The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship after Christopher Bell‘s win at Martinsville. Let’s dive into the track information NASCAR DFS players need to know, what to expect at this weekend’s race, and early NASCAR fantasy advice.
NASCAR DFS: NASCAR Cup Series Championship
Phoenix Raceway Information
- Track: Phoenix Raceway
- Location: Avondale, Arizona
- Length: 1 mile (asphalt)
- Banking: 8 degrees in turns one and two, 10 degrees in turns three and four
- Best corollary tracks: Richmond, New Hampshire
- Dominator Points:
- DraftKings: 78 – laps led, 140.4 – fastest laps
- FanDuel: 31.2 – laps led
- Past winners: Chase Briscoe (2022), Kyle Larson (2021-B), Martin Truex Jr. (2021-A)
- Betting favorite: Chase Elliott +230
- Entry List: 36 drivers, including Garrett Smithley (15), A.J. Allmendinger (16), Landon Cassill (77)
- Weather: High of 72 degrees, sunny
- Watch: NBC, NBCSports.com
- Listen: MRN (MRN, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/XM Channel 90)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Friday, November 4
- 5:05 p.m.: Practice
- Saturday, November 5
- 12:30 p.m.: Qualifying
- Sunday, November 6
- 3:00 p.m.: Green flag (60/185/312 laps)
2022 Cup Series Championship NASCAR DFS Picks
2022 Xfinity 500 Recap and Championship Standings
Then there were four. The process of getting there was nothing short of spectacular though.
As expected, Martinsville was tough to pass at and it set the stage for several drivers to eat up chunks of the race. The final 20% of the race fell into the lap of Christopher Bell and it looked like he was going to sail away and lock himself into the championship four. However, Landon Cassill sailed off into the wall with less than 40 laps remaining setting up a crucial decision for drivers and crew chiefs, come in for fresh tires in the final dash to the end or stay out for track position and hope to hold on.
That’s precisely the bargain that Chase Briscoe and the 14-team made as they traded new tires for the lead as his points deficit was enough he would need the outright win in order to advance to the championship. The negotiation paid off initially as Briscoe took off with the lead but eventually Christopher Bell, the first driver off pit road with four fresh tires, caught up to Briscoe and passed him for the lead. Coincidentally, Bell was in the same position as Briscoe needing a win to advance to the championship round, and he was going to be able to cash in with one of the few cars that were able to pass on Sunday.
As the laps ticked off, the championship picture was becoming clearer. Joey Logano was locked in via his win at Las Vegas. Chase Elliott, while not guaranteed, had enough of a cushion that he was going to make it in via points as long as he didn’t end up in a random wreck. Bell was going to grab the third seat via his win which meant just one championship spot was up for grabs. Following that final restart, Ross Chastain held a minuscule lead over Denny Hamlin, but Chastain’s car wasn’t hooking up correctly on this short run and he was losing spots meanwhile Hamlin had nowhere to go now that he was in the top five and stuck in dirty air. On the final lap, Chastain was down four points, and outside of a wreck, Hamlin was going to Phoenix to fight for his first championship. Then Ross Chastain broke the internet.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 31, 2022
In one of the craziest maneuvers in recent NASCAR memory, Chastain rode the wall and picked up enough spots to surpass Hamlin and put himself into the championship. Thus, this Sunday at Phoenix, the foursome of Logano, Elliott, Bell, and Chastain will fight for the 2022 title.
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For those digging into the research, they can begin by combing through this past Spring’s race – won by Chase Briscoe. However, since Phoenix became the site of the Championship race, DFS players have seen that what happens in the Spring isn’t necessarily representative of the Fall event. To begin, teams and drivers evolve over the course of a 36-race season and these two Phoenix races are occurring nearly nine months apart from one another. However, the biggest issue is that the stakes for these races are worlds apart. In the Spring, this was just the fourth race of the new season and there was no reason for the bulk of the drivers to overthink that race. Now… everything is on the line for the four drivers competing for the championship while the other 32 drivers might be looking to move up a position or two in the final standings, but most are either looking forward to their end-of-season vacation or just avoiding being the reason why someone won or lost the championship. Here’s looking at David Starr who single-handedly changed the championship last year. Oddly enough, last year’s Championship race wasn’t the only event he directly impacted.
Whether looking at Phoenix or Homestead, the drivers involved in the hunt for the championship have generally been the drivers to lead the race and compete for the win. Some conspiracy theorists may chalk this up to NASCAR giving these drivers additional horsepower, removing weight, or whatever tin-foil-hat-inspired ideas they can conjure as to why these four specific drivers perform so much better than the field. Yet, the simple explanation is the silent negotiation that the field makes with one another about the non-championship drivers getting out of the way and letting the four decide the title among themselves. Furthermore, the championship four should theoretically be the best four drivers in the field. Thus, the top four drivers leading the bulk of laps and competing for the win should be of no surprise to fans and DFS players alike.
In lieu of this, lineups should be a mix of Logano, Elliott, Bell, and Chastain as primary lap leaders but practice and qualifying will go a long way in determining just how true this is. With a 50-minute practice session on tap for Friday, these four will have plenty of time to demonstrate just what kind of short and long-run speed they have. Plus, if Phoenix is anything like its Spring counterpart, starting position might be the deciding factor in how heavy DFS players should roster one driver versus another. Among this foursome, Logano and Elliott emerge with the best recent numbers at Phoenix as both won here in the 2020 season while also averaging over 50 laps led per event. On the flip side, Chastain had the best finish of everyone (second) in the Spring event while Bell has gone first, second, and first in the last three races at short, flat venues in the Generation Seven car.
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