2022 Ruoff Mortgage 500 At Phoenix

It’s time for the duel in the desert as the NASCAR Cup Series finishes up its West Coast swing at Phoenix Raceway. Let’s set your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups for the Ruoff Mortgage 500, airing on Sunday, March 13 at 3:30 pm ET on FOX.

Phoenix is ​​a much different track from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway. It’s 1 mile long and has a dog leg, a wide apron in a turn that allows drivers to slide down and try to pass those cars ahead of them. It will be interesting to see whether they’ll try this in the race, as it could mess with the diffuser underneath the rear end of the car. I do think they’ll attempt this during practice, as long as they don’t wreck. You can watch practice and qualifying on March 12 at 1:30 pm ET on FOX Sports 1.

Since this is the first shorter track on the regular schedule, we don’t really know for sure how the Next Gen cars will react to the track and the resin NASCAR put down. However, you can look at previous Phoenix races to see which strategy may be best for this week. You can also see which drivers have performed well there as well as other shorter, flat racetracks.

Last year’s races saw one driver lead over 100 laps in each race, while a few others led under that amount (but still a large portion). So whoever gets out front of the pack to start out will likely lead to a lot of laps. If you miss out on these dominators, you likely won’t win your DraftKings contests because the past few races saw mostly top-tier teams in the top 10.

Of course, anything can happen in practice and qualifying, so be sure you check out the final starting lineup to see whether any strong cars start near the back.

Before I share my picks for this week, here’s a look back at the results from Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

Salary drivers Draft Kings Score
$11,300.00 Kyle Larson 54.6
$10,800.00 Joey Logan 22.8
$8,000.00 Austin Dillon 31.9
$7,200.00 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10
$6,900.00 Chase Briscoe -25
$5,800.00 daniel hemric 14.45
$50,000.00 Total 108.75

Note: These scores and salaries are from the original contests DraftKings made before qualifying.

I can describe this score in one word: horrible. Ouch. But at least Kyle Larson led some laps and earned a second-place finish. Still, it’s not good when one driver scores half of your total by himself (unless the others aren’t in the negative).

In the $10,000 Quarter Jukebox tournament, 254.75 DraftKings points were needed to win $0.50. The highest score that won $500 had Kyle Busch, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, Aric Almirola and Harrison Burton and scored 394.60 fantasy points.

As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each spot lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the pole sitter.

Here are their rules for the road this season.

Now, on to my picks!

Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this info to make your own. DraftKings may decide to make another set of contests after qualifying for Sunday; these are from the first set opened during the week.

DraftKings Picks for 2022 Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix

Kyle Larson ($11,800)
Career at Phoenix: 15 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 9 top 10s

Average finish at Phoenix: 10.9

Same song, different verse for Larson as he’s once again in my pre-qualifying lineup for the second week in a row. Since fall 2016 he’s only had two results outside the top 10 at Phoenix, and none since fall 2018. He was strong there even before he joined Hendrick Motorsports last year, but didn’t get his first win until the championship race in November. No better time for your first victory, I’d say. He didn’t just win, though; I have led 107 laps, more than anyone else in the race.

Last week the 29-year-old gambled with teammates Bowman and Byron on the final pit stop of the race, taking two tires and controlling both lanes in overtime. While it didn’t work out in Larson’s favor, he still came home second after leading 27 laps.

Larson may be driving a new car, but don’t let that stop you from placing him in your DraftKings lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. ($9,800)
Career at Phoenix: 32 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 14 top 10s

Average finish at Phoenix: 15.0

Martin Truex Jr. has done fairly well at Phoenix in the last 10 races, earning five top fives and seven top 10s in that span. He’s also the defending race winner, as he grabbed his first track victory after leading 64 circuits last spring. He followed that up with a second place in the championship event in November, leading 72 laps in the effort.

Plus, in the last 10 races at tracks 1 mile or less in length, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing driver totaled two other victories at the spring Martinsville Speedway race and in the fall at Richmond Raceway. Truex was out front for 80 laps in the latter race, which definitely boosted his DraftKings score at the time.

At Las Vegas he was hot on teammate Kyle Busch’s tail in the closing laps until the caution came out for Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace. Unfortunately, he wound up eighth following the overtime finish, but his 34 fastest laps increased his fantasy score to 55.6 on DraftKings. See how Truex does in practice; if he has another fast car, he should add on more fastest laps this week.

Kevin Harvick ($9,100)
Career at Phoenix: 38 starts, 9 wins, 18 top fives, 37 top 10s

Average finish at Phoenix: 8.8

I’m honestly surprised that Kevin Harvick has this salary because of his Phoenix history. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since 2013. Six of his victories for him came between 2013-2018. Though Harvick hasn’t earned a win at Phoenix since 2018, he’s led 67 laps in March 2020. I mean, just based on these statistics, you should strongly consider him for your rosters.

The Californian’s DraftKings scores this season haven’t been all bad, either (except for the Daytona 500). Harvick earned 62.3 fantasy points at Fontana and 44.9 at Las Vegas, mostly because he started in the back. He even made the main in the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and finished 10th, earning 48.9 DraftKings points in the process. Attrition might help him move up again this weekend, but it would be even better if he had a fast car out of the gate so he could earn bonus points for fastest laps.

Aric Almirola ($7,900)
Career at Phoenix: 22 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 7 top 10s

Average finish at Phoenix: 14.2

Let’s just disregard Almirola’s Phoenix stats for a second. He’s supposed to retire from full-time racing at the end of the season, but he so far has not finished worse than sixth place. He’s earned 52 or more DraftKings points in each of the first three races, which (like his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Harvick) is mostly thanks to position differential. Somehow he’s overcome spins and other problems to hang around in the top 10 at the end of the race.

But this top-10 streak stretches back to last fall at Martinsville, where the Florida native closed out the year with back-to-back sixth-place finishes. He also won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2021 after leading 25 laps.

If Almirola keeps up the consistently strong results, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t play him on DraftKings (though I may be a bit more hesitant if he won the pole).

Dark Horse Performers

Bubba Wallace ($6,400)
Career at Phoenix: 8 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

Average finish at Phoenix: 21.8

As I previously mentioned, Wallace crashed into the inside wall in turn 1 after he narrowly avoided Jones on the track. Before that, he was running in the top 15 and looked to have a good result. Instead, he finished 25th, eight spots further down from where he began the race.

In last year’s championship race at Phoenix, the 23XI Racing pilot exited early after getting in a wreck with Corey LaJoie. However, Wallace does have a few top 20s at the 1-mile course, including a 10th in fall 2018. These kind of results help his DraftKings score, especially when he starts further in the pack. At this salary you could use every position differential point you can get.

Todd Gilliland ($4,900)
Truck Series career at Phoenix: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 3 top 10s

Truck Series average finish at Phoenix: 11.0

I think this is the first time I’m playing a driver in the $4,000 range at a track that isn’t Daytona International Speedway or Talladega Superspeedway. I mean, there’s always a risk having any driver in your lineup; that’s just a part of daily fantasy. But Todd Gilliland is a rookie who came up from the Camping World Truck Series — not exactly the type of driver you’d play at Phoenix. But he does allow you to fit some of the top-tier drivers in your roster.

Gilliland does have some respectable finishes: at Auto Club he ended 20th and at Las Vegas he was 23rd. He scored 29 and 26 DraftKings points in each race, respectively. You don’t really need a whole lot from him to help your DraftKings score, especially if one of your other drivers wins and/or leads a lot of laps.

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