Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 at Phoenix. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver.
(fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.)
1. Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,200) – The No. 78 car came alive at the end of the spring race, but that was the product of being the only car with four fresh tires and a decent spot on the last restart. Nonetheless, the No. 78 car has been the best high horsepower car this season. (5.5 fppk)
2. Kyle Busch ($11,900) – The best car and the best driver still needed track position and help from lappers in the end. That’s life in the 2019 high horsepower, high downforce package. Busch even said it himself while in a victory lane interview. He credited his victory to lap traffic. (5.4 fppk)
3. Denny Hamlin ($10,600) – He didn’t really do anything in the spring race, but no one did. It was an extreme lap turner. Hamlin has pointed out in interviews that the high horsepower, high downforce package is broken. The giant billboard-sized spoiler on the back of the cars creates too much of an aero disadvantage for trailing cars. (5.0 fppk)
4. Kyle Larson ($9,600) – His season may have been ended when Bubba Wallace intentionally spun himself to create a caution at Texas. Larson drove from deep in the field to the front in the spring Phoenix race, but he was not very competitive upfront. (4.2 fppk)
5. Chase Elliott ($10,200) – In the spring, he jumped the start and squandered great track position. If he doesn’t jump the start, he had track position in a 100% track position race. Elliott had a great shot at winning, but that disappeared on lap one. (4.0 fppk)
6. Joey Logano ($9,900) – Penske was on a roll to start the season. Logano was very fast in practice, but track position meant more than a car or driver. During the final caution, Logano gambled and took four tires. He quickly found out that his tires would not matter, and he struggled to get into the top 10 on the last run. (4.4 fppk)
7. Kevin Harvick ($11,500) – Several top-5 drivers elected to take four tires during the last caution. Harvick and the other takers restarted around 20th, and on the final green-flag run, they were barely able to scratch and claw their way back into the top 10. (4.6 fppk)
8. Aric Almirola ($8,100) – During the last caution, Almirola gambled and took two tires. This vaulted him to the lead and he held that lead for 26 laps. Eventually, he faded, but he held on for a 4th place finish. (3.5 fppk)
9. Kurt Busch ($8,700) – He finished seventh and scored the seventh-most fantasy points in the spring at Phoenix. His good day was overshadowed by better days from similar drivers starting in the mid-twenties (Larson and Bowyer). (4.0 fppk)
10. Brad Keselowski ($9,100) – A mechanical failure ruined Keselowski’s day. As noted months ago in the rankings article, Jeff Gordon believed that Keselowski’s team was testing the limits of the package since they had already earned a win. BK was the fastest car in practice, but the speed may have been too much for the car to handle. (4.1 fppk)
11. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) – Penske had really fast cars at the beginning of the season. Blaney not only had a fast car, but he had track position. Starting on the pole in a race where it is impossible to pass is a big deal. (4.1 fppk)
12. Clint Bowyer ($8,900) – We should have known better. NASCAR fans have been critical of the large spoiler that has ruined short track racing this season. The dirty air disadvantage was apparent at Phoenix. Bowyer had a top 5 car, but he settled for an 11th place finish because of a poor track position on the last run. (3.2 fppk)
13. Erik Jones ($8,500) – This is not his best track, but all four JGR cars have been the best cars every week for the last two months. An early race tire issue ruined his day in the spring Phoenix race. (3.8 fppk)
14. Ryan Newman ($7,600) – Tires do not matter at Phoenix, so Newman will take two tires or stay out during a caution. He’ll leap into the top 10 and hang around that spot for the rest of the race. (4.8 fppk)
15. Alex Bowman ($7,800) – It’s been an up-and-down season. He got hot in the spring and ice cold in the summer. In the fall, it’s been a little bit of both. He has three top-5 finishes and three finishes of 20th or worse. (4.3 fppk)
16. William Byron ($8,300) – In the spring race, he started upfront and earned stage one points. In traffic in stage two, Byron got tight, but he battled towards the top 10. Ultimately a loose wheel and green flag stop on lap 277 ended any chances of a solid finish. (4.5 fppk)
17. Jimmie Johnson ($7,900) – Every Johnson blurb feels like it’s the last, but it’s not. This should be Johnson’s last season, but it won’t be. He’ll hang on for five more years just like Richard Petty and tarnish his legacy. (3.1 fppk)
18. Austin Dillon ($6,800) – In the spring race, Dillon’s team made an aggressive two-tire call and then tried to stretch fuel. The problem is that the two-tire stop was not long enough to fill the tank. Dillon lost a top-5 finish when he ran out of fuel at the end of the race. (3.2 fppk)
19. Daniel Suarez ($7,200) – His car lost power during stage one, and it had to be pushed to pit road. Suarez went a lap down, and he was never able to get back on the lead lap. Don’t be surprised to see Suarez jump to the front of the field with unconventional pit strategies at Phoenix. (3.9 fppk)
20. Chris Buescher ($7,000) – Kyle Busch leads NASCAR with 30 top 20 finishes. Buescher has 26. Obviously, Busch’s top 20s are closer to first and Buscher’s are closer to twentieth, but this is still a significant accomplishment for the small team driver. (4.4 fppk)
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