Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. who won all three stages of the race this past weekend at Las Vegas. Now, the stages don’t really seem to mean much at this point of the season other than to confuse the fans on the points. I hope NASCAR can either explain it better to us or that something starts happening to make the stages more exciting for the fans. I haven’t really seen anything yet that is supposed to make the races more exciting from the beginning to the end by adding the stages. Let me know what you all think.
CAMPING WORLD 500
The series stays out west for the second of three races on that side of the nation as they drivers head to the Phoenix International Raceway for the running of the Camping World 500. This is a one-mile, fairly flat, oval track and I want to see how these stages play out here. Is the short track going to make it more or less exciting or won’t it make any difference again?
Kevin Harvick: Kevin is my pick to win this race after a disappointing outcome at Las Vegas last week after he blew a tire and hit the wall and was done for the day. Coming away with a 38th place finish. Kevin has won six of the last ten races at this track and finished runner-up in two of the other four races. Plus he had a fourth place finish which gives him nine top four finishes in his last ten starts at Phoenix. He is a must have this week.
Kyle Busch: Kyle only win here came back in 2005. However, he has finished in the top four in his last three starts including a runner-up finish last fall. I think this is the type of track and racing that brings out the best in Kyle. He gets to use his bumper to move people out of his way if they won’t let him get by when he has a faster car and he likes that. He won’t hold it against someone for moving him on this type of track either if they can catch him.
Joey Logano: Joey won the race here last November and has finished in the top ten in six of his last seven starts at Phoenix. He ran well last week at Las Vegas and came away with another top five finish in that race. The Ford teams have looked good so far this season on the longer tracks and now we will see how they fair on the short tracks. I look for Joey to qualify well and lead some laps in this race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale missed this race last fall, but he won the fall race here back in the fall of 2015. He has also finished in the top ten in six of his last seven starts at this track. He looked pretty good last week, but I think this is the track where he will have something to say down the final stretch of the race. This team could pick up their first win of the season on Sunday.
Kurt Busch: Kurt is another driver who has run consistently well at Phoenix lately. He has finished in the top seven in his last five starts here. Last week he got a little down on himself and his team during the race and that has to stop if he wants to improve and have a chance to win another championship. Not everything is going to go in our favor all of the time, but as a driver you need to be a leader and show the rest of your team that you are a fighter and aren’t going to give up.
Denny Hamlin: We haven’t heard much about Denny during the races yet this season until the end when he gets in position to go for a win or at least make some noise. He has finished in the top ten at Phoenix in seven of his last ten starts including a win back in the spring of 2012. I think Denny is at his best on the shorter tracks and this is one of his favorite places to race. When you like to run at a certain track you come into the weekend with a lot of confidence and that carries over to your team.
Kyle Larson: Kyle has only run six races at this track and has qualified in the top ten in five of those races. However, he has never led a lap at this track and only has two top ten finishes to show for his efforts. Does this mean we need to keep him off of our team this week? No, you shouldn’t be afraid to use him if you want to. I think this team is close to figuring this track out from the start of a race to the end and they will win here one of these days.
Brad Keselowski: Brad almost won his second race in a row last week at Las Vegas and had the lead until the last lap when something broke on his car and he faded. He is still looking for his first win at Phoenix too, even though he has finished in the top ten in seven of his last ten starts here. I think this team has a good shot at winning every week no matter where they are racing. Look for Brad to have another good run this weekend.
Chase Elliott: Chase has finished in the top ten in his only two starts at Phoenix. A very small sample size, but it shows that he can get the job done on different types of tracks. Do you use him this weekend? I think he is better and more consistent on the intermediate tracks and will save his starts for those types of tracks myself. If you are in a league that doesn’t have a maximum starts per driver rule you could probably use him more often.
Ryan Blaney: Another young driver with only two starts at this track and he came away with two top ten finishes in those races just like Chase. This team has been pretty impressive this season so far. You can see that they have fast cars and I think Ryan pushes a little too hard early in a run and wears out his tires too quickly. If he can learn to manage his tires early in the race, he will find himself in position at the end of races to make that short run and try to get his first series win.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Kurt Busch
- Ryan Newman
- Ryan Blaney
- Kyle Larson
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Ty Dillon
- Daniel Suarez
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Joey Logano
- Kurt Busch
Dark Horse: Kyle Larson
Stay Away From: Martin Truex Jr.
Big 18: Kevin Harvick