This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to ISM Raceway for the Ticket Guardian 500.
The track is a one-mile tri-oval that is classified as a short track to some and an intermediate track to others. That is the great thing about ISM Raceway is that it is different. Speaking of different, the track went through a re-configuration before the playoff race here that moved the start/finish line from the backstretch to the middle of turn 2. It made for some exciting restarts and with teams now having a notebook, although a small sample, we should see some more exciting racing.
This is the fourth race of the season and for the fourth straight week cars have a different rules package installed. The tapered spaced and air ducts are not used here at Phoenix bringing the cars backup to 750 horsepower but the new rear spoiler remains which will create more downforce and in turn higher speeds. We have already seen this as opening practice saw speeds of about 3-4 mph faster when compared to last season at the track.
For fantasy, I will be looking to roster two to three drivers who have dominator upside as there are 312 laps in the race. Looking back at previous results here, there has been at least one driver to lead 100 or more laps in 10 straight races here, three times with a driver leading 200+ laps(Kevin Harvick all three times). There won’t be nearly as much place differential value this week looking at the results of the qualifying from Friday afternoon but there are some nice targets who could crush in the area.
Let’s jump in and take a look at my core drivers in each price range. Keep in mind, these picks are coming before the final two practices so be sure to grab a copy of my DFS NASCAR Cheatsheet as I will be updating that data and all my picks Saturday afternoon. You can also jump into the RotoPros Community Chat if you have any questions. Not a member yet? Make sure to get over to Rotopros.com and sign up for your free trial today.
Let's get into the picks.
Top Tier Target
Kevin Harvick(DK - $12,800 FD - $14,500)
Barring something catastrophic happening in practice today, Kevin Harvick is easily my top target this week in all formats. He has finished 6th or better in 11 straight and 13 of his last 15 trips to ISM Raceway with seven wins and a whopping 1,278 laps led. On top of that, he mentioned in a post-qualifying interview that this new package here is a lot like the 2014 package with the corner speed. That is terrible news for the competition as Harvick dominated both races here in 2014, winning both and leading 200+ laps in each.
Mid Tier Target
Daniel Suarez(DK - $7,600 FD - $7,400)
Suarez wrecked here in the playoffs but has been solid early in his career with two Top 10 finishes in four races. What I like this week is that he will be starting back in 28th after a qualifying mishap with Michael McDowell. If he shows anything better than Top 15 speed in the final two practices, he will be a great target in all formats in the mid $7K range on both sites.
Ryan Newman(DK - $7,100 FD - $8,200)
Newman saw his price drop on both sites coming into this week which is excellent news considering how consistent he has been here in Phoenix. He finished 11th in both races here last year and has finished 11th or better in eight of his last 11 races with a win(Spring 2017) and four Top 10 finishes.