The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series will wrap up the early West Coast swing with some short track racing from Phoenix Raceway. This track holds a special place on the NASCAR calendar because this is where all three series will race for the championship when November rolls around so it’s nice to get an early preview for this race. And for the second straight week this will be a Kyle Busch race as he returns to the 10-car for Kaulig Racing. Last week wasn’t as good of a result for Busch in his Xfinity Series debut with Kaulig, but read on below as to why this could be a much better week for that team.


Phoenix Raceway is a unique track. It is one mile in length with very low banking. It’s considered a “Dogleg Oval” according to Wikipedia and that makes sense given the layout. But there is very low banking/shallow banking so we qualify this track under the “short, flat track” umbrella. Unlike last week with Las Vegas, Phoenix doesn’t have a near identical sister track. However, we can draw comparisons to other short, flat tracks like New Hampshire, Martinsville, or maybe a track like Richmond and if we really need to reach then maybe we consider Nashville. 

This should be a very fun race with 200 laps on the table, which means we’ll get probably 120-130 dominator points once we account for cautions. Most lineup constructions will be focused on dominator points while targeting position differential and strong finishes elsewhere. But another thing we need to factor in is that this is the first “short” track of the season. Phoenix Raceway measures at one mile in length but it’ll still see plenty of drivers fall off the lead lap. If there aren’t many cautions in this race then over the long green flag runs, cars will fall off the lead lap, mostly in stage three. In this race one year ago there were only four cautions and only ten drivers finished on the lead lap and everyone outside the top 20 finished multiple laps down. If your drivers fall laps down that really caps their upside. Now the Spring race had only four cautions and we saw a lot of the field lose the lead lap. But in the Fall championship race, 27 drivers managed to stay on the lead lap because there were twice as many cautions so there weren’t as many lengthy green flag runs. The same holds true for the 2021 races at Phoenix. Each race had at least ten cautions where 25+ drivers were able to stay on the lead lap. The 2020 races saw fewer cautions, which led to longer green flag runs, and sure enough both races saw about half the field lose the lead lap. So all this is to say that if you’re targeting PD make sure they’re drivers that you feel confident can finish well and don’t be afraid to take some risks on a value play that’s staying in the top 20 because they can pay off their price tag if they simply stay on the lead lap and don’t lose their track position. Historically, there are certain teams that perform very well here so let’s dig into this week’s NASCAR DFS top plays for the United Rentals 200!

NASCAR DFS Driver Pool

My initial reaction to the driver pool is that pricing is very aggressive. Three drivers are priced over $11,000 which is a little absurd in my opinion. Basically it becomes increasingly difficult to play two of the top three drivers together, but it’s not impossible. Additionally, there are nine drivers over $9,000 so finding value this week becomes vital to DFS success. I fully anticipate significant updates to this section once we know the starting order, so do check back after qualifying and please join us in the NASCAR DFS Discord if you have any lineup or contest questions.

Kyle Busch ($13,500)

Yep. Looking like another Kyle Busch week with the elevated price tag. Look, from the sounds of it, a lot of us in the FAmily had a very successful night in last week’s Truck Series race where we went overweight on him. Then for the Xfinity Series race he didn’t seem happy with the car’s setup and he didn’t dominate enough laps to pay off the price tag and we were rightly underweight. This time around, I’m going to assume he’ll have more input with the setup, but we’ll see what happens Saturday morning with practice and qualifying for this race. Time to drop some ABSURD “Kyle Busch at Phoenix” stats on you. Now keep in mind, these results were during his time with Joe Gibbs Racing for the most part. From March 2013 – March 2020, Busch ran ten Xfinity races at Phoenix with JGR. He never finished worse than third and he won seven of those races. On top of that he led at least 115 laps in eight of those races. Overall at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series he has two dozen races under his belt with 11 wins and 17 top five finishes. So if the setup is right then he can run away with this race. We’ll have a good idea if the car is up to his standards before we lock in our builds but for now plan to have him in a healthy amount of your lineups. Update: Busch made an unapproved adjustment to fix an issue during practice so they didn't post a qualifying lap and they'll start at the rear of the field. He'll be popular in all formats.

John Hunter Nemechek ($11,900)

JHN has had a fantastic start to the 2023 campaign with Joe Gibbs Racing. Through the first three races, all on different tracks, he’s finished 2nd, 1st, and 6th and collected some dominator points along the way. He should find success once again this week given that JGR is one of the best teams when preparing cars for short, flat tracks. And overall JHN looks like one of the favorites to win the Xfinity Series Championship so far. Last year, he ran this race with Sam Hunt Racing and finished fifth while collecting some dominator points. In five career Xfinity Series races at Phoenix he has finishes of 9th or better in all five races. Earlier in the week he was my favorite driver to go out and dominate the early portions and win, but we’ll see how he looks following practice and qualifying. Update: A little worried about JHN. He sustained a little damage to the nose in practice but still seemed satisfied with the speed. He's fine for Tournaments but I may temper expectations in Cash games.

Justin Allgaier ($11,300)

Allgaier is going to be a popular dominator candidate for Saturday’s action. Simply put, he has plenty of experience here and he’s been awesome at this track. He’s raced here 25 times so let’s drop some stats. In his last 16 races here he has a driver rating of at least 100 in 15 of those races. And in the one race he didn’t, it was still 91.6 which isn’t terrible by any means. He’s usually running up front. Dating back to 2017, in his last 12 races here he’s been in the top ten at the end of the first and second stages in every single race. In eight of his last 12 races here he’s led at least 25 laps. He has two career wins here with nine top five finishes in his last 16 races. He’s very good and very consistent. He’s been great on the comparable tracks as well. He won New Hampshire last year and has finished in the top three at that track in each of the last three years. Nashville isn’t a great comparison for Phoenix because of it’s shape, but there isn’t a ton of banking at Nashville and he won that race a year ago as well. He’s also been great at tracks like Dover and Richmond throughout his career. I whiffed on him a week ago as my favorite dominator for the race at Vegas, but I do think he can go out and crush it this weekend in the desert. Update: On the front row. Will be a great dominator if he can steal the lead from Custer.

Cole Custer ($10,300)

If a little nervous about the damage to JHN's nose, you can save $1,000 and pivot to Custer who was fast in practice and qualified on the pole. He has a quick path to dominator points and it is possible to double-stack a lineup with Custer and Allgaier. It won't be a popular pairing in Tournaments because you're starting the front row, but there are enough dominator points here for both to feast.

Brandon Jones ($9,600)

Last week was a classic Brandon Jones week. Qualified 19th but had to go to the rear to start the race. Not a big deal since we really just wanted a top ten out of him; something he’s very capable of doing. He had a good car and worked his way through the field, but costly pit road penalties were his downfall. That’s the good and the bad with Jones: he comes with a ton of variance. He can win any week, but he can also get in his own way and screw the pooch. Chalk Brandon Jones never seems to be a good thing. But we wipe the slate clean and turn our attention to Phoenix. Jones found a lot of success at Phoenix with Joe Gibbs Racing. He won this race three years ago and he finished second last year in this race with 30 laps led. He had a 122.8 driver rating in this race a year ago and was consistently running in the top five. Now JGR typically performs very well at short, flat tracks so it was to be expected that his cars would always nail the setup. But Jr. Motorsports is an organization that is still among the elite in terms of equipment and ability to nail the setup for this race so I have faith he’ll have a good car. He also won last Spring’s Martinsville race if that makes you feel any better about playing him this week after last week’s dud. Update: Qualified outside the top 20. Similar narrative and PD play as last week when he busted. Wipe the slate clean and give him another shot.

Ryan Truex ($9,400)

Truex gets his turn in the JGR rotation this week as Joe Graf Jr. will be driving for RSS Racing. Now if you want my honest opinion, this price tag is stupid. I am only paying this premium for Truex if he’s starting pretty far back. I’ll eat that chalk because I have faith in him moving up through the field for a decent finish and a solid DFS return. He ran six races last year and scored top seven finishes in half of those including a great run at Martinsville. There are some gaps in his resume because he’s only been a part-time driver the last few years but he’s had impressive top 15 runs at New Hampshire and Phoenix including a runner-up finish five years ago at this track. There is a little risk simply because he just doesn’t get a lot of time behind the wheel. But then again, it’s a JGR car and the equipment is very good and he can grab a top ten if he stays clean. Update: The price tag is very high but he flashed speed in the short-and-long runs in practice and he's offering a little PD as well.

Austin Hill ($9,100)

I’m writing up Austin Hill because I need to give credit where it’s due. He has two wins on the season, but this isn’t necessarily style of track he’s excelled at in any series. He’s probably going to be a much better play next week for Atlanta. But the RCR cars have been strong as evidenced by Hill’s wins. But I will want to see how he and teammate Sheldon Creed look Saturday during practice and qualifying. He did grab a pair of top ten finishes at Martinsville last year and he was tenth in the Fall race at Phoenix. I don’t think I’ll be playing him in many of my builds just because I believe there are better options more comfortable at this track. Even dating back to the Truck Series, his results on short, flat tracks aren’t as good as they are at intermediates and superspeedways. Keep him in mind this weekend, but maybe we wait a week before going back to the well.

Daniel Hemric ($8,000)

I’m honestly not sure what to make of Daniel Hemric this week, but this is the site of his lone career win that led to him winning one of the flukiest championships in the history of NASCAR. But by the rules, it still qualifies and he did lead 48 laps in that championship race back in 2021 so more power to him. But he joined Kaulig last year after his brief tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing and he finished eighth in both Phoenix races a year ago. He has solid results on short, flat tracks but keep this in mind; his best results on these tracks came in his one year with Joe Gibbs Racing. Other than that, the results have been good, but not great. As a mid-to-top-tier play he’s probably good for a top five-to-ten finish and a dark horse to collect some dominator points. He might be one of the few drivers who is discounted for this week. Update: Qualified a little too high, but is playable in large-field GPP's if you're max entering.

Brett Moffitt ($7,300)

I initially had Moffitt in my write-up last week for Vegas and then he had to qualify P4 so that was an easy fade. Through two races with AM Racing this year he only has the top ten at Auto Club that stands out, but I think this keeps attention off him heading into Phoenix. My early-week analysis tends to favor Moffitt as a good DFS play. He actually had good results on short, flat tracks with Our Motorsports. He finished 14th and 9th at New Hampshire. He has three top 20 finishes at Martinsville, but last year he didn’t finish the race with a driveshaft issue. And even at this track he has five straight top 20 finishes, including three straight in the top 15 and he was top ten in both Phoenix races in 2021. He even has a win here during his time in the Truck Series. There’s obvious risk here, but Moffitt is a very good driver who just doesn’t have the financial backing that others do. Given the start to the year, he hasn’t been a great DFS play but that could change this week given his comfort level on this type of track. Update: I actually love this play for Tournaments. He qualified just inside the top 20 and ownership will be very light.

Connor Mosack ($7,100)

Mosack is a driver I want to monitor and watch in practice and qualifying. He’ll be making his 2023 Xfinity Series debut with Sam Hunt Racing, hence why he’s about $500 more than I was anticipating before DraftKings revealed the pricing for this week. This car seems to be okay and capable of contending for a top 20, maybe a top 15 finish. Tyler Reddick is an outstanding driver and he could only get this car to 13th last week at Vegas. Mosack doesn’t have a ton of experience on short, flat tracks but he did grab a top ten finish in the ARCA Series last year for Bret Holmes’ team. Again, this is someone to have on your radar in P&Q. I’d prefer to get him starting maybe P20-P25 so there is wiggle room for him to move up through the field and maintain lead lap status. I do think if he starts pretty far back then that will likely elevate his ownership given that he’s running the same equipment as Kaz Grala. Others will see the PD upside and I’ll fade him and hope that he can’t move up too much and lose the lead lap. Update: Probably okay in Cash games, but I do worry about him being lapped in the first stage and struggling to make up ground. Personally, I may fade him and let others throw exposure to him.

Jeremy Clements ($7,000)

It hasn't been a great start for Clements and you have to start thinking about the equipment under the hood. But he did qualify outside the top 25. I don't think I like the play in Cash games but we can give some consideration in Tournaments. He does have top 20 upside here, but that might be his ceiling unfortunately.

Kyle Weatherman ($6,300)

Anybody else shocked that Weatherman was roughly 20% owned in last week’s Tournament contests? We all know he can wheel even the worst equipment and he started P26. I wasn’t one bit surprised he moved up and finished 16th for an overall great day. This is a guy we’d all love to see in great equipment. Alas, we’re resigned to him in Our Motorsports equipment once again, but I won’t complain. He had some strong runs last year on short, flat tracks. He qualified P10 for DGM last year, but finished 30th. But once he went to Jesse Iwuji’s team he finished 16th at Martinsville (started P27), eighth at New Hampshire (started P20), and in the championship race at Phoenix last Fall he started P35 and finished 14th. Given that he impressed Our Motorsports enough last week, I’m very curious to see what he can do on this type of track. Update: Not as great of a play last week where he qualified P26, but P18 is still fine and he can get a top 15 here.

Parker Retzlaff ($6,200)

Retzlaff had a great start to the 2023 season with a top five finish at Daytona. However, hasn’t been useful for DFS the last two weeks, but I think that changes with Phoenix. On a part-time schedule last year, he made quite the impression on short, flat tracks. He actually qualified P6 for this race a year ago but a fuel pump issue ended his day with about 50 laps to go if memory serves correct. In the other eight races he ran last year he didn’t finish worse than 21st and that includes a top ten at Richmond, 12th place at Martinsville and Nashville, and 21st in the championship race back in November. His background shows that he’s more comfortable on short, flat tracks. I’m still weary of the equipment, but this type of track is his bread and butter. Update: Another favorite GPP play of mine as I don't anticipate a ton of ownership. Starts P15 and  looked great in qualifying.

Josh Williams ($5,800)

Williams was a big disappointment last week, but with a clean slate and putting that behind us, he’s had strong runs on short, flat tracks with DGM in the past. His first 18 races a year ago were with BJ McLeod Motorsports so it’s no surprise he finished outside the top 30 with a mechanical issue in this race a year ago. But he returned to DGM in the second half of the year and closed out the 2022 season finishing 22nd and 15th at Martinsville and Phoenix respectively. Two years ago on short, flat tracks he grabbed top 25 finishes at Phoenix-1, New Hampshire, and Martinsville. Then if we dig deeper back to 2021 and 2020 he’s had top 20 performances on this style of track including a couple top 15 finishes. I always feel like I get the bad version of Williams whenever I go heavy on him, but there is a very strong argument on this style of track for Williams. Update: Not in love with the P20 qualifying effort. If you play Williams for value, just know you're hoping he can stay on the lead lap into stage three. But it's likely he goes backward with a very low ceiling. Jeffrey Earnhardt is a good pivot for $100 and he starts P31.

Bayley Currey ($5,300)

Similar to the brief mention of Earnhardt above, Currey is a good paydown option. I doubt he breaks the slate like he did a few years ago when he finished 7th, but he started outside the top 30 and can get you PD here, but I don't think he stays on the lead lap.

Garrett Smithley ($4,800)

For what it’s worth, Smithley is not very good. He holds a special place in my heart because he helped me with a takedown in the Xfinity Series back in 2021 that resulted in me making a couple thousand bucks. But I know he’s not the greatest driver. What interests me this week is that the entry list came out and he was listed in the 91-car for DGM Racing. So I did a bit of an eyeroll and can say, I’m slightly interested in this spot because of the equipment. Ryan Larkin (@Larkin8 on Twitter) of Daily Fantasy Racing would most likely call me an idiot for even considering this play. But like I said, Smithley’s worked for me in the past. Last Spring Smithley started P34 at Charlotte and finished 21st with DGM. He does have some top 25 finishes at New Hampshire and Phoenix dating back to his time with JD Motorsports so I’m somewhat interested. This isn’t a guy to lock into your builds as a value play, especially because there is the possibility that this is BJ McLeod equipment (the team that Smithley is signed to) but with a DGM wrap. We’ll know more once we get eyes on practice and qualifying. Update: Don't love the play as much as I did earlier in the week. He starts P30, probably gets lapped, and maybe only has top 25 upside.

Leland Honeyman Jr. ($4,600)

I won’t lie. Every week it feels like I write up the same drivers and that’s just what happens when the driver pool consists of probably 80-85% of the same drivers every week. So when the entry list comes out each week it’s always fun to see new drivers and what teams they’re driving for this year because it potentially gives me someone new to write up. Honeyman makes his Xfinity Series debut attempting to race for Alpha Prime Racing. We know the equipment hasn’t been great nor have their setups on this West coast swing, but Honeyman’s cheap and is a bit of a no-namer to most NASCAR DFS players. What sticks out to me is that his resume in the ARCA series is mostly on short, flat tracks and the only track he’s struggled at is Bristol which is unique because of it’s high banking and it doesn’t really compare to Phoenix. But he finished second last year at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola. He also grabbed top ten finishes at Nashville, Iowa, Dover, and Milwaukee. Now remember, this was the ARCA Series and this is a massive step up in competition for him and he literally turned 18 a little over two weeks ago. It’s much more likely that he doesn’t amount to much in this race, but it’s also very likely he’s a value play with almost no ownership and he finished Friday's ARCA race in the top ten so he's already logged some laps. Assuming he starts far back I’d consider getting some exposure in two or three of my 20 lineups and that should still put me overweight compared to the field. Update: I actually like this spot for Honeyman. He ran last night's race, this is his home track and he's offering PD in okay equipment. It's a bold play for Tournaments (I wouldn't go here in Cash games), but this reminds me of when we nailed Bayley Currey here a couple years ago when he finished 7th.


The Core Plays will be published in a separate article around 3:45pm ET.