The final leg of NASCAR’s western swing wraps up with action in the desert of Arizona. Let’s delve into how this week’s calendar breaks down and what DFS players need to be cognizant of going into the Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR DFS Preview & Predictions: Ruoff Mortgage 500
Ruoff Mortgage 500 Information
- Track: Phoenix International Raceway
- Location: Avondale, Ariz.
- Length: 1 mile (asphalt)
- Banking: 3 degrees in the start-finish straightaway, 8 degrees in turn-one, 8-9 degrees in turn 2, 10-11 degrees in turns three and four
- Race Distance: 312 laps stages (75/190/312 laps – 500 kilometers)
- Dominator Points:
- DraftKings: 78 – laps led, 140.4 – fastest laps
- FanDuel: 31.2 – laps led
- Past winners: Kyle Larson (2021), Martin Truex Jr. (2021), Chase Elliott (2020), Joey Logano (2020)
- Betting favorite: Kyle Larson, +350 (DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM)
- Entry List: All 36 Chartered Teams
- Weather: High of 80, mostly sunny
- Watch: FOX
- Listen: MRN (MRN.com, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/XM Channel 90)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Saturday, March 12th
- 1:30 – 2:05 p.m.: practice session
- 2:05 – 3:30 p.m.: single-car qualifying, one lap, two rounds, impound follows immediately afterward
- Sunday, March 13th
- 3:30 p.m.: green flag
NASCAR DFS Preview for the Ruoff Mortgage 500
As shown above, Phoenix will be the shortest of all four tracks that NASCAR has visited this season. It should and will race much differently than either Las Vegas, Auto Club and especially Daytona. Not only are NASCAR drivers losing banking, but they are also losing length. Measuring at just a mile in length, combined with only 312 laps, drivers do not have as much time to move their way forward as they will at Bristol, Richmond or Martinsville. As aggressive as the driving has been in back-to-back weeks, it should be no surprise if Sunday sets a track record for cautions at Phoenix. The current leader for cautions in a race is 12 in the Spring 2020 race.
With just 312 laps on tap, lineup construction should not deviate that far from what DFS players had in mind last week. Dominator points have only increased from 186.9 total points (laps led and fastest laps points combined) to 218.4 this week. On FanDuel, the jump is similarly minuscule going from 26.7 laps led points to 31.2 points. This is all to say, whatever the lineup construction approach was last week, it is probably not going to change all that much, save for spinouts during practice and qualifying (an unfortunate new reality to the Gen Seven car) giving DFS players access to drivers with heaps of place differential.
Following the Spring 2018 race, a multi-million dollar project was undertaken at Phoenix, completely renovating the track from its grandstands all the way down to the track. In fact, a simple repave job would not suffice, as the track was realigned turning the backstretch into the new front stretch. While there is nothing different about Phoenix, save for the new pavement, this has become a bit of a different track thanks to the changes. To read more about these changes, check out the Can-Am 500 Preview from 2018.
Prioritizing Phoenix can pay dividends, not only now but in the future. Besides being the site of this weekend’s Cup race, Phoenix will host the championship race for the third straight season. If a team can dial in their setup for Sunday’s event, they could potentially punch their ticket to the playoffs with a win but start a cascading string of dominoes that will set them up for tracks like Richmond, New Hampshire and ultimately Phoenix once again. Be mindful of who performs well this Sunday afternoon. It could definitely be linked to a plan to sell out for this track in hopes of cashing in once again in November. It was Martin Truex Jr.’s plan last year, a plan that nearly worked had David Starr not brought out a late caution.
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