Fantasy Auto Racing:
What: Camping World 500
When: March 19th
Where: Phoenix International Raceway
2016 Winner: Kevin Harvick
I will follow Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing where you pick 2 A Racers, 4 B Racers and 2 C Racers. As such I will pick one from A, 2 from B and 1 from C (as if they were your starters) along with one Dark Horse pick.
Track: Phoenix International Raceway opened in 1964. It runs at 1 mile asphalt track with turns curving between 8-11 degrees. Home to the Camping World 500 and CanAm 500 later in the playoffs, the desert is surrounded by Estrella Mountains. The introduction of a dog-leg coupled with bumping up the angle slightly on two turns to allow for more side by side racing due to the speed around the turns and multi-grooves.
Kevin Harvick. I will preface the obvious choice at this race by saying - I do believe he is the best racer in the sport right now. Jimmie has 6 titles (from 2006-2012 Jimmie was the best) and Jimmie still prevailed in the playoffs last year but I think start of the season to finish Kevin is the best right now. The issue becomes, he will fall "just short" during the playoffs - racing good enough to extend to the next rounds but since the points reset he loses the cushion he's built. Then he falls 1-2 spots behind a racer who is on a hot streak and he loses the Cup.. Now with that behind me, he's won this race the last 3 years, really nothing more to add.
Chase Elliot. In two races at Phoenix International Raceway last year (Camping World 500 and Can-Am 500, he finished 8th and 9th so we know he's comfortable on this track. So far this season he has a 14th place finish at Daytona followed by 5th at Atlanta and 3rd at Las Vegas. He's showing no signs of slowing down after a strong rookie year and looks to be a contender in the foreseeable future.
Ryan Blaney. Picking two strong rookies who are blossoming into great drivers will be an interesting strategy at Phoenix. So far this year he's finished 2nd, 18th and 7th. Last year at the two Phoenix races he was 10th and 7th. This is a great combination for Wood Brothers Racing as he is building strong into his Sophomore year.
Erik Jones. I'm tripling down. As long as he keeps up this stellar pace, I'm not deterring from Erik. When a C driver continues to pull out top 20 finishes, you stay with it, it's not a common occurrence or easy to foresee. His last two races: 14th at Atlanta and 15th at Las Vegas. Furthermore, he's actually looking like he could do better if for a few tweaks occurring in the final 20 laps of these races. One last thing - he did a test drive here in January and was the 4th fastest time out of 13 cars that participated.
AJ Allmendinger. It has not been the best season for AJ. After finishing 3rd at Dayton he went on to post a 26th place finish at Atlanta followed by a 24th place finish at Las Vegas. Strong start but not a good follow up as he now sits in the bottom ten in Monster Cup points. Reason for hope stands at Phoenix where he finished 17th in both races and got to participate in the three day test run earlier this year.