This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship
Location: Avondale, Ariz.
Course: Phoenix Raceway
Format: 1.0-mile oval
The final four NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders were decided last week at Martinsville. Josh Berry and Noah Gragson were already locked into the championship finale via wins earlier in the round. However, one of the week's biggest stories came when Ty Gibbs, after already securing his spot on points, inexplicably crashed teammate Brandon Jones out of championship contention on the final lap of the race. Jones was in the lead and on track to put two Joe Gibbs Racing entries into the championship fight, but Gibbs' bump from behind sent Jones spinning into the outside wall while Gibbs drove to the checkered flag. Jones watched his championship hopes evaporate. That move promoted Justin Allgaier into the championship race, leaving Gibbs as the lone JGR contender against three JR Motorsports drivers for the season's title this week. The manner in which the final four drivers were decided set the stage for what could be a cracker of a season finale this week. All four championship contenders will be battling tooth and nail to come out on top, but the backstories of other drivers looking for retribution or to make a statement of their own could add some extra fuel to the already blazing fire.
Key Stats at Phoenix Raceway
- Number of races: 41
- Winners from pole: 10
- Winners from top-5 starters: 35
- Winners from top-10 starters: 37
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 1
- Fastest race: 116.317 mph
Previous 10 Phoenix Winners
2022 spring - Noah Gragson
2021 fall - Daniel Hemric
2021 spring - Austin Cindric
2020 fall - Austin Cindric
2020 spring - Brandon Jones
2019 fall - Justin Allgaier
2019 spring - Kyle Busch
2018 fall - Christopher Bell
2018 spring - Brad Keselowski
2017 fall - William Byron
This will be the third time Phoenix has hosted the Xfinity season finale. While the 1.0-mile oval is sometimes compared to Richmond, its features can also cause teams to approach it more like a road course. It has different turns throughout the course in both radius and banking, and its wide surface with no out-of-bounds rule makes setting up a car a compromise. Track position is one of the biggest factors in success at the track, though. Only six of 41 series races at the track have been won by a driver starting outside of the top five. Only four times has the winner started lower than eighth. Everyone knows the easiest way to maximize track position is to start at the front and then stay there. Therefore, qualifying will have a greater emphasis than some other weeks. The teams know this circuit well, and everyone has been working toward this week's race all season. The biggest issues teams will have to tackle through the race are avoiding mistakes and not losing the car's handling throughout the race.
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DraftKings Value Picks for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
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NASCAR DFS Picks for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
The championship contender with arguably the most momentum heading into the championship weekend is Gragson. He is heading to the NASCAR Cup Series full time next year, and he wants to take the Xfinity Series title with him. He won at Phoenix earlier this season and heads into the weekend with four consecutive top-five finishes in the last four weeks. Despite not having as many wins as Gibbs in 2022, Gragson is a top choice to take the title. Supporting Gragson in his quest could be Brandon Jones. Jones will be moving to JR Motorsports in 2023, but does that partnership begin a week sooner than expected given the events at Martinsville? Jones is a driver with something to prove this weekend. He was second to Gragson here in the spring and won at Phoenix in 2020. Ryan Sieg is another driver with significant Phoenix experience. He has 18 series starts at the track and he finished 11th in the spring race. He enters the week on the back of three finishes outside of the top 30, but if he can avoid trouble this week he should be a reliable top-15 finisher. Anthony Alfredo falls into a similar category. He has had a little inconsistency throughout 2022 but is overall a top-15 driver. He was 18th or better in four of the last five races and didn't get to show his potential at this track last season when he had contact with Cody Ware. The close of the season has been better than the start for Myatt Snider. He has two top-15s in the last five races and an average Phoenix finish of 17.2 from five series starts. A 13th-place finish last week is further evidence that the season is ending better for Alex Labbe, too. He finished 19th at the track in the spring and should be a reliable top-20 option this week as well.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Allgaier's experience could pay off big this week. He successfully navigated his way through the playoffs to get to this point, and his 24 Phoenix starts could be a huge advantage. He has two prior wins at the track and finished 10th despite starting 24th in the spring. Up and comer Sam Mayer missed out on the final four last week at Martinsville. This season has still been a successful one for him, however. Mayer has two prior Phoenix starts with a best finish of 13th. Fantasy players looking for a bit of upside value might look to Kaz Grala this week, too. He has two prior starts at Phoenix with a best finish of 12th. A repeat of that performance this week would make him a good value for his price. This will be his 10th start of the season, and a top-15 result should be within his reach. Another experienced Phoenix racer is Jeremy Clements. He has 24 prior starts at the track with two top-10 finishes. His average finish from the four most recent track visits is 14th. Newcomer Nick Sanchez has continued his impressive start in the series. This week will be his eighth series start and second at Phoenix. He finished 26th at the track earlier this season but had an impressive seventh-place run at Martinsville last week. Another top 10 the second time around at Phoenix isn't out of the question. Finally, Jeb Burton presents excellent value this week. His average finish from four prior Phoenix starts is 14.5. He was 11th last week at Martinsville and is on a streak of seven consecutive top-20 finishes coming into the weekend.