Coming off his podium run the week prior at Homestead-Miami, Kyle Larson would not be denied the win in a second go-around last Sunday at Las Vegas. Along with the win, he would lead a commanding 103 of the 267 laps. Trailing behind him a distant second was Denny Hamlin with 47 laps in total. After such a strong start in his new ride, Larson seems to have his feet lodged firmly under the table.
Phoenix will be the first event this season to implement the 750hp engine as part of the 2021 rules package, which is noteworthy. Looking at the track specs for Phoenix Raceway, it is a one mile, low-banked tri-oval track. What makes this a unique race for fans is it’s hillside spectating. Dubbed as “Rattlesnake Hill”, you must climb a 150-foot slope in order to reach the top.
This week, the Money Train delves into the DFS options for Sunday’s Cup Series event in Avondale, AZ. I’ve broken down the selections between high salary, mid-range, and value play. Included are player salaries from both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Best of luck to everyone with their lineups this weekend.
Brad Keselowski (12,500 FD, 10,400 DK)
Due to Larson’s powerful performance Sunday, Keselowski might have been overshadowed. However, you have to give Keselowski his due. He ran a terrific race, finishing just over three seconds behind Larson. Most importantly, his 54 points earned were the most of any driver.
Penske has been supplying him with some pretty fast race cars, and it’s shown over the early season. Keep in mind that we are already four races into the season and Keselowski sits runner-up in series points. Had it not been for some misfortune at Daytona and Homestead, he would likely be sitting atop the leaderboard.
Coming into this event as the pole-sitter, Keselowski is one of a handful of drivers you should consider picking up as your dominator. Ponder the race here last March, in which he led the second-most laps on the day with 82. A runner-up here for the title back in November, there’s undoubtedly going to be some extra incentive to finally get that first Phoenix win.
Kyle Busch (11,700 FD, 10,800 DK)
Having just come off a podium finish last weekend, perhaps he’s just beginning to get himself into a groove. Though we shouldn’t necessarily expect Rowdy to be as hot a commodity at Phoenix as in years past, he’s still a driver worth targeting. Up until his 11th place run here in November, Busch had compiled a staggering nine straight top-seven finishes (including two wins and three runner-ups.)
Just nine laps shy of 500 laps led, straight up, there’s been no one driver that’s been able to touch him. Joey Logano has come the closest trailing by 213 laps in total. And with a seventh place starting position, he’s going to be in prime position to pick off those front runners early. Bear in mind that he has been one of the better passers in the early going of 2021. In four races, Busch ranks fifth overall in quality passes made and is tied for tops in green flag passes with Michael Mcdowell.
Aric Almirola (8,000 FD, 9,000 DK)
Last weekend certainly didn’t go according to plan for Almirola, after suffering a DNF thanks to a blown tire. Fortunately, he now comes to Phoenix, one of his better tracks over the past few years. Over his past seven trips here, Almirola has racked up five finishes inside the top-10, including back-to-back runs among the top four. Most recently in 2020, he collected both an eighth and 13th place result, respectively, in his pair of visits.
Starting at No. 32, working himself past 12 or more cars en route to a top-20 run is doable. Keep in mind that Almirola has finished outside of the top 20 just twice over his past 18 cup visits to the desert. After leaving owners high and dry last Sunday, this is an opportunity for Almirola to repay the disillusioned. I would consider taking a flier on the Stewart-Haas wheelman.
Cole Custer (7,300 FD, 6,700 DK)
This has been a decent track for Custer over his three prior seasons in NASCAR. Over his six attempts as an Xfinity regular, he had an average finish of 8.3, and not a single DNF to boot. His rookie season as a cup driver was a mixture of sorts, however. Custer finished a sound ninth in the March event and would follow that up with a 28th place outcome in the season finale.
Having qualified with a 24th place starting position, I think there’s definitely some value here. He’s already captured back-to-back top-13 finishes on the season, so finishing among the top-20 drivers should be realistic. If you are stuck on who to pick as your bookend driver, Custer is a name worth considering.
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