Desert dominator Kevin Harvick will lead the field to green for Sunday’s Can-Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and the nine-time ISM Raceway winner is a must-start this weekend — more on that below. After three practice sessions and qualifying determining the starting order, we’ve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration as you make roster decisions.
Remember that the garage locks at the end of Stage 2. Also, your garage play can only be swapped for a driver of similar classification. (A playoff garage driver can only be swapped for a playoff driver in your lineup; a non-playoff garage driver can only be swapped for a non-playoff driver in your lineup.)
RJ Kraft’s Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Phoenix:
Playoff driver 1: Kevin Harvick
Playoff driver 2: Chase Elliott
Non-playoff driver 1: Erik Jones
Non-playoff driver 2: Brad Keselowski
Garage: Kyle Larson
Analysis: Two weeks left in the Fantasy Live Playoff Game! I am taking a few calculated risks based on looking to make some gains with plays that others might not have. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver will take on the reconfigured 1-mile ISM Raceway where the restarts should be quite fun and see plenty of movement.
Harvick has been the talk of the weekend following his Texas penalty and he has dominated nearly everything — winning the pole and topping both Saturday practices. He has nine wins here — six in the past 10 races. He will be owned by a high amount of folks, but there is more harm in not having him. Elliott earns my other playoff starting spot as he will start second and was among the top eight in 10-lap averages in both of Saturday’s practices. He has two straight top-three finishes here as well and sitting outside of the cutline will make him extra aggressive in this elimination race.
For my non-playoff drivers, I am going with Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski. Jones has three straight top 10s at Phoenix and was third on the 10-lap board in final practice. Keselowski has shown some surprising speed this weekend — surprising in that Team Penske has not run well here in recent years. He posted top-three fastest lap times in Saturday’s two practices and was second on the 10-lap board in final practice.
The garage pick was tough for me. I weighed Kyle Busch, who is solid here and has been fast all weekend. However, I felt having both him and Harvick was playing it too similar to what most will do and I am looking to try and make gains. To do that, I need to try something a bit different. I did consider Busch in the lineup with Harvick for all bonus picks setup, but I felt Harvick HAD to be in there. I also weighed Denny Hamlin, who has been pretty solid here in recent years. Both Busch and Hamlin were in my initial lineup.
Ultimately, though, I am intrigued by the speed Kyle Larson has shown this weekend and I am going to roll the dice with him in the garage. Given his so-so Phoenix numbers, its a bit of a boom-or-bust play, but I believe its a calculated gamble that could pay off big. So that gives me three non-playoff drivers for the third straight weekend as my roster.
The bonus picks will be all Harvick, all the time. Once again, I will pick him to win both stages and the race on Sunday.