FREE NASCAR DFS Phoenix Breakdown, Cheat Sheet and Cores

Welcome to the Run Pure Sports, FREE NASCAR DFS Breakdown. Where today, I’m previewing the Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway, the site of the 2023 Championship. This short flat track in the desert is a critical stop on the NASCAR circuit, and being good here means everything for these teams. We can expect the top teams to be at their best as they battle for the checkered flag today.

The green flag is scheduled to wave today at 3:42 PM EST, and true to typical NASCAR fashion, we have a rule change to discuss beforehand. NASCAR has made modifications to reduce downforce on these cars by an estimated 30%, with the hope of improving the short track racing product by putting it in the “hands of the drivers.” We DID see some cars sliding and some tire drop off in the extended 50-minute practice session that NASCAR awarded teams on Friday, but it remains to be seen how this will actually impact the race.

So, what does all this mean for DFS today? I break it all down for you, giving you the insights and analysis you need to build a winning lineup.

Nov 6, 2022; Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) leads the restart during the Cup Championship race at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


Phoenix Raceway is a short flat track, measuring one mile in length. While each track on the circuit is unique in its own way, Phoenix is most comparable to tracks like Gateway, Louden, Richmond, and Nashville. This means we can expect to see similar types of strategies and approaches from the teams and drivers here. Despite the rule change and reduced downforce, I expect that the drivers who performed well on similar tracks in 2022 and have a strong track record at Phoenix will still be the top contenders in today’s race.

One key aspect of racing at Phoenix is the importance of track position. Passing can be very difficult on this type of track, and gaining positions during a run gets increasingly harder as the field spreads out. Teams who have the track position will do everything they can to hold onto it, while teams that don’t have it will roll the dice to try to get there.

As a result, we tend to see many of the top scorers on DK come from drivers starting towards the front of the field. In fact, in the last 8 races at Phoenix specifically, 53% of the Top 10 scorers on DK came from drivers starting 10th or higher. Drilling down even further, we see that 34% of those scores came from drivers starting inside the Top 5. On the other hand, the back half of the field only made up 16% (12) of those Top 10 scores. Drivers starting worse than 20th have only scored 8 Top 10’s in the last 8 Phoenix races. This underscores the importance of starting position at this track, and the challenges that drivers face when trying to make up ground from further back in the field.

Short flat tracks like Phoenix tend to have more laps than other tracks on the circuit, and today’s race is no exception, with a scheduled 312 laps, the most in any race so far in 2023. With so many laps on the table, dominator points become an even more important factor to consider in DFS lineups on Draftkings today.

In the last 8 races at Phoenix, we saw 25 performances from drivers who earned over 20 dominator points. Of those 25, 19 came from drivers who started inside the Top 5, with the furthest back any of these dominators started being 19th (Chase Elliott in the Spring last year). In contrast, there were only 4 performances from drivers scoring more than 20 PD points.

This again underscores the importance of track position at Phoenix, with drivers who start towards the front of the field having a significant advantage when it comes to earning dominator points. In fact, the pole sitter at Phoenix has scored 35+ dominator points in 7 of the last 8 races, and has not finished worse than 7th in DK scoring. They have been Top 3 in DK scoring on the slate 7 of 8 times. Meanwhile, the driver starting in 2nd place has earned 35+ dominator points in 5 of the last 8 races, with 5 Top 3 DK performances.

Starting the entire front row is also a viable option, as 5 out of the last 8 Phoenix races saw 2 of the Top 3 scores on DK come from drivers starting on the front row, most recently the 2022 finale with the Penske teammates of Logano and Blaney. All of this data suggests that focusing on drivers with strong dominator potential who are starting towards the front of the field will be key to building a winning DFS lineup at Phoenix today.

Drivers with 20+ Dom Points Last 8 Phoenix Races

Cheat Sheet

Below is my cheat sheet for today’s race at Phoenix. I have included first and foremost lap averages from the extended 50 minute practice session on Friday. I have also included driver data from the last 8 Phoenix races, as well as 2022 races at Phoenix, Gateway, Richmond, Louden, and Nashville, 7 total races. Drivers in green are drivers I like today, drivers in purple I like and I think they COULD be under owned.

Driver Notes

Well it looks like Draftking’s nailed the Top spot on the price chart today, Kyle Larson has a rocket ship. This car was fastest in every practice metric on Friday and then Larson went out and put up and incredible lap in qualifying to grab the pole. Larson and this 5 team is dialed in to start the season and has unloaded FAST in every race. After everything I spelled out about track history and pole sitters, you can’t get away from Larson in this spot today.

Maybe I am falling too hard for what the 5 car has shown this weekend, but it’s hard for me to get behind any of the other $10k+ guys today. Most concerning is I am not playing the Penske duo of Logano and Blaney. You can see their history here and at this track type, I had every intention of playing them heading into the weekend. But both cars looked to struggle outside of early in a run. Their lap times fell off and were all over the place. They will be chasing cars who have much better long run speed who are starting in front of them all day, unless of course there are some strategy shenanigans.

Mar 11, 2023; Avondale, AZ, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) accepts the Bush Light Pole Award at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic
Nascar Cup Qualifying

At $9800 we come to last weeks DOMINATOR William Byron. He flat smoked the field last week and HMS has another hot rod under him today. Byron has a knack for starting seasons strong and he looks in line for another great run today. He dominated the Spring race at Richmond last year and he scored 23 fast laps at Phoenix in the Fall before finishing 6th. He starts with the track position and this pit team proved last week they can get him the lead.

One driver who seemed to really like the lower downforce package is Denny Hamlin. Toyotas look to have the long run edge today and Hamlin is as good as it gets when it comes to long runs, especially if tire wear becomes a factor as indicated. Phenomenal recent track history here with a win, 5 Top 5s, and the most fast laps in the last 8 races.  Could definitely see him and Larson battling it out all day at the front of the field.

Sticking to the theme of Dominators, another guy who fits that mold today is Denny’s JGR teammate of Christopher Bell. Don’t let his lap averages fool you, he had awesome speed in practice running laps consistent with Larson. His averages are weighted down by a couple slow laps to start. Bell broke through for his first oval win on the short flat track of New Hampshire in 2022, then followed it up later with another short flat track win at Martinsville. This is a track type that fits right into his wheel house, he starts towards the front, and Toyotas have speed, watch out for Bell today.

One of mine and probably everyone’s favorite plays on the slate today is Kevin Harvick. He proved in 2022 he is still elite on Short flats with a Richmond win and 4 Top 5s. It’s no secret that this is by far his best track, his 9 career wins here is more than he has on any other track. Today he is going for his 20th straight top 10 in a row in his final year in the series. His car looked great in practice with awesome long run speed. He was all smiles in the garage area. I think he finds his way to the front of this race before it is over to bring added dominator upside to go with some PD potential.

Two other guys whom I skipped over that I want to mention are Martin Truex Jr and Tyler Reddick. This is not a track type that Tyler has had a ton of success at but now he is in a Toyota, which tends to be way better here than his former team. He too, showed incredible speed on the long run. Truex has had his share of success at Phoenix and on the short flat tracks last season. His lap averages do not pop off at you, but he was running laps comparable to his Toyota teammates. These guys will have to get to the front or pick up fast laps to pay off though. I won’t have much of them only because I am going to be heavy on Happy Harvick.

Alex Bowman is a driver who I think could go overlooked today in this range with a lot of attention going to Harvick and another chalkier option priced lower. Bowman was not particularly great on short flat tracks last year but new crew chief Blake Harris looks to turn that around.  Car did not look great in the first run in practice, but after adjustments, his lap times on his second run looked more in line with his HMS teammates and they were consistent.

Mar 10, 2023; Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe (14) during practice for the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of that chalky option… We come to last years races winner Chase Briscoe who starts 24th. Chase not only won here in the Spring, but he backed it up with a 4th place finish and 14 Dom points in the fall. Today will be a much tougher task coming from 24th as he started 6th or better in both those races last season and never fell further back than 16th. He will have to have a mistake free race and use patience in getting through he field, but this car showed to have the speed to do so in practice, and Chase has proved he knows how to get around here.

Bubba Wallace is a great pivot in this range off of the chalkier BriscoeHe brings similar concerns as Briscoe as in IF he can navigate through the traffic, but Bubba will likely be much lower owned. Toyotas excelled in the long run speed on Friday and Bubba should be a beneficiary. Bubba is finding his way inside the Top 10 on seemingly a weekly basis now. He finished 3rd at New Hampshire last year and had another short flat track Top 10 at Martinsville.

Lock of the slate for me today is Aric Almirola for $6,900 starting 31st. Almirola is TOO good on short flat tracks and provides a TOO much value to pass up here. Almirola showed more speed in practice than he showed in qualifying, especially on the long run. He has an average finish of 12th here over the last 8 races which includes a Top 5 and 3 Top 10’s. He just needs to finish Top 20 for 5x value, which he’s done in 20 of his last 22 Phoenix races, and he has not finished worse than 22nd in that same span. LOCK HIM IN!

Chris Buescher is a guy who I think will go over looked today due to Aric Almirola. I honestly don’t mind playing a few guys in this range and skipping the Briscoe/Bubba range, as a guy like Buescher will be way lower owned. RFK looks to have brought some speed this weekend as Bossman Keselowski qualified towards the front. Buescher showed similar speed to Keselowski in practice and he finished 10th in this race last year. Needs a Top 15 finish to hit 5x value.

Continuing down we get to AJ Allmendinger. He Raced in 6 races on this type of track in 2022. He was consistent with 5 Top 20 finishes that included a 10th place finish at Gateway and a 12th place finish here at Phoenix in the Fall. Phoenix is one of his better oval tracks, he had a stretch of 10 races earlier in his career where he finished 18th or better in 9 out of 10 with 3 inside the Top 11. He also had 3 front row starts in that period, further proving his knack for getting around this place.

Burton is another value option for me on the slate today. His speeds in practice looked surprisingly good. At some point it is going to need to start clicking for this kid, and this is the perfect track type for it to happen. He had a 19th place finish here in the fall, which would easily pay off this price tag today.

The cheapest I am going today is Zane Smith. This kid has talent and you usually do not have to worry about him doing something stupid. His teammate McDowell showed some speed in qualifying and Zane showed enough speed in practice to be better than 8-10 cars, a little attrition and some pit strategy then who’s what kind of value he can provide for this $5200 price tag.

Cash Core

GPP Core


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