Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet | 2017 Phoenix International Raceway, Camping World 500
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2017 Phoenix International Raceway, Camping World 500

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

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Kurt Busch

Dark Horse: Kyle Larson

Stay Away From: Martin Truex Jr.

Big 18: Kevin Harvick

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  • Bill hnat

    Stages would be better if there was as not a caution at the end of the stage. Sixth place overall in fantasy live, thanks for the articles

    Reply
  • Doug

    Is there a lucky dog at the cautions at the end of stage 1 and 2?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      As far as I know, yes there is a lucky dog after the stages.

      Reply
  • Matt20Fan

    A driver who finishes 22nd should not receive more points than a driver who finishes 2nd. Case in point, at Daytona, Harvick finished 22nd with 34 points and Paul Menard finished 5th with 32 points. Logano finished 6th and got 8 more points (40) than Menard who finished 5th with 32 points. That’s plain stupid! What’s even more stupid is NASCAR can’t count Stage points unless they throw a caution and run cars through the pits. Who cares who wins Stage whatever?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I will agree with you on a driver finishing farther back in the pack and getting more points. A few years ago NASCAR insisted they were going to give more points out and make winning races mean something. I guess that went out the window with making the point system easier for fans to follow and Boys have at It.

      Reply
  • Rob Balsinger - Lewis Center Oh

    I think the stages are trying to bring what was good about (1) the old point system, (2) the excitement of the Chase (ooops, Playoff) system and (3) throw in some of the checker flag drama more than once in a race. That is a tough mixture to get right. Matt20, if a driver scores more points than the guy in front of him then he has raced a better race. This is not and has hardly ever been (at least since the early 60’s) “the first one to the checkers’. (Go see Smokey at his garage) (Ask Rusty about winning races and not being the Champion). NASCAR is not trying to go back to that ’50’s NASCAR (it does not pay for itself). NHRA is the way to see a race like that. (I recommend doing that as well, by the way. Nothing better that the smell of Top Fuel, carcinogens be damned) This new racing though is actually is more of what the good part old points system was about. It brings back a little of what led to the need for the 500 mi races. Stock car racing is meant to make you in a Toyota and me in a Ford (who needs Chevy) feel like we are being represented at the track. We face challenges and quirks and other bad drivers (not us) on the road and so do these guys. How they deal with whatever they come across in their commute and then succeed or fail is gratifying to us. At least as much as they are smart and in a good car like you and me (that’s the fantasy anyhow…). If you get to work first before me but drove over the sidewalk and did not stop for the bus with the flashing red lights, does that make you a better driver? (Judging from what I see daily on my 500 mi commute, perhaps that is the prevailing sentiment).

    Anyhow, that is the point of the extra points. The Playoff points that accrue will become more apparently valuable as the year progresses. That is another reference to the good part of the old point system. ‘Points now for the big finish…’. The new checkers at the end of the stage are a gift to the ADD generations. The idea of checkers being flown in the middle of a race is startling and not attractive to a old guy like me. But they are not flown for me. As the advantage of the stage victories become more apparent, the gratification of ‘getting the checkers’ will become more satisfying. And as always, waving a checker flag in front of these guys will work even if you do it in a grocery store.

    So, in NASCAR nowadays (like always and that is not bad) first on the priority list is the sponsors. More fans means more POS opportunities which pays for charters. New fans don’t come from people born in the last century. If they get it right now, like they did when Winston came on board ( ask some the old guys who did not adapt to THAT change how they felt), NASCAR will then be all set for the next France . That is Brian’s job 1. We just get to watch. Go Penske Go.

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      Thanks for the post. I just want to throw this out there and see what you think. Is NASCAR worried about how they are going to fair once Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires? Are they thinking of this because of what happened to him last season when he missed most of the second half and their viewership dropped even more? Just looking for more opinions.

      Reply
      • Rob Balsinger - Lewis Center Oh

        Thanks for asking.

        The retirements from NASCAR that I have watched have some elements in common. Darryl and Rusty’s retirements look a lot alike. I think Tony’s and Richard Childress’ may well end up being similar. The effects that any one retirement from NASCAR has had on the sport may be discernible in a study but I think that what you would find is an effect only on the margins. The reason for that, I think, is that NASCAR is not about the drivers. How many times have the words “NASCAR does not need you” been spoken in the trailer by one director after another to a driver who has a very different opinion? The one retirement that you might compare to the impending retirement of Jr. is, of course, the KING’s. Both are keynote drivers. Both are sons of the sport. Both are owners who can build teams as well as cars. (Oh I how I wish that both would be in a FORD!) The difference of course is that one thing that hangs over NASCAR in every department and in every aspect. That difference is “Sr.”

        Because of Sr., the name Earnhardt is transcendent. If Jr. walks away from NASCAR like so many have, and then is hardly ever to be seen again (not a chance), the effect would certainly be more negative but not catastrophic. His remaining in the sport as an owner will be better for NASCAR than his staying as a driver. Why do I say that? Jack Rousch is talking about his last three years. Rick Hendrick has help on staff now to make his absence less traumatic. Roger Penske is always preparing for the future and he has the will, brains and tools to machine the future to an extent not familiar to you and me. In the scenario I am painting here, those holes will be filled by the transcendent presence. To some degree then you can even say Sr. is still working hard to make NASCAR more successful. Add to that effect car owner Jr. who is just now maturing into the best he has ever been, personally as well as professionally. He can find young drivers can’t he? They flock to him.

        The retirement of Jr. and the advent of car owner, scratch that, team owner Jr. will carry his life, legacy, legions of hangers-on and all his fans into the future. This transcendent symbiosis (its getting deep here) of the Earnhardt name will follow a path cut by the Pettys (whom I also love and respect) and turn the path into a boulevard. NASCAR will profit. But all this hangs on a single thread. Not that he will continue as a car owner. Even if he at first chooses to walk away completely (not) he would be back. The one thread which dangles this dream before us is………..wait for it…………E3. (think of the post Dillon 3) Jr. has got to make a child that can drive. He certainly must have incentive on a number of levels to ‘Git ‘er done’.

        Reply
        • Jeff Gutowski

          I just want to say I am thinking of one difference between a Dale Jr. retirement and The King is TV is so much more prevalent these days and that is where most of the revenue comes from. Will sponsors and advertisers still want to spend the money they are now if NASCAR’s identity is no longer racing?

          Reply
          • Rob Balsinger - Lewis Center Oh

            >>Will sponsors and advertisers still want to spend the money they are now if NASCAR’s identity is no longer racing?

            Explain that.?

            Jr. as a team owner will be racing 4 cars ( 5 if he wants, they will change the rules). Jr. will be multiplex. (I don’t know if Wiki will explain what that means). He will be exponential.

            The racing and the drivers are two different things if that is what is confounding the idea. Judging from the stock car fans I know and love, that I understand, the racing is perceived as a ‘me against them’. I admit that there are fans brought into the sport by celebrity and glamour and whatever other market growing thing used that is not ‘racing’ but they are the margin I referenced, At the core, the means by which it works, is the ‘them and us’ thing. ‘Revenuers vs. brewers’, ‘rich vs. poor’, ‘scrabbled through to the front’ and ‘sailed through to the front by an invoice and a check’. That is the tension of the event and with that there are as many variations as there lives. Fans can internalize 2 (Rusty fan) elements of the tension in entirely 2 different ways and that is a little something called value to any sponsor or TV network. The drivers are the tools, not the product. ‘Earnhardt’ though, now that is different (and I was not a Sr. fan). That is now a brand. That is an eternal, ‘perfect’ thing. Put Democratic and Republican on the cars instead of Ford and Chevy and we will still watch (stream, 3D, whatever is next). At the center is ‘them and us’. (Ever suspect there was A WFW element to NASCAR? Ask Doug above). And there will be commercials. It will be commercial. Have no fear. They are 3, maybe 4 years into the 10 year TV contract. Is that right? The timing is perfect. At the core though is a simple concept. ‘We are all equal, except I will beat you’. That sells and it should. It is survival of the fittest. Hammer down. WFO.

  • Doug

    I’m assuming most in my league will start the 4 as their A driver and as an 18 fan I can not start the 22 this week. Who else do you like in A?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      The 18 is your next best choice.

      Reply
  • Joe

    Which two would you pick………Blaney, Larson, Ku.Busch, Elliott?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I’m liking Blaney this week.

      Reply

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