NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: TicketGuardian 500
NASCAR might feel a little more normal this weekend. The last two weeks, NASCAR's new aero package has laid the foundation for this new era of stock car racing, but this week, it is back to normal. The aero package at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, AZ remains unchanged from the two races at this exciting, flat one-mile race track.
That change back to normal will benefit diving into prior trends, and should be a more similar fantasy weekend to races of prior years. The last couple of weeks, the strategy absolutely changed, with pass differential at a premium, especially in cash formats. This weekend, we will want to hunt a candidate to dominate the race again.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about this track, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on drivers' recent history here and elsewhere, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kevin Harvick ($14,500): Harvick should be at the top of your wish list this weekend in Phoenix. He has won nine times at ISM Raceway, which has undergone many reconfigurations during that run. But no matter how they lay out the track, Harvick seems to be the favorite every time the date rolls around. He has done his best this week to live up to that billing as he posted the second-best 10-lap average in both Saturday practices, and he starts a respectable eighth. Harvick is a fantasy rock and appears to be among the co-favorite this weekend with the next gentleman.
Kyle Busch ($14,200): While Harvick is currently the betting favorite in Las Vegas at 9-4 odds to win the race, Busch is in very close proximity with 7-2 odds to win. Busch was visibly frustrated after last Sunday's race, but perhaps this date on the calendar will turn around his mood. Busch had a dominant year at ISM Raceway last season, leading 128 laps in the spring before succumbing to Harvick and then leading 117 laps in the fall on the way to capturing the checkered flag. He appears to be quick this weekend, finishing in the top 10 in all practice sessions held. Busch is a strong pivot off the more expensive Harvick, and a great cash-game strategy would be to stack the two. However, in GPPs, an edge could be had by leaning one over the other.
Ryan Blaney ($9,500): Ryan Blaney will hope to break up the party at the front, and he appears to have the machine to do so. He won the pole by over two tenths of a second on Friday, which is a monstrous gap at ISM Raceway. He backed that up by posting the second-fastest lap time in both Saturday sessions. There is no doubt Blaney has a car with tremendous take-off speed, but the question will be if the young gun can hold off Harvick, Busch, and others over the entire course of a run. Also, Blaney has the small boost of the best pit stall since he is starting on the pole, which could lead to additional laps led at the beginning of each stage. At only $9,500 and in a price tier devoid of fast cars, Blaney will be justifiably popular.
Clint Bowyer ($10,600): It's been an up and down start to the season for Bowyer, and Phoenix may not be what the doctor ordered. He has cracked the top 10 only once in his last 11 tries at the track, and he also has the infamous intentional wrecking of Jeff Gordon to his name here. However, this is a matter of machine over man. No matter how much Bowyer may struggle here, Saturday proved why he's a must start from the 26th position. He was 10th in final practice and 7th in his 10-lap average. Bowyer is too good of value to pass up in this spot.
Kyle Larson ($11,000): For whatever reason, Larson and the 42 team have yet to consistently figure out qualifying, and a timing mistake on Friday means he is starting near the rear again in 31st. Obviously, a driver with this much talent starting this deep in the field will have some serious potential to rack up pass-differential points. However, it is worth noting that while Larson has come from the back several times in his career, it has never happened for him at ISM Raceway. The lowest he has ever started here was 12th. Larson has an up-and-down track record at this place, with three top-five finishes in his last five races, but the other two finishes saw him come in outside the top 15. I like Larson's stability in cash, and I'm also interested in stacking him with Bowyer and Blaney in tournaments.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400): Suarez was about six days late to UFC 235 as he was involved in a fight with Michael McDowell ($5,000) that could have been inside the octagon after an incident in qualifying ruined both of their chances to make the second round of qualifying Friday. While I have minimal interest in McDowell, who has yet to crack the top 30 since his top-five showing at Daytona, his mistake has helped open up value with Suarez at this price. Suarez is off to an inauspicious start himself to 2019, but his general reliability and top-20 times in all practice sessions mean he offers a tremendous shot to better his 27th starting position on Sunday.
Matt Tifft ($4,000): We've talked about a lot of expensive guys thus far, and you may need someone to balance it all out. While any option under $5,500 is generally undesirable on most NASCAR weekends, Tifft isn't a bad dart throw today. Believe it or not, the rookie to Front Row Motorsports actually bested his teammates in Saturday's final practice on the 10-lap average times. Tifft was 24th, which, while not great, bettered McDowell in 27th and David Ragan ($5,000) in 29th. Tifft was also a full-timer in the Xfinity Series last year, and he had great success at ISM Raceway, finishing seventh and third in his two attempts. As far as bargain options go, Tifft, Matt DiBenedetto ($5,500) and Ryan Preece ($5,500) are all in play.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.