Call 811 Before You Dig 200 (Xfinity)

Phoenix Raceway

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Welcome, Speed Degens, to my DFS preview of this week’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway! This may be one of the oddest names I’ve seen for a race, but it’s always good to see sponsorship in the sport, regardless. Last week at Vegas, several members reached out to me to share their big wins. Eventually, I’ll have the same success that others have, using my advice, but I digress. Let’s dig in!

Lineup Construction

  • Fall 2020: 9 of the top 10 finishers started in the top 10; likewise, 11 of the top 15 starters also finished in the top 15. Only two teams had over 30 hog points (Cindric, Allgaier).
  • Spring 2020:  8 of the top 10 finishers started in the top 10; likewise, 12 of the top 15 starters also finished in the top 15. Only two teams had over 20 hog points (Busch, Allgaier), with another scoring over 15 hog points (Jones).
  • Each optimal featured three drivers priced over $9k and multiple punts priced below $6k. As far as starting position is concerned, given the bullets above, it’s not surprising to see drivers starting in the top 10 in the optimal lineups.
  • This race will almost certainly have at least two dominators in the winning lineup. Fitting these dominators will likely require more of a stars and scrubs approach. However, going with one main dom and going more balanced could be a profitable contrarian strategy.

Drivers to Target

$10k and above

Justin Allgaier (12) – This is statistically one of Allgaier’s best tracks, making sense considering his prowess on flat-banked tracks and short tracks. You may look at his recent Phoenix finishes and be scared away by three finishes outside the top 10 in the past five races. However, he has had over 20 hog points in 5 of the last 6 Phoenix races. Only one other driver has even achieved that many hog points once! Allgaier had the fastest car (outside of Kyle Busch) here last spring, and I expect that to continue. He’s starting a bit further back, and this is a track where it can be hard to pass, so there is some risk at his price point. It needs at least 16 hog points to have a chance at being in the optimal lineup. Is the risk worth his high price, though?

Austin Cindric (3) – The last time we were at Phoenix, Cindric won the race and, consequently, the 2020 Xfinity series championship. He scored 46 hog points (the only other instance of a driver not named Allgaier in this field scoring over 20) and had the fastest car. Before that, however, he was in contention for top 5 finishes at Phoenix but not for the wins. Was his car given more leniency last fall since it was the championship race, or has he figured this place out? He should have the potential to lead early, starting this close to the front. It needs at least 20 hog points to have a chance at being in the optimal lineup.

AJ Allmendinger (4) – I’m hoping he goes overlooked with the other strong drivers starting in the top 5, but I like Allmendinger’s chances to be a dominator this week. When he was in the Cup Series in subpar equipment, he contended for top 15 finishes here. Now, he is in a top-tier ride and ranked 1st and 2nd in driver rating over the past two weeks. His road course prowess should come in handy at a track with similar banking and braking patterns. Like the others mentioned above, AJ needs at least 15 hog points to be optimal.

**Note: It is tough for me not to recommend the other drivers in this range. Noah Gragson had good finishes here last year and performed decently, but I don’t feel confident in this chance at leading this week. If anyone proved me wrong, it would be Noah, who seems to be driving with a little more fire under him this season. Harrison Burton is a driver I was high on at Phoenix last fall, but he was disappointed with a 6th place finish. He did finish 2nd here in the spring but ran around 5th to 7th most of the race before a late caution. These drivers could win the race, but I believe in the three listed above to score more hog points. Riley Herbst is a safe bet to score someplace differential points but not enough to outscore the dominators. I would only consider him in cash games. Safe, but not likely to win your contest for you.

$8k to $10k

Brandon Jones (2) – I hate rostering this guy, but it’s hard to ignore his success at this track. He won the race here last spring and finished 3rd in the fall with 19 and 8 hog points, respectively. That win required him to pass Kyle Busch for the win late in the race. Starting on the front row, it’s possible he beats his teammate, Daniel Hemric, at the start and leads the first stage. They ranked similarly in position retention on restarts last season, so it’s hard to give one an edge over the other. Plus, he has some fast cars directly behind him in the second row. I think Jones is a solid bet to finish the top 3, but even if he were to win, he needs 11 hog points to hit 6x value, which he had only done once at Phoenix last spring.

Ty Gibbs (27) – The 18-year old took home the win in his first Xfinity series start a few weeks ago at the Daytona road course. He’s back this week in that same #54 car, albeit at a more accurate salary than Draftkings gave us last time. Gibbs raced in the ARCA series at Phoenix last season and came home with a 3rd place finish, and 122 laps led. He also ran here in the ARCA West series and finished 2nd with 77 laps led. In 2019, he raced at Phoenix in the K&N West series, winning and leading 38 laps. It’s obvious he has the talent and knows how to get around this track. I am not too worried about the cars being too different, especially when he provides place differential upside and only needs an 8th place finish to return 6x value—one of my favorite plays on the slate.

Ryan Sieg (31) – Sieg is always a top 5 threat, despite being in cars that should finish around 10th to 15th, in my opinion. He was running 9th here in last year’s season finale before a mechanical issue relegated him to a 31st place finish. Similar flat banked tracks in 2020, Sieg had finishes of 11, 12, 15, 11. Before last fall, his recent finishes at Phoenix were 11, 13, and 10. He needs to finish 11th for 6x or 15th for 5x. Either way, if there are no issues, I fully expect Sieg to finish in the top 15, as he spent 96% of the laps in last spring’s race inside the top 15. I like Sieg a lot this week, but it will depend on if I have enough salary left. To fit the dominators, I may be forced to choose between him and Gibbs. 

**Note: Daniel Hemric could easily be one of the main dominators, starting on the pole. The polesitter has been top 2 in hog points scored in each of the last 6 Phoenix races. However, qualifying dictated the starting lineup in 5 of those, with the other being the championship race where the fastest cars were upfront. He’s in good equipment, but he’s let us down so many times and is still yet to win a race at any level. Myatt Snider looked like a solid play to me early in the week, given his RCR equipment, until I realized that he barely even broke the top 10 at Phoenix in either race in the same car last season.

$6k to $8k

Josh Berry (9) – Berry doesn’t have any experience here and is still relatively new to these Xfinity series cars, but his short-track late-model background should help him acclimate and feel comfortable quickly. He has been more impressive than I expected so far in 2021, finishing 11th and 7th in the past two weeks at tracks I expected him to struggle at. Ryan Truex and Zane Smith piloted berry’s #8 car in 2019 to 2nd and 5th place finishes. His crew chief, Taylor Moyer, knows how to build a fast race car here, but can Josh maximize its potential?

JJ Yeley (33) – The Arizona native will likely want to do well at his hometown track. As mentioned in previous weeks, this car is a top 20 car, especially with Yeley behind the wheel. He finished 13th at Homestead a few weeks ago and has three finishes of 21st or better in his last 5 Phoenix races. Needs 18th for 6x value.

**Note: Michael Annett and Jeb Burton are potentially in play, but both need to win the race to hit value without hog points. I think there’s a higher chance that Berry finishes 3rd than either of them winning. There will be some industry buzz around Alex Labbe, given his 36th starting position. I may consider him if the builds fall that way, but he needs 17th to hit value which I see as his ceiling. I expect him to finish around 20th-23rd, which wouldn’t be enough to optimal at his price.

$6k and below

All punts appear risky this week, but they’ll likely be needed if trying to jam in 2-3 dominators.

Bayley Currey (29), Kyle Weatherman (26) – The Mike Harmon Racing cars driven by Currey and Weatherman are always risky. However, they ranked 1st and 2nd in top 15 efficiency last season, meaning that they had the most significant difference between the percentage of laps run in the top 15 and finishes in the top 15. This indicates that they overachieved in their equipment last season. At Phoenix specifically, Currey finished 15th, and Weatherman finished 17th. Whether it was the result of the teams spending more to end the season on a good note or the drivers continuing to do better than expected, I like that both teams had similar success. They were 2 of the four teams that had gained more than ten spots from their starting position last fall, with Currey running 65% of his laps within the top 15. They’re starting a little further toward the front than I would like, but they’re firmly in my pool. Currey has more upside, but Weatherman si the dead minimum salary.

Blaine Perkins (28) – This is a name many won’t recognize. Perkins has no Xfinity experience but did have three wins in the ARCA West series in 2020. Unfortunately, he suffered a mechanical issue in the Phoenix race, so we don’t have much to go off of. He will be in the Our Motorsports that Tyler Reddick drove at Homestead to a 2nd place finish. He should be able to finish top 20, barring any issues, which would easily pay off his cheap price tag.

**Note: I’m done getting burnt by Stefan Parsons until further notice. Loris Hezemans is the defending NASCAR EuroSeries champion, so I doubt he’d be starting and parking here, but he is in inadequate equipment, so I’m not expecting much more than a top 25 finish. Josh Williams is likely too cheap, but he’s also starting further up than I feel comfortable playing. Maybe if I land on him with my last spot…

Final Thoughts

This week, nailing the dominators will be essential, as will choosing the correct value plays. It will be challenging to choose one over another, but as it stands, here is how I would rank those priced above $10k from best to worst: Allmendinger, Allgaier, Cindric, Jones, Gragson, Burton. You can choose to chase the PD points with Herbst if you’d like, but these other drivers will most likely outscore him.

Cash Core: Gibbs, Sieg, Yeley, Perkins

GPP Core: Gibbs, Yeley, 1-2 dominators priced around or above 10k.

Best of luck, Speed Degens! For further reference, consult my preseason article on how to win at NASCAR DFS in the Xfinity Series. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to join and ask in our FREE Fantasy Sports Degens slack chat or hit me up on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308). Did I mention it was all free?! Looking forward to continuing the green screen streak another week!