The Setup – FanShield 500
By Tyler Miller

Phoenix International Raceway hosts race number four for the NASCAR Cup Series and the FanShield 500. Kyle Busch has won 2 of the last 3 races at Phoenix, Kevin Harvick has 9 wins at Phoenix overall, and Alex Bowman is coming off of his second career victory last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Phoenix is a flat, 1 mile race track with a wide front stretch that will see drivers dive down to the apron causing chaos on restarts. I recommend playing a balance of cash games and single entry contests for this track. We saw some really long trains (multiple entries with the exact same lineup) in cash game contests last weekend. I recommend playing in cash game contests with 100 + entries to limit the impact of these trains moving forward. I personally had entries in contests where 13 of the 15 paid finishing positions had the exact same lineup. Playing in 100 entry 50/50s and 112 entry double ups is the best way to go. The single entry tournaments ended up having lower pay lines than the smaller cash games because of this, so keep that in mind as you select contests this weekend.
There are a lot of statistics to go through as we review Auto Club Speedway and get set for 500 kilometers of racing at Phoenix this weekend, let’s get started.

Race Distance: 312 laps (500 kilometers). Stage 1 ends on lap 75, Stage 2 ends on lap 190.
Lineup Lock 3:30 pm eastern Sunday
2019 Winner (Spring/Fall): Kyle Busch (started 4th)/Denny Hamlin (started 3rd)
2019 Pole Sitter (Spring/Fall): Ryan Blaney (finished 3rd)/Kyle Busch (finished 2nd)
Past Winners: (Starting Position)
2018: Kevin Harvick (10th)/Kyle Busch (6th)
2017: Ryan Newman (22nd)/Matt Kenseth (7th)
2016: Kevin Harvick (18th)/Joey Logano (4th)
2015: Kevin Harvick (4th)/Dale Earnhardt Jr. (3rd)

Auto Club Recap:
What went right?

Alex Bowman was clearly the best play from Victory Lane last weekend. Bowman led 110 laps and won the race, scoring the most points in DFS. Martin Truex Jr. was an obvious play that worked out fine for cash games because he was so highly owned. Truex led 3 laps and finished 14th with a +24 differential. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott all scored more points than Truex at similar salaries. Tyler Reddick was a good value play on Sunday. Reddick finished 11th with a +8 differential, scoring the 9th most points on Fan Duel. Jimmie Johnson ended up being an ok play, mostly because of his salary. Johnson led 10 laps and finished the race 7th with a -5 differential, scoring the 10th most points on Fan Duel.

Overall, my Fan Duel lineup did not do well. I played Bowman, Truex, Logano, Blaney, and LaJoie for a total of 256.8. My Fan Duel Quick Pick lineup of Logano, Blaney, Johnson, Bowman, and LaJoie scored 250.

My Draft Kings lineup did ok, mostly because I had to fade Blaney because of salary constraints. I played Logano, Truex, Bowman, Dillon, Reddick, and LaJoie on DK and scored 268.25 and cashed in some of the contests I entered.

Side note: We did really well in the Xfinity Series on Saturday. I will not be able to do that every week and if I don’t have time to do the research I will not post a lineup because I don’t like to play anything if I don’t have time to analyze stats and watching practice and qualifying. I will share a lineup in Discord when I am able to put the work in for Xfinity and Trucks, but just as a disclaimer, I will not be able to do that every week.

What went wrong?
The biggest mistake last weekend was a complete fade of Denny Hamlin. I did not think the Gibbs cars were fast enough to compete on Sunday, and they weren’t, but they were good enough to score a lot of DFS points from bad starting positions. I should have realized that.I was so sure that Joey Logano was going to have a good day that the combination of Logano’s mediocre performance and Hamlin scoring +22 differential killed my lineup. Erik Jones was another great value play at $8,800 and starting 29th that I completely missed. The lesson here is that while the Gibbs cars are slightly off on intermediate race tracks, they are close enough that they cannot be ignored when they start mid-pack.

What to watch for in practice and qualifying:
Does Kyle dominate? Kyle Busch has won 2 of the last 3 races at Phoenix. More impressively, Kyle has finished top 4 in 8 of his last 9 races at this track and has led over 100 laps in 4 of those races. Is there any reason to think that Kyle won’t continue his dominating performance this weekend.

What do we do with Harvick? Kevin Harvick has not been great so far this year. He was good on short runs at Las Vegas but looked lost at Auto Club last weekend. Harvick has 9 wins at Phoenix, he has 1,595 laps led and completed 99.8% (10589 of 10611) of laps at this track. Harvick has not finished outside the top 10 at Phoenix since he moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Can we play Harvick with Kyle Busch or are there better options at the top of the sheet this weekend?

What Vegas thinks (Opening lines via Penn National Gaming)
Kyle Busch is favored once again. For the first time in my memory Blaney is favored above teammates Logano and Keselowski.
Kyle Busch 4-1
Martin Truex Jr. 11-2
Kevin Harvick 6-1
Denny Hamlin 15-2
Ryan Blaney 10-1
Chase Elliott 11-1
Joey Logano 11-1
Brad Keselowski 12-1
Alex Bowman 16-1
Jimmie Johnson 16-1
Kyle Larson 20-1

Driver Ratings Phoenix:
1. Kevin Harvick 110.5
2. Jimmie Johnson 105.2
3. Kyle Busch 104.7
4. Chase Elliott 102.5
5. Denny Hamlin 98.9
6. Kurt Busch 95.0
7. Brad Keselowski 92.8
8. Kyle Larson 92.5
9. Ryan Blaney 91.9
10. Joey Logano 90.0
11. Martin Truex Jr. 88.8
12. Erik Jones 85.9
13. Ryan Newman 85.7
14. William Byron 78.9
15. Clint Bowyer 77.9

Average Running Position:
1. Kevin Harvick 8.418
2. Chase Elliott 9.113
3. Jimmie Johnson 9.603
4. Kyle Busch 9.646
5. Ryan Blaney 10.583
6. Denny Hamlin 11.065
7. Kurt Busch 11.192
8. Kyle Larson 12.238
9. Brad keselowski 12.469
10. Joey Logano 12.486
11. Erik Jones 13.008
12. William Byron 13.795
13. Martin Truex Jr. 14.301
14. Ryan Newman 16.934
15. Aric Almirola 16.934

Laps Led
1. Kevin Harvick 1595 (17% of all laps run)
2. Kyle Busch 1190 (13.2)
3. Jimmie Johnson 909 (9.7)
4. Denny Hamlin 820 (9.1)
5. Kurt Busch 584 (6.5)
6. Joey Logano 389 (5.7)
7. Alex Bowman 194 (7.1)
8. Brad Keselowski 166 (2.5)
9. Chase Elliott 156 (6.2)
10. Ryan Newman 128 (1.4)
11. Martin Truex Jr. 112 (1.3)
12. Ryan Blaney 108 (4.3)

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

2019 Fall Top 10
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kyle Busch
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Kyle Larson
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Erik Jones
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Joey Logano
10. Brad Keselowski

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

Stay Tuned for updated content Saturday night.

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