NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Kevin Harvick -5
Kyle Busch - 4
All with 3 - Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch

By Track
Kevin Harvick - 10
Kyle Busch - 8
All with 6 - Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch

Recent Pole Winners: 
2018 Martin Truex Jr.
2017 Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

The Likely Suspects: ISM Raceway did the big reveal of its $178 million renovation during last November's race weekend, but it didn't change a thing for the Phoenix elites. Will anyone other than Kevin Harvick have a chance at finding Victory Lane this weekend? In addition to Kevin Harvick, my ISM go-tos will be Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. Typically Jimmie Johnson should be noteworthy at this track as well. We'll see.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick is obviously Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Erik Jones. I will round out my team with Matt DiBenedetto and Ty Dillon. Kevin Harvick will attempt to become just the sixth driver to win 10 or more races at a single track with a win this weekend at Phoenix.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Matt DiBenedetto

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Alex Bowman. In the fall of 2016, Bowman made quite the impression his first time at ISM Raceway in a Hendrick car when he won the pole, led a race-best 194 laps and finished a career-best sixth at Phoenix. He has the potential to run well here.
Last week's second-look driver Aric Almirola had a solid performance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he started 25th on the grid and finished seventh. By lap 173 the #10 car was able to battle to fourth, but couldn't hold onto it. His seventh-place finish earned Almirola his third top 10 in 12 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Las Vegas. He fell one position short of his previous best finish at Las Vegas which took place at last September’s South Point 400 when he came in sixth.

Points to Ponder:
  • Ryan Newman is the only active driver to win consecutive poles at ISM Raceway. Newman won three-straight (2002-04).
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with nine victories (2006 sweep, 2012 Playoff race, 2013 Playoff race, 2014 sweep, 2015 Spring race, 2016 Spring race, 2018 Spring race).
  • 10 drivers have multiple wins at ISM Raceway: Kevin Harvick leads the series with eight. Harvick is followed in wins by these active drivers: Jimmie Johnson (four) and Ryan Newman (two).
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with 10, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
  • Eight (17.8%) of the 45 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at ISM Raceway have been won from the front row, five from the pole and three from the second starting position. 
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch lead all active series drivers in second-place finishes with three each.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. ET on Friday, March 8, and pick your starters by 3:30 p.m. ET on race day, Sunday, March 10.

Enjoy the race!

Carol D’Agostino wields fantasy-racing superpowers. Each week, Carol researches statistics and combs through her personal racing notes to provide fans with fantasy racing advice at NASCAR Fantasy Fusion, a column she has written for Skirts & Scuffs since October 2011. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway, and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. This year she joins the NASCAR Expert Picks panel at
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. When she isn’t crunching numbers, you’ll find Carol in business meetings, hammering out a news release, or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat.  
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Thursday, March 07, 2019 Rating: 5