NASCAR DFS Playbook Xfinity Series Championship: Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson Seek The Championship At Phoenix
Published: Nov 05, 2022
Updated: Nov 05, 2022
Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race led to a profitable night for myself and hopefully a few of you as well. Congratulations go out to Zane Smith, a driver who competed in the Championship Four a year ago, didn’t win, and went into the offseason without a ride and only received an offer from front Row Motorsports. And in 2022, he’s the Truck Series champion. But now we focus on Saturday’s Xfinity Series race where there is absolutely no shortage of drama. Last week at Martinsville saw Ty Gibbs spin his own teammate, Brandon Jones, to effectively eliminate Jones from the Championship Four. That means Gibbs has a very tough challenge ahead of him today as he’ll be fighting for the title against three Jr. Motorsports drivers: Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, and Josh Berry. There’s been much talk all week (especially from Gragson) that’s really hyped up this race and added significant drama so let’s not waste any time and take a look at today’s NASCAR DFS picks.
Saturday’s race gives us 200 laps for the standard 45-45-110 breakdown between the three stages. We have anywhere from 120-135 dominator points available so by all means, do what you can to make some two-dominator lineups. I tend to subscribe to the argument that this is a low-variance track. However, the Xfinity Series has exhibited more variance this year because there are just some bad, inexperienced drivers at this level and it’s certainly made it more fun to watch, but at the expense of DFS. Unless I can make a lineup that I feel 100% confident in for Cash games and Double Up’s, I think I’m mostly avoiding those contests. There are too many X-factors for Saturday’s race. Will Brandon Jones wreck his teammate, Ty Gibbs, as a gift to his future team? Will Noah Gragson dump Ty Gibbs? Will Ty Gibbs wreck somebody else on his war path to get to the front by race’s end and then claim he’s still trying to grow and learn? For all these reasons, I’m playing this race pretty light. I really want to enjoy the final Xfinity Series race of 2022 and not tilt too much after a profitable night on Friday.
Similar to Friday’s Truck Series Playbook, I don’t think I’ll have much time for updates to this Playbook once we know the starting order. So once again, just be in the NASCAR DFS Discord channel and I’ll be taking questions, offering up the Core Plays, and highlighting drivers I’m upgrading and downgrading after qualifying.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Practice Notes
NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Drivers
Noah Gragson ($11,400)
The Championship drivers will be quite popular and rightfully so. They have the most to race for and the field doesn’t want to get in their way. Gragson won this race in the Spring leading over 100 laps with a 148.4 driver rating and he’s the odds-on favorite to win at about 2-1 on DK Sportsbook. I don’t love the betting value on that, but with eight wins under his belt this season (including five in the playoffs), we’d obviously love to see Gragson wrap up his Xfinity Series career win a championship win before joining Petty GMS next season. There’s plenty of win equity and dominator potential with this play.
Ty Gibbs ($11,000)
Gibbs is annoying. He’s very easy to dislike. The move last week got under everybody’s skin. The entire garage was saying it was a dirty move. He needed a large security escort from victory lane because he pissed off the crowd and the garage so bad. And then he went and compared himself to JESUS. This is fairly on brand with what JGR allows nowadays and I’m sure Brandon Jones must be ecstatic about joining JRM in 2023. But there’s no denying Gibbs’ talent. He’s won six races this year including a dominating performance earlier this year at Richmond which draws comparisons to Phoenix. He’s getting +250 odds to win, which I don’t think are necessarily great with the possibility of him getting wrecked. I can’t really suggest how heavy or light you should be. He’s pissed off so many people this year, Noah Gragson straight up declared that he doesn’t like Ty Gibbs, and it’s possible he gets dumped or somehow screws himself. The crowd will go nuts if that happens so use your best judgment if playing him today.
Justin Allgaier ($10,600)
Now we can talk about a pair of JRM drivers that aren’t garnering the headlines or notoriety, but still have a legitimate shot at winning the Xfinity Series Championship. Allgaier has an abundance of experience at Phoenix. He’s raced here 24 times, he’s won here twice, with 16 top ten finishes, and eight top five finishes. If you go all the way back to 2013 (his last 15 races here), he’s had a driver rating of at least 100.0 in 14 of those races. He’s really thrived on this track and the comparable tracks. He won Nashville earlier this year, which probably races more like an intermediate, but he also won New Hampshire which is a similar short, flat track and he’s thrived at Richmond. He’s quietly a very strong play and one the sportsbooks like quite a bit at +350 to win the race.
Josh Berry ($10,300)
The cheapest of the Championship Four is no slouch. He can easily win this race. Josh Berry is basically the Ty Majeski of the Xfinity Series. Just a good story of a driver who busted his ass to get an opportunity as a part-time driver, then was given a full-time deal, and by all accounts is well liked in the garage. He started eighth and finished third here in the Spring and he did lead 40 laps in last week’s race at Martinsville despite finishing 20th. He does come from a short, flat track background so this is a track he can thrive at. He’s a great Tournament play if he ends up being the lowest-rostered player of the four drivers in the championship hunt, but let’s re-assess after qualifying.
Remaining Driver Pool
Austin Hill ($9,600)
Hill’s cars have shown up with speed every week. Some of you may be wondering why I glossed over AJ Allmendinger and I just don’t know how motivated he is at the moment. He failed to qualify for the Championship Four and I wonder if the wind has been taken out of his sails because he really wanted to win a championship, but now moves back up to the Cup Series on a full-time schedule in 2023. With Hill, I feel like there’s plenty of motivation and we’ve seen Dinger’s cars just be okay on non-superspeedways and non-road courses. Hill seems to always compete and run well. He finished fourth and ninth in both Martinsville races this year and he had some good runs at Phoenix in the Truck Series. He doesn’t have a teammate in the Championship Four so he can race as hard as he wants.
Brandon Jones ($9,400)
It would be great for Jones to win in his final Xfinity Series race with JGR, but let’s be honest it likely won’t happen. Everybody wants to see him wreck Gibbs, but Jones is too respectful of an individual to do that. But he’d gain a ton of fans if he did. One thing that should surprise nobody is that the JGR cars are fast this weekend. Jones, Sammy Smith, and Ty Gibbs were the three fastest cars in single-lap, and ten-lap averages. That should surprise nobody. This organization thrives on this style of track and should have their drivers contending. Jones has a win here from the Spring of 2020 and he was runner-up in the Spring to Gragson. We all saw how good he was last week at Martinsville and it should carry over to this week as long as he doesn’t kamikaze his ride to end Gibbs’ day.
Riley Herbst ($8,700)
I’m kind of digging Herbst today. I think there’s a solid 40+ point performance here. He did wreck in the Phoenix race in the Spring, but he was fifth at Richmond, sixth and third at the two Martinsville races, and he had a top ten car in practice which should surprise no one. As long as he isn’t wrecking there’s top five upside. I do have some concerns that he allows the championship drivers by later in the race which would kill his DFS upside, but he did finish fourth in both Phoenix races in 2021.
Sammy Smith ($8,500)
I’m fairly surprised by the pricing but I think DraftKings is reacting to the DFS output in three of his last four appearances. He put up 11 points last week, 22 at Bristol, and -32 at Daytona (but don’t hold that against him… It’s Daytona after all). The car will have speed and he’ll be able to run up front. We saw in practice how good the JGR cars look so we shouldn’t have concerns about the speed. Now the results are worrisome especially if he qualifies well. I doubt he holds his position at the finish if he starts in the top five because he’ll be following team orders to give Gibbs the better track position and overall, I imagine he doesn’t want to get in the way of the other three championship drivers. I still really like this price tag for a JGR car in tournaments and would love to get some PD out of him.
Parker Retzlaff ($7,600)
No surprise, right? Retzlaff was outstanding on shorter, flat track earlier this year on his part-time schedule. I miss those days when he was so cheap. $7,600 is a fair price but he’s running the Our Motorsports’ 02-car on Saturday so be aware. That being said, he was running in the top 15 in the Spring race at Phoenix, but unfortunately had a fuel pump issue that ended his day. But he bounced back grabbing a top 10 at Richmond in the Spring, he was 12th at Martinsville (Spring), and he’s actually exceeded my expectations at the intermediate tracks in the playoffs especially with his 16th place finish at Homestead a couple weeks ago. There wasn’t much speed to get excited about during practice but given that his background fits so well at this type of track, I feel comfortable getting exposure here just based solely off resume and comfort level on flatter tracks.
Nicholas Sanchez ($7,500)
There’s this small part of me that thinks Sanchez really wants to prove something this weekend. In three of five races with Big Machine Racing, he’s finished in the top 12 including a seventh-place finish at Martinsville last week. He clearly has talent, and like Retzlaff, you want to see what he can do with a full-time opportunity. He didn’t get that with Big Machine next year. But there were rumors going around that he’d get a full-time ride with KBM in the Truck Series. That will happen to an extent. He’s essentially going to be a third satellite car for KBM while guys like Chase Purdy and Jack Wood drive the other trucks. Make it make sense. I really like Sanchez on Saturday at this price tag. The equipment is good and he was top ten in single-lap and ten-lap averages.
Kyle Weatherman ($7,300)
A disappointing result last week at Martinsville? Sure. Enough to move me away from him this week? Nope! He posted a top ten single-lap in practice and stayed in the top 15 across the ten-lap run and wasn’t terribly far off JGR’s pace. He grabbed a top ten at New Hampshire earlier this summer, while showing the ability to finish in the top 20 on a few occasions as well. I’m hoping he becomes a bit of a PD play, but it would take an early disastrous qualifying run and he’s been getting the most out of this equipment this year.
Brandon Brown ($7,100)
I’ll be brief here because he’s not in his 68-car, but he’s had success at Phoenix. He’s never finished worse than 20th and he’s finished in the top 13 in four of his last five races here. He’s in the 08-car which is likely to keep our expectations in check because he was slow in practice. But if he starts way in the back and can fight to stay on the lead lap and steal another top 20 then he’s a good play. But the price tag makes it very difficult to roster him with confidence especially when he’s not in the 68-car. We’ll know what to do with him based on where he qualifies.
Stefan Parsons ($6,600)
It’s tough to see where Parsons is at, but I do like the he can close out the year with one more race with Alpha Prime. Parsons has wrecked in his last two races, but he’s flashed top 15 upside in the 45-car. I don’t want to dwell on the results at the flat tracks from earlier in the year because those came with BJ McLeod’s team and those cars are not the greatest. Alpha Prime is a bit of an upgrade and he’s had some very strong runs. Here’s to hoping he has one more in him.
Alex Labbe ($6,300)
Sick of me talking about Labbe yet? He’s posted 35+ points on DraftKings in four of his last five races and they continue to drop his price? I don’t get it. Now it could be a trap because Labbe doesn’t have an overwhelmingly impressive resume at Phoenix. However, he did finish in the top 20 here in the Spring and he has momentum after two impressive finishes at Homestead and Martinsville. He dropped the seventh-fastest single lap on his 22nd and final lap of practice and the team seemed satisfied with the speed so they took him off the track. I think you can also consider Josh Williams for $700 cheaper off Labbe if you need the salary savings. I trust Labbe more, but Williams did have a productive day for us last week and had top 20 speed in practice. I am concerned he could fall off the lead lap early on and that would limit his upside.
Rajah Caruth ($6,000)
Rajah Caruth still very young and very green. He has a lot to learn and he got a stern lesson from Jeb Burton on pit road after last weekend’s action at Martinsville. They talked it out and moved on. That’s how it’s done. Caruth logged a top 12 finish last week. Caruth ran Friday’s Truck Series race but was involved in a wreck in stage three. But he’s flashed some top 20 speed and that was the case in practice Friday night and I think he’s a viable paydown in Tournaments for Saturday’s race. We saw on Friday and last week, that a higher starting position likely means you can stay on the lead lap and that could be the case for Caruth this evening.
Kris Wright ($5,700)
We’re seeing price correction on Wright as the price has dropped below $6K because DK finally realizes there isn’t much talent, despite the equipment being decent. This is a pretty good one-car team, but they just struggle with sponsorship. Brandon Brown has driven his team to seven top 20 finishes in as many races including five top 15’s. Wright doesn’t have that upside, but I anticipate that he’ll qualify poorly and could possibly sneak into the top 25 and I think we’d be okay with that floor.
Bayley Currey ($5,200)
He’s burned us the last couple weeks with two DFS performances in the negatives. But there’s still top 20 upside for Currey and he can be a great Tournament play as well with plenty of DFS outings returning 30+ points this year. Currey had top 25 speed in practice which is perfectly fine at this price tag. If he can sneak into the top 20 and finish then he could very well be optimal.
NASCAR DFS Core Plays
The NASCAR DFS Core Plays will be posted in the NASCAR DFS Discord Channel around 5:00pm ET.
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