We’re at Phoenix Raceway this weekend, which is a flat, short track that compares well nicely to Richmond and Loudon. Over the years, starting position has always been very important at Phoenix, and the real race contenders always seem to qualify up front. That seems to have happened again this weekend. Kyle Busch said we’re going to have a one-lane race track on Sunday, and if that turns out to be true, it might be hard to get place differential points in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Chase Elliott is on the pole for Sunday’s FanShield 500 at Phoenix. You can click here for the full starting lineup. Also, there were two practices on Friday, and those speeds can be found by clicking here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Phoenix
Denny Hamlin ($12,000) – Denny Hamlin is a flat track master and is going to be a factor here at Phoenix on Sunday. And, yes, he starts up there in 3rd, which gives him basically no room for place differential, but at this track, starting position is so important. Therefore, I’m taking the strategy of trying to make up for the lack of place differential points by replacing them with Stage points. Hamlin went to victory lane here last fall and has three top 5s in the last four Phoenix races. Additionally, he has six top 5s in the last seven Richmond races, which is the most similar track to Phoenix. The #11 Toyota had the 4th-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour on Friday and Hamlin ranked 5th in overall average speed between the two sessions.
Chase Elliott ($11,400) – Yep, I’m going with the pole sitter in a NASCAR Fantasy game that awards heavily for place differential. Why? Because this Hendrick speed is real. Hendrick Chevrolets have been the best in every race since Daytona, and that’s not going to suddenly change on this West Coast Swing. Chase was ridiculously fast in the first practice here on Friday, and he had the 5th-best 20-lap average during Happy Hour. Honestly, I think there’s a very good chance that Elliott leads the most laps here in Sunday’s FanShield 500. For what it’s worth, Chase has two top 5s in the last four Richmond races.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,100) – Looking at similar tracks, Jimmie Johnson’s numbers are pretty impressive. Over the last eight combines Richmond races plus the last four Loudon events, JJ has an average finish of 11.1, which is 7th-best in the entire Cup Series garage. Here at Phoenix, Johnson has ended up between 8th and 15th in each of the last four races. This weekend, Jimmie qualified back in 21st, so there’s plenty of room for him to get some place differential points. I’d expect this #48 team to challenge for a top 10 finish on Sunday.
Austin Dillon ($8,800) – During qualifying on Saturday, Austin Dillon locked up his brakes on his warmup lap and basically flat-spotted his tires. And even though he did a 180 and got back up to speed for a real qualifying lap, the tire issue relegated the #3 Chevrolet to a 30th-place starting spot. Perfect. Now, Austin isn’t a great Fantasy NASCAR pick here at Phoenix–he has just one top 10 finish in the last seven races here–but he’s a better-than-average option for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest this weekend due to his price as well as the place differential potential. Looking at similar tracks, Dillon has an average finish of 17.5 over the last eight Richmond races plus the last four Loudon races combined.
Tyler Reddick ($7,700) – This rookie class of 2020 has been underwhelming to say the last, but Tyler Reddick has been a bright spot. And this week he starts back in 29th, so I love picking him in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Reddick actually showed pretty good speed here at Phoenix on Friday, as I clocked him with the 19th-fastest overall average speed over the two sessions, and he had the 12th-fastest 20-lap average in Happy Hour. Reddick finished top 5 in both Xfinity races here at Phoenix last weekend. He’s a safe option in this Slingshot NASCAR Fantasy game, with pretty good upside if he can pull off a top 15 on Sunday.