The Cup Series will compete at Phoenix Raceway Sunday afternoon. NASCAR reduced the Cup Series practice time from 35 minutes at Las Vegas to 20 minutes this week at Phoenix. The track is smaller this week so many of the teams were still able to make some longs runs in practice. My strategy will be to use the drivers who looked fast in practice and have run well so far in 2022.
Here is my starting lineup for the Ruoff Mortgage 500k…
Driver Group Game Team
Driver Group Game A Drivers
Kyle Busch (9): I went all in on the Joe Gibbs Racing cars for my pre-qulifying picks and off course only Denny Hamlin looked good (The only Joe Gibbs Racing driver I did not pick). Busch looked weird in practice with that DeWalt paint scheme, but the No. 18 car looks fast. Busch qualified 11th. His team should be able to get his car dialed in for the race so he can run inside the top-10.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Larson 2) Denny Hamlin 3) Ryan Blaney 4) Kyle Busch 5) Kevin Harvick 6) Martin Truex Jr. 7) Chase Elliott
Driver Group Game B Drivers
William Byron (8): I did not want to burn another allocation with Byron this week because I have plans to use him later this season, but the No. 24 car has too much speed to ignore right now. Byron posted the fourth-fastest speed in practice. The No. 24 car was also fastest on the 10-lap average speed chart and third-fastest on the 20-lap average speed chart. Byron qualified third. Byron has been fast in every race this year. He should score a lot of Stage Points and finish in the top-five Sunday/
Aric Almirola (9): Almirola is the only driver to finish every race in the top-10. Now he gets to compete at one of his best tracks. Almirola had one of the fastest cars on the long runs. The No. 10 car posted the eighth-fastest speed on the 15-lap average speed chart and the seventh best speed on the 20-lap average speed chart. Almirola qualified fifth. I will take a chance with Almirola and save my top drivers for other races.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) William Byron 2) Aric Almirola 3) Joey Logano 4) Christopher Bell 5) Tyler Reddick 6) Ross Chastain 7) Kurt Busch 8) Brad Keselowski 9) Alex Bowman 10) Austin Dillon
Driver Group Game C Drivers
Austin Cindric (8): Cindric had a lot of success at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series. Will that success translate into success this week? The No. 2 car has had speed in all of the races this year and he looks fast again. Cindric posted the fastest speed in practice and qualified eighth. I will take a chance and use another allocation with Cindric Sunday.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Austin Cindric 2) Erik Jones 3) Harrison Burton 4) AJ Allmendinger 5) Cole Custer
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