NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Championship race at Phoenix

 

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 5 - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch
All with 3- Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano
 
By Track
Kevin Harvick - 10
Kyle Busch - 9
Denny Hamlin - 7
Kurt Busch - 6
All with 5 - Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.

Last Year's Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: There are few drivers who get around this one mile track better than Kevin Harvick. Other Phoenix masters include Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, and Brad Keselowski.

My 2 Cents: A few years ago I had the privilege of covering race weekend at Phoenix. The Cup winner that year was Kevin Harvick. Could he play the role of spoiler at this Championship race? Stay tuned. My no-brainer pick is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto. I will round out my team with Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon
 
Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Aric Almirola. Aric will start the race 10th on the grid. Aric has had an impressive career-best year in 2020 with six Top 5 finishes this year and 18 Top 10s. In addition, his 298 laps led is a career high for a season. At Phoenix Aric has earned six Top 10s, two Top 5s and has led 26 laps in 19 career starts here. He has finished outside of the Top 10 just once since joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

Last week's second-look driver Chris Buescher had a frustrating day at Martinsville. The No. 17 started 28th on the grid and drove up to the17th position early in the race, but got collected in a multi-car accident during the second stage, ending his day prematurely. Unfortunately, the damage proved too severe for the team to return to the track. Buescher ultimately finished the race 38th.

Points to Ponder:
  • Eight of the 48 (16.6%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix Raceway have been won from the front row: five from the pole and three from second starting position.
  • The third starting position is the most prolific starting position in the field producing more winners (seven) than any other starting position – the most recent was Denny Hamlin’s win in this race last season. 
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins at Phoenix Raceway with nine victories (2006 sweep, 2012 Playoff race, 2013 Playoff race, 2014 sweep, 2015 Spring race, 2016 Spring race, 2018 Spring race). 
  • Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Cup Series in laps led at Phoenix with 1,662 laps led in 33 starts. 
  • A total of 13 drivers have multiple wins at Phoenix Raceway: Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins among active drivers with nine followed by Jimmie Johnson (four), Kyle Busch (three), Matt Kenseth (two), Ryan Newman (two), Joe Logano (two) and Denny Hamlin (two). 
  • The most laps led by the race winner in a single NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway was 264 of the scheduled 312 laps (84.6%) by Kevin Harvick on November 9, 2014 – he started from the third position. 
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch lead all active series drivers in runner-up finishes at Phoenix with three second-place finishes each. 
  • Kevin Harvick (33 starts) leads all active drivers in average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway with a 9.3.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 3:00 p.m. ET on race day, Sunday, November 8.

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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 in 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. She also is on the NASCAR Expert Picks panel at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet (FRCS). When she isn’t crunching numbers, you’ll find Carol in business meetings or 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: Championship race at Phoenix NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Championship race at Phoenix Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Sunday, November 08, 2020 Rating: 5

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