The Home of Fantasy Sports Analysis

Rouff Mortgage 500: Fantasy NASCAR Preview

This weekend, we head to sunny Arizona for the Rouff Mortgage 500. The following preview should set you on the track to some cash in your fantasy competitions. If you’re looking to play, you can join anytime and Fantrax will have you covered.

Never played Fantasy NASCAR? Head on over to Fantrax and give one of our public leagues a go. Leagues are still filling up! There’s no better time than now to give it a try!

Track Info

Location: Phoenix Raceway

Track Length: 1-mile

Track Type: Low-banked, tri-oval race track

Last 10 Track Winners:

  • Fall 2021: Kyle Larson
  • Spring 2021: Martin Truex, Jr.
  • Fall 2020: Chase Elliott
  • Spring 2020: Joey Logano
  • Fall 2019: Denny Hamlin
  • Spring 2019: Kyle Busch
  • Fall 2018: Kyle Busch
  • Spring 2018: Kevin Harvick
  • Fall 2017: Matt Kenseth
  • Spring 2017: Ryan Newman

Last 10 Track Winners by Model

  • Toyota: 5
  • Chevrolet: 3
  • Ford: 2

Rouff Mortgage 500: Race Day Preview

NASCAR continues its tour through the West when it heads to Phoenix Raceway on Sunday for the Rouff Mortgage 500. It’s a 1-mile, low-banked track where the drivers will make 312 laps. It’s the first of two 1-mile tracks in 2022, the other coming in Dover on May 1.

Toyotas have had a very solid run in Arizona over the last 10 races and last week, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr., were running first and second until a late caution threw everything into chaos. Christopher Bell also had an excellent day of racing and finished tenth. Busch’s run was even more impressive considering he had to use a backup car after crashing in the qualifier last Saturday.

Speaking of crashes, the Next Gen cars continue to have major tire issues, the results of which are predicted to only get worse on shorter courses. The fact the cars can no longer maneuver out of the grass and instead must be towed is costing drivers precious laps. The cost for fantasy teams is also big, as we saw for Brad Keselowski last week who went down a full two laps for a flat. On a one-mile course, that could have been as many as four or more.

Thus far, it appears Chevrolet cars are holding up well when it comes to tires, which might serve as a tiebreaker when creating your lineups, but should not be a primary factor overall.

With that said, here is an overview of drivers I will be looking to roster in DFS and season-long formats this weekend. I’ll be back Sunday morning with a look at value based on positional movement following Saturday’s qualifying races. Thoughts? Opinions? Wondering how and why you should play NASCAR fantasy? Hit me up on Twitter @thewonkypenguin.

Fantasy Drivers: The Contenders

Kyle Larson

After the caution and restart last weekend, Larson suddenly jumped into the number one spot with only overtime laps remaining. The reason for this? His pit crew seems to always set him up for success and put him back in a position to win. (In fact, only Alex Bowman’s pit crew was faster last year and both crews were perfectly on display last week.) In 15 races at Phoenix Raceway, the Hendricks Motorsports driver has finished in the Top 10 nine times with six Top 5 finishes and one win. He seems to have full control over his Next Gen Chevrolet and is 4:1 odds to win the Rouff Mortgage 500 on Sunday.

Kyle Busch

It seems like every week, the younger Busch brother is giving a post-race interview describing “what went wrong” or what his primary frustration was that day. And many times, the answers to those questions have everything to do with some offhand occurrence that affected him greatly. To wit, he was in control last week until an unrelated-to-him caution came out with two laps remaining that reset the whole thing and found him winding up fourth.

The good news for fantasy players is that now he’s headed to a raceway where he has finished in the Top 10 almost 70 percent of the time with three wins. I’m expecting the Toyotas to be battling each other when the white flag gets waved and Kyle Busch leads that group.

Martin Truex, Jr.

I’d like to copy and paste the paragraphs I just wrote for Busch because Truex, Jr., can empathize with basically every word with regard to how the 2022 season has started for him. The primary difference here is that Truex’s career numbers are not as shiny as his teammate’s are in Arizona. He has ended in the Top 10 only 43 percent of the time and has only one win. However, if you look at only the previous six races, the No. 19 car has five Top Ten finishes and collected his lone win. I think it’s quite possible we get to watch him do his burnout after the Rouff Mortgage 500.

Denny Hamlin

Our third Toyota contender, Hamlin has the second-highest rating on this track at 113.2. (Highest is Joey Logano’s 114.8.) He also has the second-highest rating on intermediate 1-mile tracks since 2019. (Kevin Harvick comes in first.) The No. 11 car averages a Phoenix Raceway finish of sixth place and I feel like he has shown no reason that he can’t do that (or better) again.

Chase Elliott

NASCAR’s most popular driver ran a decent race last week. For a while, he was directly behind Larson in second place and everyone braced to see if any fireworks would occur given the intense ending in California the week before. Alas, nothing of note happened, but the No. 9 car finished… ninth. As I said before, Chevrolet teams seem to be managing the car changes quite well and have adjusted to the nature of the new tires. I also believe Chase’s memory might be a little longer than a week and he is still motivated to show that his teammate is not the only threat Hendricks has on their roster.

Beyond any emotional reason for putting him in your lineup, Elliott’s stats in Arizona back up this decision. In 12 races, he has finished in the Top 10 eight times. His average finish is 11th and I trust his team to put him in a position to win.

Fantasy Drivers: The Accelerators

Aric Almirola

Pick a stat, any stat, and Almirola seems to be creeping up the list in a hurry. He finished fifth at Daytona, sixth last week with an excellent showing, and his average positional gain so far this season is 24. He now heads into what might be his best course length. In 22 races at Arizona, he has finished in the Top 10 seven times and the Top 5 twice. In 1-mile courses overall, his average finish is twelfth and his rating is seventh highest among active drivers. I predict I will have high fantasy exposure to him during the Rouff Mortgage 500.

Kevin Harvick

The elder statesman of Phoenix Raceway, Harvick comes in having finished in the Top 10 here 71 percent of the time; the Top 5 at a 47 percent clip; and he’s carried the checkered flag nine times. This isn’t ancient history, either. He’s finished in the Top 10 each of the last six races as well. Even though last year ended up being somewhat of a lost season for Stewart-Haas Racing, the No. 4 car seems back in line for a solid year and should definitely be considered on Sunday.

Joey Logano

Continuing with our Ford focus here in the Accelerator group, Logano has shiny stats in Phoenix as well. In 26 races, Joey has 14 Top 10 finishes, seven Top 5, and two wins. In the past six races on this track, he has the highest rating of any driver (114.8), an average finish of sixth, and has led almost 23 percent of the laps. I almost put him in The Contenders group because he very much is one and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him winning come Sunday.

Ryan Blaney

The No. 12 car saw his race cut extremely short with a crash, which was a shame because prior to that, he was running well and consistently in the top group. The 36th place finish hurt a lot of fantasy teams, but you shouldn’t be driven too far off the Penske racer. While Blaney has never won in Phoenix, he has finished in the Top 10 over half the time including five of the last six. His track record on 1-mile ovals is high enough for you to consider him as a lineup addition with an outside chance of winning.

William Byron

Byron makes this list because he has a 50 percent rate of finishing in the Top 10 at Phoenix. His average finish on all 1-mile tracks is 13 and he overcame a couple of hard-luck falls and poor finishes to finish fifth last week. I expect him to be a driver who can help round out your fantasy roster to be an addition with potential for more.

Fantasy Drivers: The Brakes

I’m putting the following five drivers on this list as ones to beware of due to poor finishes at this track over their careers. This is not a “Do Not Draft” list by any means, but I will be rostering them with caution for the Rouff Mortgage 500.

Alex Bowman

1 Top 10 finishes in 13 races.

Austin Dillon

2 Top 10 finishes in 16 races.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

2 Top 10 finishes in 18 races.

Chris Buescher

0 Top 10 finishes in 12 races.

Michael McDowell

0 Top 10 finishes in 22 races.

That’s all we’ve got for our Rouff Mortgage 500 preview. Just a reminder to check out our Race Day picks on Sunday morning. And, as always, good luck!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.