Phoenix is one of those tracks where it’s all about track position, so it’s not that surprising that over the last few races here we have seen the drivers that qualified up front also finish up there. This race on Sunday could easily come down to a pit strategy call or a good restart by one of the drivers up front. Joey Logano, who won the race here at Phoenix last November, is on the pole for this year’s Camping World 500(k) and the full starting lineup can be found here. There were two practice sessions on Saturday afternoon, and those results can be found here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour. The notes for those sessions can be found here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Ranking For Phoenix
1. Joey Logano – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $10,500 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
There’s not a new sheriff in Phoenix but there looks to be a changing of the guard. When we were last here back in November, Joey Logano broke through with his first career win at PIR, and he definitely has the car to beat heading into this Sunday’s Camping World 500(k). In addition to qualifying on the pole for this weekend’s race, the #22 Ford was consistently fast in both practice sessions on Saturday, ranking 2nd on the overall speed chart in the first practice and P1 during Happy Hour. When it came to ten-lap average, Joey was 20th-best in that final session, but that’s not a huge concern because that run wasn’t made until later in the session. It may not look like the #22 Ford has good long run speed this weekend, but Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, looks fine, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that these two teams nearly mirror each other with speed on race weekends. Plus, Logano was so calm during Happy Hour that you could almost tell exactly how confident he is heading into Sunday. The races here at Phoenix all come down to track position, and nobody is in a better position than Logano this weekend. That #1 pit stall will help this #22 team a lot on Sunday, in addition to having a super fast car. As far as his record here at Phoenix, Logano has six top 10 finishes in the last seven races in the desert, three of which were also top 5s.
2. Kyle Busch – Starts 9th – DraftKings Price: $10,100 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Medium-to-Low Risk**
Despite not having a top 15 finish in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season thus far, Rowdy Busch is one of the best choices in the field this weekend. He will roll off the grid from back in 9th when Sunday’s Camping World 500(k) goes green, but should be well within the top 5 before the first round of pit stops are underway. All eyes in the garage area were on that #18 Toyota during Happy Hour on Saturday as Busch, hands down, had the most consistent car in terms of speed, posting the 3rd-fastest overall lap and the 3rd-best ten-lap average as well. Busch has finished inside the top 5 in each of his last three starts here at Phoenix and inside the top 10 in seven of his last nine. My not-so-bold prediction: Kyle Busch moves Joey Logano out of the way in the late stages of the race as payback for last week at Las Vegas, en route to his second career victory at Phoenix International Raceway.
3. Kyle Larson – Starts 4th – DraftKings Price: $9,100 – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Larson wound up 3rd here at Phoenix last November, which was the first time he finished better than 10th here in the desert, and don’t be surprised if he replicates that result here on Sunday. Larson tends to be one of the streakiest drivers and the garage, and right now he has more momentum than ever after posting another 2nd-place finish at Las Vegas last week. As far as this weekend goes, Larson wounded up 4th in qualifying on Friday before going out and posting the 3rd-fastest lap in Practice #2 on Saturday. The #42 Chevrolet was also 4th-fastest on the ten-lap average chart during that session. In Happy Hour, he was 8th-fastest with the 19th-best ten-lap average. Larson did report a small brake problem during that first practice, but I’m not too concerned about it. When your speed is as good as the #42 team is working with this weekend, it’s not a big deal to use some practice time to try and fix a small problem. Larson should run up front all day on Sunday.