Following a stop at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is moving from one desert to another, as drivers will race Sunday in the Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
If the fourth race of the 2017 NASCAR season is anything like the previous three races, we’re in for a pretty unpredictable afternoon. Given the struggles of some veteran racers, as well as the success of younger drivers, picking your fantasy lineup can be pretty difficult. That, however, is where we come in.
You might have a budget, or you might have a limit to the amount of times you can pick a given driver. Whatever your league’s format, we’ve got you covered in determining who to ride with Sunday, and who to stay away from.
Must pick: Kevin Harvick
No need to overthink this pick, as Harvick is the clear choice. Considering Harvick’s won six of the last nine races at the track, saying the Stewart-Haas racing driver has enjoyed his time in Arizona would be a vast understatement. Life in the desert has been even better for Harvick since he joined SHR, as he’s led 994 laps at Phoenix since 2014.
Stay away: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Spending time at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was probably the most fun Earnhardt has had behind the wheel all year. Although he finished 16th in Las Vegas, Earnhardt finished 30th or lower in his previous two races, despite showing strong pace in the early stages.
Sooner or later, things likely will improve for Earnhardt, but right now he’s much too unreliable to be in your fantasy lineups.
Sleeper pick: Ryan Blaney
Among NASCAR’s many talented young drivers, Blaney perhaps has been one of the most impressive this season.
Blaney has finished in the top 20 in each race this season, including a seventh-place finish at LVMS and sixth in the Daytona 500. The Wood Brothers Racing driver is a low-risk, high-reward pick in most fantasy formats, and could find himself victory lane for the first time in Cup sooner rather than later.
Value pick: Daniel Suarez
The rookie has improved in each race this season, finishing 29th at Daytona, then 21st at Atlanta Motor Speedway and finally 20th at LVMS. Suarez has had plenty of success at Phoenix when racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, as he’s had top-five finishes in each of his last four races at the track.
Suarez hasn’t been overly impressive so far this season, but he’s shown flashes of talent, and a breakout could be in store Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports Images