DFS NASCAR: Instacart 500

DFS NASCAR: Instacart 500

This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.

Instacart 500

Location: Avondale, Ariz.
Course: Phoenix Raceway
Format: 1.0-mile oval
Laps: 312

Race Preview

Kyle Larson became the fourth different winner in as many races last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was his fourth start for Hendrick Motorsports and his first win since returning to the series after losing his ride with Chip Ganassi Racing last season. Hendrick machines have now won two of the first four races and they are arguably the strongest team at the moment. However, one Hendrick driver who hasn't won yet, Chase Elliott, likely would have surprised most fantasy players if they had been told that prior to the season. He has another chance this week at Phoenix Raceway, however. He dominated the race there last fall and won the 2020 championship along with it. Penske Racing's Joey Logano is the defending winner of this race, though, and teammate Brad Keselowski will be starting from pole. 

Key Stats at Phoenix Raceway

  • Number of races: 49
  • Winners from pole: 5
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 18
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 26
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
  • Fastest race: 118.132 mph

Previous 10 Phoenix Winners

2020 fall - Chase Elliott
2020 spring - Joey Logano
2019 fall - Denny Hamlin
2019 spring - Kyle Busch
2018 fall - Kyle Busch
2018 spring - Kevin Harvick
2017 fall - Matt Kenseth
2017 spring - Ryan Newman
2016 fall - Joey Logano
2016 spring - Kevin Harvick

Phoenix Raceway's flat 1.0-mile layout comes with some challenges for teams. Without a yellow-line rule, drivers will have the whole of the surface to find the place their cars work best through the turns, and maximizing mechanical grip is the priority. The draft won't have the same effect it had last week at Las Vegas. Chassis setups likely will be a compromise between different areas of the track to maximize speed throughout an entire lap. Passing can occur on corner entry and through the turns, especially through the dogleg. Due to the track's flat banking, tire wear will also be a priority. Drivers will want to opt for four-tire stops, but late cautions will likely draw out teams willing to gamble on two- or no-tire stops to gain track position. Cautions coming late in the stages and race will be a challenge for teams since track position is important, but fresh tires will be faster.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kevin Harvick - $11,900
Chase Elliott - $11,500
Joey Logano - $11,100
Kyle Busch - $10,800

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Kyle Larson - $9,600
Ryan Blaney - $9,300
Aric Almirola - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Alex Bowman - $8,700
William Byron - $8,300
Christopher Bell - $8,100
Kurt Busch - $7,700

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Erik Jones - $7,000
Cole Custer - $6,700
Michael McDowell - $6,200
Ryan Preece - $5,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Chase Elliott - $11,500
Kyle Busch - $10,800
Alex Bowman - $8,700
Austin Dillon - $7,400
Ryan Newman - $6,600
Justin Haley - $5,000

Elliott (DK $11,500, FD $13,500) dominated at Phoenix last fall, leading 153 laps from pole to win. He also led 93 laps in the spring race and has two other top-three finishes at the circuit. This could be the week he gets over this little slump. Kyle Busch (DK $10,800, FD $11,700) has three Phoenix wins, including back-to-back races in 2018 and 2019. His bad luck early in the season impacted his starting position, but a third-place finish last week helps give him his first top-10 starting spot since the Daytona 500. Busch was third in this race last season. Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers have visited Victory Lane already this season, and Alex Bowman (DK $8,700, FD $9,000) is anxious to join them. He had a difficult race last week in Las Vegas but does have two top-10s so far. Bowman starts 21st on Sunday, but a second Phoenix top-10 should be within his grasp. Richard Childress Racing and Austin Dillon (DK $7,400, FD $7,000) have stepped forward this season. Dillon brings back-to-back 12th-place finishes to Phoenix where he has two career top-10 finishes. Ryan Newman (DK $6,600, FD $5,500) is a two-time Phoenix winner fantasy players can grab at a nice price this week. He will start 19th as he looks for his second top-10 finish of the season. Justin Haley (DK $5,000, FD $4,000) continues to gain Cup experience this week. With three top-10 finishes from the first four Xfinity races of the season and a 2020 win on his resume, it may appear not much more experience is necessary. He has outperformed in his appearances so far this season, and I would expect the same this week as well.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $11,100
Denny Hamlin - $9,900
William Byron - $8,300
Chase Briscoe - $7,500
Erik Jones - $7,000
Michael McDowell - $6,200

Defending race winner Logano (DK $11,100, FD $12,000) will start ninth this week. He and the Penske Racing team have demonstrated the pace to run up front this season but need to make the right adjustments throughout race distances to stay there. Logano has two Phoenix wins and led 125 laps in the fall on his way to finishing third. Denny Hamlin (DK $9,900, FD $13,000) is also a two-time Phoenix winner. He will start third on Sunday and is the only driver with three top-five finishes from the first four races so far this season. His last Phoenix win came in the fall of 2019 when he led 143 laps. William Byron (DK $8,300, FD $10,000) already has his 2021 win and will be looking for more this week, too. He finished eighth last week at Las Vegas and has three top-10 Phoenix finishes from six series starts, including both races there last season. Chase Briscoe (DK $7,500, FD $6,200) will make his first series start at Phoenix this week. He has two top-20s from the first four races this season and finished second at this track in the fall Xfinity Series race last year. He will start 26th on Sunday and is poised to add finish differential points to rosters this week. Erik Jones (DK $7,000, FD $5,700) drove from 29th starting position to 10th last week. He is punching above his weight with Richard Petty Motorsports, and a trip to Phoenix could produce more of the same. He has four top-10 finishes from nine career starts at the track. Last week's trip to Las Vegas was the first time this season Michael McDowell (DK $6,200, FD $5,000) finished outside of the top 10. He will start 16th this week, which is the furthest back he has started this season since the Daytona 500, which he won. He equaled his best Phoenix finish of 16th in this race last season from the 22nd starting position. This week's starting spot will be his best at the track since 2010.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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