We are down to just two races left this season between the Xfinity and Cup championship races. Friday’s race went about as expected. Of the 156 laps that were run, the championship drivers led all but one of them. That’s just how Phoenix is set up and it’s been the complaint for almost a year now. Whoever gets the clean air in the closing laps will run away with the .
championship with ease. At least that’s how it looked for Brett Moffitt who was screwed by a late caution. I’m expecting more of the same from the Xfinity race, but the Truck drivers have benefitted from the lack of a competition caution so that’s aided the value of early laps led drivers. For Saturday’s race the drivers eligible for the championship are Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, and Justin Haley with a competition caution after lap 20. The stages are broken up into 45-45-110 segments.
Chase Briscoe ($11,200; Starting P2) Does he even need to be written up? Based on the success in 2020 alone he’s just a lock. It’s his swansong at the Xfinity level as he’s moving up to the 14-car for SHR next year. As great of a year as he’s had professionally, he’s had a pretty tough year personally so a championship win in his last race before the call-up would go a long way. He’s never finished outside the top ten but this isn’t one of his better races. But for a guy who has had such a fantastic year we know that we need to get exposure based on his ability to go out and dominate.
Justin Allgaier ($10,900; Starting P1) Although I’m hoping Briscoe wins the race, Allgaier is my pick to potentially dominate the most laps. He’s starting on the pole and while there is a competition caution, I’m not too worried about it for him. He runs very well on asphalt tracks as evidence by his dominant sweep of the Richmond double header. He led 213 combined laps in the Richmond races and in five of his last seven races in Phoenix he’s led at least 50 laps. I’m expecting him to be heavily owned but I’m hoping most casual DFS players load up on Briscoe and Cindric. I’m aiming to be heaviest on Allgaier.
Austin Cindric ($10,600; Starting P3) I really don’t know what’s up with Cindric but he’s lost the luster of his summer stretch where he won five of six races from July 9th to August 15th. He registered a top ten earlier this year at Phoenix and had a pretty good showing at Richmond’s first race where he led 64 laps and grabbed a top five. From the Indy Road Course on July 4th through the second Dover race on August 23rd he registered nine straight top five finishes. Since then he only has three top five finishes in his last 11 races and he hasn’t exactly dominated races like he did in the summer. In order for him to return value at this price tag he definitely needs to dominate a few laps and can’t afford to go too far backward.
Ross Chastain ($10,300; Starting P7) I feel like there are more reasons to not play Chastain today than there are to actually utilize him. For starters, this isn’t one of his better tracks. In ten races here he has an average finish of 19.1 and he’s only led four laps here. He also hasn’t done well historically at Richmond and like Briscoe, he’s moving up to Cup full-time next year in the 42-car. Do I think he’s checked out? There’s a mild chance of that because he isn’t eligible for today’s championship. However, this is still a competitive driver and he races hard. As we’ve seen in previous weeks he’s been apologetic for racing a little too hard. So I’m still going to get a little exposure. Despite not having a win this season he has looked great at times. Even at Richmond, a track that normally isn’t one of his best, he grabbed a pair of top five finishes while leading 97 laps between both races and he typically ran inside the top five at both tracks. Paying this price tag for a non-championship driver is risky because if we see the final four dominate the laps, then Ross would need a really good finish with some fastest laps to return value.
Justin Haley ($10,100; Starting P4) Haley will easily be the least-owned championship four driver so that does present some GPP appeal. At Phoenix last year he started P14 and finished seventh and then earlier this year he started 14th again and finished fifth. We could see very low ownership on Haley, lower than we normally see for a championship driver with people easily loading up on Briscoe, Cindric, and Allgaier. I don’t think he wins but he’s surprised us plenty of times in his young career.
Harrison Burton ($9,900; Starting P5) Burton’s kept drivers from automatically qualifying for the championship four as he’s stolen the last two races. And the championship driver doesn’t even need to win today’s race to be claimed champion. So with that in mind, what’s to stop Burton from going out and winning again on Saturday? The car has been fast and he actually finished second here in the Spring. He’s more of a GPP play and it would cap off his impressive rookie run in Xfinity to finish with a third straight win. At a cheaper price tag and with better PD we can also look at Noah Gragson. That’s a guy who seems to collect dominator points in every single race and this is a pretty good price tag for a guy who was less than a lap away from racing for the championship this weekend.
Daniel Hemric ($9,500; Starting P18) The prodigal son returns home to my Playbook. He has an average finish of 10.0 at Phoenix and that’s actually inflated with the 30th-place finish he had here earlier in the year due to the damaged vehicle policy. In his previous four Phoenix races he never finished worse than seventh. Considering at Vegas he was $11,000 starting P14 we’ll definitely take advantage of this price tag and this starting spot. In his last four races on the season he finished second at Kansas, third at the Roval, sixth at Talladega, and third at Vegas. He had some awful luck earlier in the year but the price tag and PD work well enough to use him in both cash and GPP contests.
Brandon Jones ($9,300; Starting P8) Between targeting the right dominators and championship drivers, and finding value plays I don’t know how much exposure I’m going to get to Brandon Jones. But he did win this race way back in March while getting 19 dominator points as well. More recently it’s been a little more ho-hum for Jones and I don’t love the price tag for him necessarily. But I’d be an idiot if I didn’t mention the guy who won this race in March. I would only play him in GPP’s.
Michael Annett ($9,000; Starting P10) This will be another short piece on Michael Annett. He’s reliable. That’s basically it. Every damn week it seems like he finishes seventh, eighth, or ninth. In his last 20 races he’s finished in that range 13 times. So while that result doesn’t necessarily return 5X value, you’ll still take it. I do wish the price tag was cheaper as he needs to do better than seventh for 5X value. But he’s consistently safe for about 39-42 points.
Brett Moffit ($8,600; Starting P12) Moffitt was on his way to winning the Truck series championship last night before a late wreck by Dawson Cram forced a restart and Moffitt lost the lead. Trust me, that screwed me out of a huge win after my single-entry lineup had Moffitt and Cram. And for a while we didn’t see the success translate to the Xfinity level, but between Kansas, Texas, and Martinsville he’s rolling into Phoenix with three straight top 15 finishes. Now with that said, he’s starting right around where he finishes so he does need to gain a few spots and finish in the top ten. He’s more of a GPP play than cash play on Saturday.
Myatt Snider ($8,000; Starting P15) I’m hoping the field is sleeping on Snider or they don’t realize he’s back in the 21-car for RCR again. He was in the 21 last weekend at Martinsville and didn’t return value, but again, that was a track most of the field had never raced on before. He ran this race in the 21-car earlier in the year and got a Top 15. Sure, we’d prefer Fast Pasta behind the wheel of his car but Snider is a good GPP play who does have top five upside when he’s in this car.
JJ Yeley ($7,900; Starting P34) I never write up nor do I play JJ Yeley. And I’ve been burned by that decision in the past, but that’ll change on Saturday. He could go out and easily hit value although this is a steep price tag for him. But the PD is still on his side. In seven of his last eight Xfinity races at Phoenix he’s finished 21st or better. If he gets another Top 20 he’ll come close to 5X value.
CJ McLaughlin ($6,400; Starting P35) McLaughlin will be in the 93-car on Saturday with Myatt Snider running in the 21-car. McLaughlin ran pretty well a couple weeks ago at Texas where he started 34th and finished 20th. This week he starts 35th and the price only went up $600 so that’s not terrible. This is a track where we see the field get lapped pretty quick. But with a competition caution in place, I think McLaughin has an okay shot at avoiding that in the first stage. This is a pretty good car that’s starting closer to the back but the PD is there. He needs to finish about 23rd to return 5X value. There’s a chance he may park this one so I’ll try and confirm that before lock as well.
David Starr ($5,600; Starting P29) This is a bit of a dart throw. I don’t expect Starr to finish inside the top 20, but he has potential to move up a few spots and hit 5X value. He started 32nd here earlier in the year and finished 26th. Again, that’s not a great result but we’ve seen him move up about five or six spots when he starts this far back. Again, I don’t think there’s a ton of upside here but at least he has an easier path to PD than some other drivers in this price range.
Bayley Currey ($4,900; Starting P33) Here’s to hoping we have one more correct call on Bayley Currey in today’s race. I didn’t write him up last week because, well, I didn’t write anybody up last week since it was the first Xfinity race at Martinsville in 14 years so a win’s a win! But I do expect a lot of ownership of Currey today. He offers PD and he’s a cheap play others will plug into their lineups and hope for a top 25 day which would return over 5X value. He’s flashed Top 20 upside in a few races this year including Richmond so I’m comfortable going in on Currey once again. One final note, we do need to confirm that he’ll have a sponsor for this race. Based on the entry list schedule that Bob Pockrass tweeted out on Friday, it doesn’t look like he has one yet so we’ll need to keep an eye on that.
Other Drivers To Consider: The value options are tough today. I can’t believe Jesse Iwuji is priced up to $6,600. Sure there’s PD but I don’t know if I want to pay that much for Iwuji although he had a good run at Texas two weeks ago. If you’re playing him, you have my respect. I really wanted to play B.J. McLeod but he’s not in the 6-car so there’s a little more risk with him. But I’m going back to Jesse Little today. I do like some of the other cheap drivers over him. They have better PD than Little but I can’t fade Little fully on the last race of the year. Tommy Joe Martins is a very interesting play today. He’s coming in with momentum with three straight top 16 finishes. The downside is that his starting spot sucks, but he’s started around this range the last few races as well. Kyle Weatherman could make or break your lineup so tread carefully. Colby Howard and Joe Graf Jr. are interesting to me. Naturally there’s risk but the price and starting spots aren’t awful. Again, the value options are a little more difficult to spot today. We do need to differentiate a little bit because we can’t load Bayley Currey into every build unfortunately because if he wrecks then we’re done.