NASCAR Picks for Phoenix
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Stewart is a former winner at Phoenix and has had plenty of strong runs at the track over the years. However, he seemed lost at PIR last year, finishing 22nd and 19th. Granted, Stewart is the type of driver that can win on any given weekend, but his suspect results from 2012 make him a bit riskier than normal.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Fantasy owners should have Busch on their short list of sleepers this weekend at Phoenix. He had a 15th-place finish at the track last February while driving for Phoenix Racing, and he finished eighth in the fall with Furniture Row Racing. Busch will be back with Furniture Row Racing this weekend, so another top-10 run isn't out of the question.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Normally one of the steadiest drivers in the series, Bowyer has had his share of issues at Phoenix. He has managed just a single top 10 in his last five starts at the track and has finished outside the top 20 four times during the stretch. With just a 17.7 average finish at the track for his career, owners may want to save Bowyer for a later date.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
From 2002 to 2005, Junior reeled off four straight top-five finishes at Phoenix, including two wins. Since then, he hasn't had a single top-five finish in his 15 starts since. In fact, Junior has just four top-10s during the stretch and just one in his last seven starts. Don't expect much more than a top-15 finish this weekend.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In typical Logano fashion, he has been boom or bust at Phoenix in his career. In eight starts, he has four finishes of 11th or better and four finishes outside the top 20. Logano definitely has some potential, but fantasy owners are probably better off waiting until after qualifying and practice before committing one way or the other.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Truex finished seventh at Phoenix last February, and he has managed to crack the top 20 in 11 of his 14 starts. Mechanical failures have resulted in two 43rd-place finishes that weigh down his overall average, but he is more than capable of delivering a top-15 finish Sunday.
Juan Montoya, #42 Target, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
I'll be the first to admit that Montoya is an absolute fantasy headache because of his week-to-week inconsistency, but Phoenix is one track where he could be worth a look. He has reeled off seven straight top-20 finishes at PIR, including three straight top-15s. Montoya finished 11th and 12th at Phoenix last year and could be a sneaky source for a top-15 Sunday.
Marcos Ambrose, #9 Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
As far as oval tracks go, Phoenix has been one of Ambrose's better stops on the schedule. He has a 16.7 average finish at PIR, cracking the top 20 in seven of his nine starts. No, Ambrose probably won't deliver a top-10 Sunday, but he could provide a respectable finish.
Jeff Burton, #31 Caterpillar/Cheerios, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Burton has multiple wins at Phoenix; and at his prime, he dominated in the desert. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he is no longer in his prime. Burton has finished outside the top 15 in four of his last six starts at the track and has finished 25th or worse three times during the stretch.
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After opening his career with nine straight finishes outside the top 15 at Phoenix, Menard has actually cracked the top 10 in two of his last three starts at the track. One of those top-10 runs came last fall on the new pavement, so there is a chance he could help fantasy owners this weekend. Menard's career numbers at PIR are still too ugly to consider him a sure-fire pick, but he appears to be trending in the right direction.
Aric Almirola, #43 Smithfield Foods, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
His first full season at the Cup level came with some ups and downs, but Phoenix was actually one of Almirola's best tracks in 2012. He finished 12th and 16th in his two starts at PIR, showing enough consistency to make him a potential deep sleeper in fantasy leagues.
Bobby Labonte, #47 Kingsford/Clorox, JTG Daugherty Racing [Yahoo Class B]
There aren't many tracks left on the schedule where Labonte can help fantasy owners, but Phoenix is one of them. He has finished 21st or better in five straight starts, including finishes of 15th and 16th in 2012. With top-20 potential this weekend, Labonte could make a serviceable sleeper option in certain formats.
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