Joey Logano 12.171
7. Kyle Busch 12.607
8. Brad Keselowski 12.652
9. Jimmie Johnson 13.267
10. Ryan Newman 13.368
11. Austin Dillon 14.765
12. Clint Bowyer 14.958
13. Jamie McMurray 17.337
14. Erik Jones 17.433
15. Kurt Busch 18.620

Laps Led
1. Kyle Busch 343 (9.2% of laps run)
2. Kyle Larson 325 (20.3)
3. Kevin Harvick 315 (8.4)
4. Denny Hamlin 254 (6.8)
5. Martin Truex Jr. 209 (6.0)
6. Joey Logano 158 (5.9)
7. Brad Keselowski 107 (3.6)

2018 Top 10
1. Joey Logano
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kyle Busch
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Chase Elliott
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Aric Almirola
10. Kurt Busch

2017 Top 10
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Busch
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Chase Elliott
6. Joey Logano
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Ryan Newman

2016 Top 10
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Joey Logano
5. Jamie McMurray
6. Kyle Busch
7. Matt Kenseth
8. A.J. Allmendinger
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Michael McDowell

Stay tuned for updated content following qualifying on Saturday.

NASCAR – Victory Lane – Bluegreen Vacations 500

Victory Lane – Bluegreen Vacations 500
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr

There are two races to go in the 2019 NASCAR season! Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are locked into the championship 4 at Homestead Miami Speedway next week. The final two spots will be decided at Phoenix between Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, and Chase Elliott. Going into the race, Busch and Logano are in on points, but if any of those six drivers win the race, they automatically advance. Kyle Busch won the pole over Joey Logano, Hamlin, Truex, and Larson round out the top 5 starting positions.

Phoenix is a short race, only 312 laps around the 1 mile track. The first two stages are very short, only 75 laps each. I think the cars that start up front will stay up front and it will be difficult to find anyone who races their way up through the field. Since Phoenix is a 1 mile track, I like playing a few more tournament lineups than usual. I’ve included more drivers to give you options when playing multiple lineups. Let’s get started!

Denny Hamlin ($13,500/10,600) Denny Hamlin had a shot to advance to Championship 4 at Martinsville and it didn’t work out. After a disastrous race at Texas, Hamlin appears to have the fastest car at Phoenix (fastest in 10, 15, and 20 lap average speed in final practice). Can Hamlin and his pit crew keep him up front, lead laps and win the race to advance? I think he will be a top 5 play at Phoenix.

Martin Truex Jr. ($14,500/11,200)
Martin Truex Jr. finished 2nd at Phoenix in the spring and has a strong car this weekend. Truex ran top 10 speeds in final practice, but Truex never seems to be at the top of the practice sheet, even when he ends up dominating a race like he did at Martinsville. From the 4th starting position, I think Truex could lead a lot of laps and win the race. I really like pairing Truex and Hamlin in DFS lineups on Sunday.

Kevin Harvick ($14,000/11,500) Kevin Harvick’s history at Phoenix speaks for itself. The best driver rating, second best average running position, the most laps led among active drivers and 9 wins. Harvick ran top 5 practice speeds in final practice. I like Harvick to have a good day on Sunday, but I like Hamlin and Truex a little bit more.

Joey Logano ($11,500/9,900) Starting second, I think Logano will be overlooked in DFS lineups on Sunday. Logano showed very consistent top 5 speeds in final practice on Friday. He is a little bit risky as I could see him finishing the race in the back half of the top 10, good enough to advance to Miami, but not scoring enough DFS points. I think Logano leans more toward a tournament play, but I think he could be considered in all contests on Sunday.

Chase Elliott ($12,500/10,2000) Chase Elliott topped the board in single lap speed during final practice. His 5, 10, 15, and 20 lap average speeds were all between 6th and 7th fastest. Qualifying 6th, I think Elliott, like Logano, may get overlooked on Sunday. The fear with building a lineup around Elliott or Logano is that one of the Gibbs cars leads 200+ laps and win the race and Logano or Elliott finish 5th or 6th and don’t score enough points to cash.

Ryan Blaney ($12,000/9,400) Blaney’s car showed strong speed over longer runs in final practice. He was fastest in 25 and 30 consecutive lap speed (not many cars ran 30 consecutive laps). He was 4th in 5 lap average, 3rd in 10 and 15 lap, and 2nd in 20 lap average speed behind Denny Hamlin. I like Blaney to advance his position by a handful of spots as he starts the race 10th.

Matt DiBenedetto ($6,000/7,300) DiBenedetto is a lock button for me this weekend. Starting 16th, I think DiBenedetto easily has a top 10 car if everything goes smoothly on track and on pit road. DiBenedetto had the fastest 5 lap average and the 2nd fastest 10 and 15 lap speeds in final practice. I think DiBenedetto can run inside the top 10 for most of the day and finish somewhere in the 6th-8th position, making him a lock at his salary.

Kurt Busch ($9,500/8,700) I think Kurt Busch can run well at Phoenix, but I don’t see him advancing much beyond his starting position. That being said, he is a solid candidate for a top 10 finish for under 10k in salary. Kurt ran 10-12th in consecutive lap speeds in final practice. If he would have qualified somewhere between 14th and 16th I would be much more interested in him, but I think there is a risk for some negative differential points, so I would proceed with caution.

Clint Bowyer (9,000/8,900) I like Clint Bowyer for the same reasons as Kurt Busch, but he has a lower salary, ran faster speeds in final practice, and starts the race 13th. I think Bowyer is a better play at this salary and I like him to finish inside the top 10.

Jimmie Johnson ($7,800/7,900) This is a tournament play only, but I think Jimmie Johnson has potential to score a lot of DFS points from his 22nd starting position. Johnson has a strong track record at Phoenix with the 2nd best driver rating, 3rd best average running position, over 900 laps led, 4 wins, 15 top 5s, and 21 top 10s in 32 races. Johnson finished 8th in the spring and anything close to an 8th place finish on Sunday would make him a great DFS play. His practice speeds were not good, 28th in single lap speed and 27th in 5 lap average. Johnson did not run 10 consecutive laps in a practice where the majority of drivers ran at least 15 consecutive laps. I think overall the Chevy’s are the slowest of the manufacturers at Phoenix. I think the Toyotas have the most speed with the Fords of Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, and Joey Logano close behind.

Austin Dillon ($6,500/6,800) Austin Dillon ran 5 and 10 lap average speeds good enough for 14th and 13th in final practice and qualified 28th. I think Austin can easily improve his starting position by 10 or more, run inside the top 20 and finish around 15th which would make him a great play at his salary. I think this is a lower risk alternative to Matt DiBenedetto with about the same ceiling. I think Austin Dillon should be strongly considered in all contests on Sunday.

John Hunter Nemechek ($3,000/5,300)
John Hunter Nemechek made his cup series debut at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. I’ve liked this kid since he started racing trucks back in 2013/2014. I wish I would have played him instead of Corey Lajoie last week as Nemechek ran on the lead lap for most of the race and finished 21st in his first 500 mile race. Phoenix is a much shorter race, and Nemechek has experience running an Xfinity car with 2 top 10 finishes in 2 races. Starting 26th, I think Nemechek can run safely in the mid-20s and finish the race 1-2 laps down, maybe on the lead lap if cautions fall at the right time late in the race. At $3k on Fan Duel, I think this is the right driver to make lineups fit together.

I think the right build for this race is starting three playoff drivers with DiBenedetto and John Hunter Nemechek. The choice is in using 3 of the following: Truex, Hamlin, Harvick, Logano, and Blaney. Truex, Hamlin, and Blaney fit together in a lineup. Truex Hamlin, and Harvick do not, unless you were to move down from Nemechek to someone like Reed Sorenson or JJ Yeley. I wouldn’t feel good about doing that in cash, but in a multi-lineup environment I think that is something I would consider. Obviously I didn’t write up the pole sitter, Kyle Busch. Kyle should be considered in a few lineups if you are playing multiple entries in case he leads a lot of laps early and ends up winning the race, but I like Hamlin, Truex, and Harvick (in that order) ahead of Kyle Busch.

Good luck to all our subscribers this weekend!

Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.

NASCAR – The Setup – Bluegreen Vacations 500

The Setup – Bluegreen Vacations 500 Race Preview
By Tyler Miller

This week, NASCAR visits ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona for the last race in the round of 8 and the second to last race before we crown a champion at Homestead Miami Speedway on November 17th. Kyle Busch won at Phoenix on March 10th, leading 177 of 312 laps. Martin Truex Jr. finished 2nd, 1.259 seconds behind Busch. Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick are locked into the championship round at Homestead. The other two spots will be determined at Phoenix with Kyle Busch and Joey Logano currently above the cut line at +22 and +20. Denny Hamlin (-20), Ryan Blaney (-23), Kyle Larson (-23) and Chase Elliott (-78) are below the cut line heading into the race this weekend. There’s a lot on the line, and a lot to look forward to this weekend. Let’s get started.

Race Distance: 312 laps. Stage 1 ends on lap 75, Stage 2 ends on lap 150.
Lineup Lock 2:30 pm eastern Sunday
Spring Winner: Kyle Busch (started 4th)
Spring Pole Sitter: Ryan Blaney (finished 3rd)
Last year’s winners – Kevin Harvick (Spring, started 10th) – Kyle Busch (Fall, started 6th)
Last year’s pole sitters: Martin Truex Jr.(Spring, finished 5th) – Kevin Harvick (Fall, finished 5th)
Past Winners: Spring/Fall
2017: Ryan Newman (22nd)/Matt Kenseth (7th)
2016: Kevin Harvick (18th)/Joey Logano (4th)
2015: Kevin Harvick (1st)/Dale Earnhardt Jr (3rd)
2014: Kevin Harvick (13th)/Kevin Harvick (3rd)
*From the fall race of 2012 thru the spring race of 2016, Kevin Harvick won 6 out of 8 races at Phoenix including 4 in a row with 2 different race teams (RCR and Stewart-Haas).

Texas Recap:
What went right?

There was a lot to like about my DFS lineups at Texas, but ultimately it was not a profitable week. Kevin Harvick led the most laps and won the race. Martin Truex Jr finished 6th, 5th in Fan Duel scoring with +11 differential. Kyle Larson finished the race 12th, 13th in Fan Duel scoring, Clint Bowyer finished the race 11th, 6th in Fan Duel scoring with 36 laps led and +13 differential, and Paul Menard was a good play at his salary, finishing 20th, +11 differential, 15th in Fan Duel scoring. William Byron was ok but not great, finishing 17th with a +1 differential. Every driver listed in victory lane except for 1 (see below) had positive differential points. Harvick won the race, led the most laps, and scored the most points, but we still failed to cash.

What went wrong?
We failed to cash because Corey LaJoie wrecked not once, but twice. LaJoie crashed on lap 44 and the team was able to fix the car and get him back out on the track. At that point, all he needed to do was run minimum speed at the back of the pack. If LaJoie would have ran 300 laps, he would have finished 33rd, 34 laps down. In that scenario LaJoie would have scored 38 points, (8 for finishing 33rd, 30 for running 300 laps, and no differential points because he started 33rd). In that scenario I would have scored enough points to cash in all my cash games, falling short in the single entry tournaments I entered. Instead, my lineup of Harvick, Truex, Menard, Larson, and LaJoie scored 292.1. I cashed in a few EPE double ups. I’m not particularly proud of that, so I’m counting the entire weekend as a loss.
I missed out on Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez’s good days. It also hurts to miss out on Austin Dillon’s 13th place finish. Dillon was in all of the winning lineups I saw along with Suarez, Almirola, Harvick, and Truex. That lineup scored 385.1 and won the $1500 Sun NAS Left Turn ($3 entry). I don’t feel that bad about missing on Suarez and Almirola because that would have necessitated a completely different lineup build. I think three high end guys was a solid build, but I needed a different value player. Parker Kligerman is the driver I should have used instead of LaJoie, but we move on to Phoenix.

What to watch for in practice/qualifying:
The Return of Kyle Busch Kyle Busch has won the last two races at Phoenix. He won in dominating fashion both this spring and last fall with over 100 laps led in each event. Kyle is on a 20 race winless streak. Can he right the ship in time to make the championship four and carry momentum to Homestead?

Momentum for Harvick This is Kevin Harvick’s best race track on the circuit and it’s not even close. Harvick has 9 wins at Phoenix including a run of 6 out of 8 races which included 4 wins in a row. Coming off of a win at Texas last weekend, Harvick should have a strong run at Phoenix. Even though Harvick is locked into the championship four at Homestead, there is plenty of motivation to win Phoenix, the least of which is keeping two strong cars, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott, out of the mix.

Can Hamlin Make It? Denny Hamlin is 20 points behind the cut line entering the final race in the round of 8. Hamlin does not necessarily need to win the race, but he will need to run up front throughout the race to earn stage points and a solid finish to make up ground on Joey Logano.

Redemption for Chase? Chase Elliott had a terrible race at Phoenix in March, and it started at the drop of the green flag when Elliott jumped the start, served a penalty, spun out, and finished 14th. I would expect Elliott to bring his A game to Phoenix and run well because anything short of a victory will leave him out of the championship four at Homestead.

What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):
Kyle Busch edges out Kevin Harvick as the favorite at 13-4. Harvick at 9-2 and Elliott at 8-1 would be solid plays in my opinion.
Kyle Busch 13-4
Kevin Harvick 9-2
Martin Truex Jr 5-1
Denny Hamlin 11-2
Chase Elliott 8-1
Joey Logano 10-1
Brad Keselowski 12-1
Ryan Blaney 14-1
Kyle Larson 16-1
Erik Jones 20-1

Driver Ratings at Phoenix:
1. Kevin Harvick 110.8
2. Jimmie Johnson 106.3
3. Chase Elliott 104.1
4. Kyle Busch 103.9
5. Denny Hamlin 97.1
6. Kurt Busch 95.2
7. Brad Keselowski 93.0
8. Kyle Larson 91.5
9. Ryan Blaney 89.2
10. Joey Logano 89.0
11. Martin Truex Jr. 88.0
12. Ryan Newman 86.1
13. Erik Jones 85.2
14. Jamie McMurray 78.5
15. William Byron 78.4

Average Running Position at Phoenix:
1. Chase Elliott 7.583
2. Kevin Harvick 8.478
3. Jimmie Johnson 9.372
4. Kyle Busch 9.899
5. Kurt Busch 11.179
6. Ryan Blaney 11.349
7. Denny Hamlin 11.394
8. Brad Keselowski 12.581
9. Kyle Larson 12.764
10. Joey Logano 12.860
11. Erik Jones 13.349
12. William Byron 13.764
13. Martin Truex Jr. 14.617
14. Ryan Newman 15.504
15. Aric Almirola 17.060

Laps Led
1. Kevin Harvick 1595 (17.6% of laps run)
2. Kyle Busch 1121 (12.8)
3. Jimmie Johnson 909 (10.0)
4. Denny Hamlin 678 (7.8)
5. Kurt Busch 580 (6.6)
6. Joey Logano 296 (4.5)
7. Alex Bowman 194 (8.0)
8. Brad Keselowski 163 (2.6)
9. Chase Elliott 156 (7.1)
10. Ryan Newman 128 (1.4)
11. Martin Truex Jr. 112 (1.3)
12. Ryan Blaney 108 (4.9)

2019 Spring top 10:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Aric Almirola
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Kyle Larson
7. Kurt Busch
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Joey Logano

2018 Spring top 10:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
3. Chase Elliott
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Aric Almirola
8. Daniel Suarez
9. Erik Jones
10. Kurt Busch

2018 Fall top 10

1. Kyle Busch
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Kyle Larson
4. Aric Almirola
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Jamie McMurray
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Austin Dillon
9. William Byron
10. Bubba Wallace

Kyle Busch has finished in the top 5 in each of the last three races (winning 2 of them). Kevin Harvick has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three races (top 5 in 2, winning 1).

Stay tuned for updated content following qualifying on Saturday.

NASCAR – Victory Lane – AAA Texas 500

Victory Lane – AAA Texas 500
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr

NASCAR visits the Lone Star State for the penultimate race in the round of 8 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Kevin Harvick won the pole in dominating fashion, topping second place qualifier Erik Jones by 0.123 seconds. The cars were inspected before qualifying and the lineup is official. Texas is a 500 mile race, 334 laps, with lineup lock at 3pm eastern on Sunday. I like playing mostly cash games for this race (50/50s and double ups) with maybe 10% of my entry fees going into single entry tournaments. Let’s get started.

Kevin Harvick ($14,000/10,400) Kevin Harvick won the pole for the race and has a fast car this weekend. Stewart-Haas racing has stepped up its game recently and I think it will pay off with a win for Kevin Harvick on Sunday. I like Harvick to lead the most laps and win the race. He might not end up being the highest scoring driver in DFS, but I think he will be top 3 and well worth the risk of playing the pole sitter.

Martin Truex Jr. ($15,000/11,500) Truex qualified 17th and appears to be a lock for a top scoring DFS driver on Sunday. Truex ran practice speeds inside the top 10 in consecutive lap averages during final practice. I have confidence in the combination of Truex and Crew Chief Cole Pearn to adjust the car and have it running in the top 5 with a chance to win by the end of the race.

Kyle Larson ($12,000/9,200) Kyle Larson qualified 13th ran incredibly consistent lap times during final practice. While everyone else seemed to lose about a tenth of a second on average speed for every 5 laps run, Larson stayed consistent. Larson ran average lap times in the 28.90s from a 5 lap average through 30 lap average speed. For comparison, Kevin Harvick ran laps from 28.78 through 29.09 from 5-25 lap speeds. Larson’s issue at Texas has been staying out of trouble. Larson has crashed in 3 of his last 4 races at the track. In the race he didn’t crash, last fall, he finished 5th. If Larson stays out of trouble, I think he can contend for a top 5 finish at the end of the race.

William Byron ($10,000/8,000) I like William Byron this week, but not because he has shown exceptional speed in practice. I like Byron’s growing chemistry with Chad Knaus, I like his history at the track, and I like the momentum this team has after a second place finish at Martinsville. Byron ran practice speeds in the 10-13th range during final practice. I think Byron can improve on his 18th place starting position, but I’m not sure if he will be able to break inside the top 10, though a lot can happen in 500 miles.

Clint Bowyer ($8,500/8,800) There is a lot to like with Clint Bowyer this weekend at Texas. I’m not sure what happened to Bowyer in qualifying as he came to the line slow, and qualified 24th. This was surprising considering he was fastest in 10 and 15 lap average and 2nd fastest in 20 lap average (behind Larson) in final practice. Bowyer has run well in the last few spring races at Texas but has finished poorly in the last three fall races (26th, 36th, 25th). The poor finishes, along with the fact that he cost me dearly at Martinsville, are enough to keep me off of Bowyer on Sunday.

Paul Menard ($5,500/7,300) Starting 31st, Paul Menard is a valuable low risk play for Sunday. Menard ran practice speeds of 15th and 16th in 5 and 10 lap average during final practice. I think Menard can easily finish inside the top 20, maybe top 15 by the end of the race. I like locking Menard into my core lineup on Sunday.

Corey LaJoie ($3,000/5,900) Of all the bottom end drivers on Sunday, I like Corey LaJoie the best. $3k on Fan Duel, starting 33rd, I think LaJoie has a shot at staying on the lead lap for the first two stages and finishing in the mid 20s, 2-3 laps down. This is a low risk play that allows you to play 3 playoff drivers at the top end that have a shot to lead laps and win the race.

My core cash lineup includes Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Paul Menard. I think the decision lies between playing Kyle Larson, William Byron, and Clint Bowyer. Good luck to all our subscribers this weekend!

Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.