The Cup Series had a 50-minute practice session Friday to work on their speeds with the new aero package. The teams then lined up for qualifying Saturday morning. We learned a lot from the practice and the speeds will be 50% of my rankings this week (the other 50% will come from track history at Phoenix (25%) and driver history on the short, flat tracks (25%). This should give us a good idea of what drivers will have the best chance to run up front Sunday.
Here are the practice speeds for the practice session Friday at Phoenix…
I analyzed all of the key stats, looked at the short and long-run speeds from practice, text a few friends who work in the NASCAR garage and now the Driver Group Game picks have been finalized.
Here is my starting lineup for the race at the race at Phoenix…
CUP SERIES PICKS
GROUP A: KYLE LARSON (8) is clearly the driver to beat. He was the fastest in practice yesterday and fastest on every long-run speed chart. He blew away the field in qualifying and he has the No. 1 pit stall. There is no reason to fade the No. 5 car Sunday.
GROUP B: KEVIN HARVICK (8): It is going to be tough to fade the No. 4 car Sunday. Harvick is known as the “King of Phoenix” because he has dominated the races at this track for over a decade. Harvick has finished his last 19 races at Phoenix in the top-10. He did it in many different area packages. The changes to the car should not slow down Harvick this week so I will have the No. 4 car in my lineup.
GROUP B: TYLER REDDICK (9): Reddick finished third in this race last year. Can he do it again with his new team? Reddick has one of the fastest long-run cars on the long-run speed chart. The No. 45 car was fourth-fastest on the 15-lap speed chart and the 20-lap speed chart. These cars are going to slide around Sunday and that should play into Reddick’s driving style.
GROUP C: TY GIBBS (9): Group C is going to be tough this week. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a lot of speed in practice, but he looked slow in qualifying. The Toyota’s made some adjustments after practice and gained a bit of speed. Gibbs won the Xfinity Series race at Phoenix last November. I will take a chance with the No. 54 car Sunday.
* I would use Josh Berry if he is available for you in Group C.
Good Luck This Week!
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