Ruoff Mortgage 500: Top-5 NASCAR DFS Cup Series Targets at Phoenix Raceway
The start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season with the new Next-Gen car has been nothing short of stellar, which has carried over well into NASCAR DFS. The action on the track has been better than we’ve seen in years and it seems the gap has closed in terms of the lower funded teams running competitively with the powerhouse teams of the sport. The fourth points-paying race of the year may prove to be the new car’s biggest test, however, as the series continues its west coast swing with the Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
What makes this race unique in comparison to the three previously visited tracks so far in 2022 is that Phoenix Raceway is also the home of the series’ Championship race in November. Martin Truex Jr won the spring race in 2021 and Kyle Larson won the fall race, while simultaneously clinching his first-ever Cup Series title in the process. This weekend I look for NASCAR’s cream of the crop to once again rise to the top as they look to see where they stack up against their competition.
In all likelihood, the guys that will be around for the Championship 4 later this year, will run up front on Sunday. With that in mind, let’s dive into our top-5 NASCAR DFS targets for the Ruoff Mortgage 500 on DraftKings.
Top-5 NASCAR DFS Targets for the Ruoff Mortgage 500
Chase Elliott | #9 Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports | $10,700
Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott comes in as the third most expensive driver in the Cup Series on DraftKings for Sunday’s race. With a stout salary of $10.7k, only the Kyles Larson and Busch will cost you more when doing roster construction. I will admit, there is a driver slightly cheaper that I like more, however, I cannot pass on the sport’s most popular driver considering where he will start the race.
As we have mentioned in previous NASCAR DFS articles this year, scoring pivotal bonus points is the only way to finish in the green on any daily fantasy sports platform. The way that you score bonus points is to have a driver on your roster that leads laps, runs the fastest laps, or starts in what could be considered an undesirable position before making their way to the front. Odds are, Elliott may check all three of those boxes.
The Dawsonville, GA native will roll off the grid from the 19th starting position on Sunday afternoon and is likely to find his way to the top of the leaderboard at some point. In his prior six starts at Phoenix Raceway, Elliott has one win, three top-5s, four top-10s, and has also led 340 laps. If he’s able to make his way to the point from 19th, you’ll reap the benefit of all of those position differential points, as well as some fastest laps and laps led bonuses too.
Chase will be highly owned, but it’s important to play your chalk in GPPs when it makes sense.
Joey Logano | #22 Ford | Team Penske | $10,400
Our second of five drivers that we’re targeting this week for NASCAR DFS is none other than Joey Logano of Team Penske. The former Cup Series Champion has been consistent to start the 2022 season, leading laps in every race outside of last Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With the series headed to the desert, don’t expect another goose egg in the laps-led column this week.
Over Logano’s previous six races at Phoenix Raceway, no driver has led more circuits with a whopping 421. He also has one win, three top-5s, and five top-10s during that stretch. His worst finish during those six races? 11th.
Last fall at Phoenix when Joey Logano was on early vacation, he finished 11th. In the three Phoenix races prior to that his results were 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
At shorter-flat tracks last year minus Phoenix #2, Logano finished between 2nd to 5th every race.
— Ryan (@ifantasyrace) March 12, 2022
I fully expect Joey to make his way to the front from his tenth place starting position. He showed us top-3 speed during NASCAR’s Phoenix test sessions and is my pick to win the race on Sunday as he remains one of the series’ best short track racers.
Kevin Harvick | #4 Ford | Stewart-Haas Racing | $9,100
Once upon a time, Kevin Harvick was the king of the desert. The Closer has won here nine times throughout his storied career and has led over 1,600 laps. Admittedly, things are not what they once were in terms of Phoenix and/or Harvick consistently running up front. It is no secret, Stewart-Haas Racing struggled a bit throughout 2021, but things appear to be headed back in the right direction to kick-off 2022.
If you count the Busch Light Clash at the LA Coliseum in February, Happy Harvick has three top-10s through the first five contests. If there was ever a place for this team to build on that momentum and possibly even return to victory lane, there is no better place than Phoenix.
Over his last six outings here, Harvick has two top-5s, six top-10s, and has led 68 laps. At $9.1k on DraftKings and starting from p.16, I’m playing Harvick in both cash and GPPs.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr | #47 Chevrolet | JTG Daugherty Racing | $7,000
With three of our five top DraftKings’ targets wielding a price tag north of $9k, it’s time for us to look for some value. There are many things to factor into making this decision, and that includes starting position. As much as I personally like Ricky Stenhouse as a driver, what makes RSJ most appealing here is the starting position of 36th.
JTG Daugherty is changing the engine in the 47 car and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will not make a qualifying run #NASCAR
— Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) March 12, 2022
Statistically, Phoenix Raceway hasn’t been one of Stenhouse’s best tracks, but he has shown speed here over the years. In 18 career Cup races at the triangular-shaped race track, he’s managed to finish inside the top 10, ten times. If RSJ can make that 11 out of 19 on Sunday, you’ll reap the benefit of a ton of place differential points.
The price tag is fair at $7,000. Lock him into your GPP builds.
Chris Buescher | #17 Ford | RFK Racing | $6,700
For our final recommendation, we’re looking at Ricky Stenhouse’s old ride, the No. 17 at RFK Racing driven by Chris Buescher. Buescher isn’t a guy that is going to go out and lead a bunch of laps during the Ruoff Mortgage 500 and probably won’t get a top 5. What he is likely to do, however, is bring his car home inside the top 20.
Roush-Fenway-Keselowski Racing has shown some speed thus far in 2022, but they have also had their fair share of struggles adapting to the new Next-Gen car. With Buescher starting in p.26, a solid finish inside the top 20 or top 15 will still prove to be a productive day — for both his team and for those who roster him in NASCAR DFS.
Over his last six races in the desert, CB has managed a top 20 in five of the six events. He will need to avoid mistakes and trouble on Sunday afternoon, and I am confident that he will be able to do just that.
Good luck on Sunday afternoon! Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @Nate_FFL and @TeamRiseOrFalll for continued NASCAR DFS coverage and advice, as well as any late-breaking news prior to the green flag for the Ruoff Mortgage 500. Also, be sure to check out all the other great NASCAR DFS content at TeamRiseOrFall.com.