The penultimate race of the year is upon us as the NASCAR schedule heads back to the desert for the second time this year and first time since way back in March. There are some similar storylines to this race as the first one here but also some major changes have happened to the track since then as well.

The basics of the track are that it’s a flat, one-mile layout that has one of the most interesting turns on the schedule known as the “dogleg” in what used to be Turn 2. The banking in the turns is between 10-11 degrees all the way around and the straightaways are tilted at three degrees with the straightaway between what used to be Turn 1 and the dogleg is banked at 10 degrees. Pit road was previously on the front stretch and went down into Turn 1 but now that has changed slightly.

If you haven’t caught on by now, there were changes made that track since the last time they raced there in March with the main difference being that the Start/Finish line has moved. It was previously on the front stretch but it has now moved to between previous Turn 1, now Turn 4, and the start of the dogleg portion of the track. This means they will be restarting in the middle of a turn and the first turn of the track will now be the dogleg which is an extra section of pavement that allows for dive-bomb moves and that may play a critical role at the end of the race if there is a late-race restart and a short-run to the checkered flag.

The track hasn’t seen double-digit cautions in a race since March of 2015 which is also the last race that the pole-sitter won and that was the first one since November 2010 that saw the pole sitter win. In all but one of the last six races there has been one driver lead 100+ laps and every one else splits the remaining 212 or fewer laps amongst themselves and only once in that time did the winner of the race lead the most laps as well. Despite being a 1-mile track, and a flat one at that, there are seven drivers in the field this week with +6 PD marks or better and another three in and around the 5.0 range.

Track Breakdown

Last Five Races at ISM Raceway

    Avg. Avg. Avg.   Top Top Top Top Laps
Driver Races Start Run Pos. Finish Wins 5s 10s 15s 20s Led
Kevin Harvick 5 12.6 6.2 3.4 2 4 5 5 5 177
Matt Kenseth 4 8.8 10.5 16.5 1 1 2 2 2 117
Ryan Newman 5 17.6 18.2 16.6 1 1 1 3 4 29
Joey Logano 5 5.6 9.6 16.2 1 1 1 2 4 140
Kyle Busch 5 8.8 5.4 3.6 0 4 5 5 5 317
Chase Elliott 5 6.8 6.2 6.8 0 2 4 5 5 140
Denny Hamlin 5 7 8.6 11.8 0 2 4 4 4 230
Martin Truex Jr 5 14 12 14.6 0 2 2 4 4 3
Kyle Larson 5 3.6 14.6 15 0 2 2 3 4 69
Kurt Busch 5 13 13.8 13.4 0 1 3 3 3 7
Erik Jones 3 9.3 8.7 7 0 1 3 3 3 0
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 5 21.6 22.8 19 0 1 2 2 2 0
Brad Keselowski 5 16 11 15.8 0 1 1 3 4 12
Aric Almirola 5 22.6 18.8 13.6 0 0 2 3 4 0
Ryan Blaney 5 7 12.6 14.8 0 0 2 2 4 11
Daniel Suarez 3 17.3 17 11 0 0 2 2 3 0
Jamie McMurray 5 9.2 12.4 14.8 0 0 1 3 4 0
Jimmie Johnson 5 13 15.2 22.2 0 0 1 3 3 13
Clint Bowyer 5 24.2 19.6 17.4 0 0 1 3 3 0
Austin Dillon 5 15.6 16.2 19.4 0 0 1 2 4 0
Alex Bowman 2 2.5 9 9.5 0 0 1 2 2 194
Paul Menard 5 17.4 22.6 24 0 0 1 2 2 0
Ty Dillon 4 25 20.3 18 0 0 0 2 3 0
William Byron 1 11 13 12 0 0 0 1 1 15
AJ Allmendinger 5 20.6 21.4 20.8 0 0 0 0 2 0
Landon Cassill 4 29 27.3 24.3 0 0 0 0 1 0
Matt DiBenedetto 5 29 28 25.2 0 0 0 0 1 0
Chris Buescher 5 30 30.2 31 0 0 0 0 0 1
Cody Ware 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
JJ Yeley 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tanner Berryhill 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ross Chastain 1 36 28 27 0 0 0 0 0 0
Regan Smith 2 30 28.5 27.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Michael McDowell 5 28.6 27.4 27.6 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bubba Wallace 1 27 28 28 0 0 0 0 0 0
David Ragan 5 27.2 28 29 0 0 0 0 0 0
DJ Kennington 3 36.7 33.3 30.7 0 0 0 0 0 0
Timmy Hill 2 37 34.5 32.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cole Whitt 3 33.3 32 35.3 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

  Fast Top 15 Laps Avg. High Low Pos Laps Led High to Low to
Driver Laps Rate Comp. Rating Rating Rating Diff Pts./Race Avg Rating Avg Rating
Kevin Harvick 157 93% 1575 115.4 140.4 97.9 9.20 8.85 25 17.5
Matt Kenseth 76 82% 1139 97.6 130.4 62.2 -7.70 7.31 32.8 35.4
Ryan Newman 57 52% 1312 76.6 102.2 37.2 1.00 1.45 25.6 39.4
Joey Logano 43 80% 1566 92.8 125.6 78.7 -10.60 7.00 32.8 14.1
Kyle Busch 161 98% 1575 117 137.8 97.7 5.20 15.85 20.8 19.3
Chase Elliott 133 98% 1575 110.3 115.9 101 0.00 7.00 5.6 9.3
Denny Hamlin 81 83% 1538 102.9 117.2 83.8 -4.80 11.50 14.3 19.1
Martin Truex Jr 50 76% 1509 93.6 115.5 66.8 -0.60 0.15 21.9 26.8
Kyle Larson 75 56% 1366 92.1 124.1 78.5 -11.40 3.45 32 13.6
Kurt Busch 11 61% 1573 82.6 105.3 65 -0.40 0.35 22.7 17.6
Erik Jones 34 93% 938 100.4 110.2 90.4 2.30 0.00 9.8 10
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 15 15% 1420 65.4 80.9 54.8 2.60 0.00 15.5 10.6
Brad Keselowski 61 78% 1569 90.8 119 68.9 0.20 0.60 28.2 21.9
Aric Almirola 1 35% 1573 70.9 87.7 46.8 9.00 0.00 16.8 24.1
Ryan Blaney 3 70% 1574 79.8 85.2 67.7 -7.80 0.55 5.4 12.1
Daniel Suarez 0 41% 938 75.8 84.2 69.6 6.30 0.00 8.4 6.2
Jamie McMurray 39 76% 1573 85.7 98.7 70.2 -5.60 0.00 13 15.5
Jimmie Johnson 80 66% 1383 86.6 105.1 58.6 -9.20 0.65 18.5 28
Clint Bowyer 29 50% 1567 70.9 103.5 35.3 6.80 0.00 32.6 35.6
Austin Dillon 6 49% 1539 74.4 92.1 65.9 -3.80 0.00 17.7 8.5
Alex Bowman 59 76% 636 106.2 138 74.4 -7.00 24.25 31.8 31.8
Paul Menard 1 7% 1243 60.8 73.4 45.8 -6.60 0.00 12.6 15
Ty Dillon 1 14% 1248 65.7 82.1 42.7 7.00 0.00 16.4 23
William Byron 6 68% 312 82.2 82.2 82.2 -1.00 3.75 0 0
AJ Allmendinger 1 9% 1571 59.9 69.6 53 -0.20 0.00 9.7 6.9
Landon Cassill 12 0% 1254 48.4 54.2 43.2 4.70 0.00 5.8 5.2
Matt DiBenedetto 0 0% 1564 47.1 57.7 39.9 3.80 0.00 10.6 7.2
Chris Buescher 0 0% 1495 41 46.5 37.2 -1.00 0.05 5.5 3.8
Cody Ware 0 0% 0 0 0 0 0.00   0 0
JJ Yeley 0 0% 0 0 0 0 0.00   0 0
Tanner Berryhill 0 0% 0 0 0 0 0.00   0 0
Ross Chastain 0 7% 310 39.2 39.2 39.2 9.00 0.00 0 0
Regan Smith 0 0% 629 41.3 44.7 37.8 2.50 0.00 3.4 3.5
Michael McDowell 3 0% 1557 47.3 57.1 38.5 1.00 0.00 9.8 8.8
Bubba Wallace 0 0% 309 49.7 49.7 49.7 -1.00 0.00 0 0
David Ragan 5 0% 1444 45.2 51 34.8 -1.80 0.00 5.8 10.4
DJ Kennington 0 0% 932 34.3 40.8 28.8 6.00 0.00    
Timmy Hill 0 0% 613 28.9 29.2 28.5 4.50 0.00 0.3 0.4
Cole Whitt 0 0% 750 35.1 37 33.7 -2.00 0.00 1.9 1.4

 

Top-15 Drivers Over Last 10 Races at ISM Raceway

    Avg. Avg. Avg.   Top Top Top Top Laps
Driver Races Start Run Pos. Finish Wins 5s 10s 15s 20s Led
Kevin Harvick 10 9.7 4.3 2.3 6 9 10 10 10 1102
Joey Logano 10 5.3 8 11.1 1 3 6 7 9 296
Ryan Newman 10 16.7 14.9 12.5 1 2 4 8 9 66
Matt Kenseth 8 9.6 10.9 15 1 2 3 4 5 117
Kyle Busch 9 7.9 7.3 8 0 5 8 8 8 318
Kurt Busch 10 10.3 11.9 13 0 3 7 7 7 7
Denny Hamlin 10 8.8 12.5 14.2 0 3 6 6 7 272
Brad Keselowski 10 11.9 8.9 11.2 0 3 5 8 9 98
Martin Truex Jr 10 14.1 12.2 13.6 0 2 4 8 8 3
Jimmie Johnson 10 10.6 13 17.5 0 2 4 7 7 58
Chase Elliott 5 6.8 6.2 6.8 0 2 4 5 5 140
Kyle Larson 9 5.8 13.7 15.4 0 2 3 5 7 69
Jamie McMurray 10 11.9 12.7 13.3 0 1 3 7 9 2
Erik Jones 4 8.8 9.8 10 0 1 3 3 4 0
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 10 20.7 22.3 19.5 0 1 2 4 6 0

 

  Fast Top 15 Laps Avg. High Low Pos. Laps Led Rating
Driver Laps Rate Comp. Rating Rating Rating Diff. Pts/Race Range
Kevin Harvick 593 96% 3042 131.2 150 97.9 7.40 27.55 52.1
Joey Logano 137 84% 3033 103.4 125.6 78.7 -5.80 7.40 46.9
Ryan Newman 80 61% 2779 85.7 110.4 37.2 4.20 1.65 73.2
Matt Kenseth 84 80% 2386 95 130.4 62.2 -5.40 3.66 68.2
Kyle Busch 184 94% 2726 107.8 137.8 76.2 -0.10 8.83 61.6
Kurt Busch 78 73% 3020 91.6 118.1 65 -2.70 0.18 53.1
Denny Hamlin 95 67% 2878 90.7 117.2 63.6 -5.40 6.80 53.6
Brad Keselowski 169 87% 3036 100.8 122.4 68.9 0.70 2.45 53.5
Martin Truex Jr 65 73% 2975 92.1 115.5 66.4 0.50 0.08 49.1
Jimmie Johnson 174 70% 3039 93.2 121.9 58.6 -6.90 1.45 63.3
Chase Elliott 133 98% 1575 110.3 115.9 101 0.00 7.00 14.9
Kyle Larson 77 61% 2520 90.4 124.1 74.7 -9.60 1.92 49.4
Jamie McMurray 60 73% 1145 87.7 112.1 70.2 -1.40 0.05 41.9
Erik Jones 35 92% 1156 96.1 110.2 83.1 -1.20 0.00 27.1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 19 14% 2862 66.5 80.9 54.8 1.20 0.00 26.1

 

Top-15 Drivers Over Last 21 Races at Similar Tracks

    Avg. Avg. Avg.   Top Top Top Top Laps
Driver Races Start Run Pos. Finish Wins 5s 10s 15s 20s Led
Kevin Harvick 21 9.2 6.7 6.8 5 16 17 19 19 961
Kyle Busch 20 9 6.1 6.3 4 13 17 18 19 1118
Matt Kenseth 18 9.3 9.3 13.7 4 7 10 11 12 901
Joey Logano 21 9.2 10.3 10 2 9 14 17 19 329
Denny Hamlin 21 7.9 9.5 9.3 2 8 14 18 19 579
Kyle Larson 21 9.9 12.5 12.1 1 6 10 15 18 144
Ryan Newman 21 16.7 15.8 15.2 1 3 7 13 17 58
Martin Truex Jr 21 9.3 9.3 11.4 0 7 12 17 19 1274
Brad Keselowski 21 12.3 8.7 10.7 0 6 12 18 19 367
Chase Elliott 16 11.6 9.7 11.2 0 5 8 13 14 198
Kurt Busch 21 7.7 10.7 12.5 0 4 13 15 17 257
Aric Almirola 21 22.4 18.8 15.9 0 3 7 9 16 43
Jimmie Johnson 21 11.2 12.4 12.6 0 2 11 18 18 102
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 21 18.4 19.9 18.6 0 2 4 9 13 13
Jamie McMurray 21 12.5 13.2 14.4 0 1 5 11 18 1

 

  Fast Top 15 Laps Avg. High Low Pos Laps Led Rating
Driver Laps Rate Comp. Rating Rating Rating Diff. Pts./Race Range
Kevin Harvick 751 93% 6869 113.9 150 58.9 2.40 11.44 91.1
Kyle Busch 653 95% 6673 116.1 149.2 73.7 2.70 13.98 75.5
Matt Kenseth 525 80% 5743 105.2 149.7 62.2 -4.40 12.51 87.5
Joey Logano 180 79% 6981 97.5 125.6 61.3 -0.80 3.92 64.3
Denny Hamlin 393 81% 6890 101.5 137.8 63.7 -1.40 6.89 74.1
Kyle Larson 214 69% 6811 92.4 125.8 63.7 -2.20 1.71 62.1
Ryan Newman 86 56% 6716 79.4 110.4 37.2 1.50 0.69 73.2
Martin Truex Jr 559 83% 6950 105.9 134.9 54.6 -2.10 15.17 80.3
Brad Keselowski 463 88% 7009 100.6 133.1 67.2 1.60 4.37 65.9
Chase Elliott 208 84% 5484 97 116.3 64.8 0.40 3.09 51.5
Kurt Busch 205 79% 6865 94.2 124.6 52.8 -4.80 3.06 71.8
Aric Almirola 114 34% 6753 74.2 111.2 36.7 6.50 0.51 74.5
Jimmie Johnson 180 73% 6830 91.6 116.5 58.6 -1.40 1.21 57.9
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 111 25% 6836 70.7 88.6 54.8 -0.20 0.15 33.8
Jamie McMurray 83 67% 5115 83.9 112.1 59 -1.90 0.01 53.1

 

Momentum

    Avg. Avg. Avg.   Top Top Top Top Pos Avg.
Driver Races Start Run Pos. Finish Wins 5s 10s 15s 20s Diff. Rating
Chase Elliott 5 12.4 9.4 9.2 2 2 4 4 4 3.2 100.8
Joey Logano 5 9 4.4 4 1 4 5 5 5 5 121
Aric Almirola 5 5.4 8 8.6 1 1 3 5 5 -3.2 103.3
Kevin Harvick 5 4.4 5.2 11.4 1 1 3 4 4 -7 120
Erik Jones 5 14 14.6 9.2 0 3 4 4 4 4.8 88.6
Denny Hamlin 5 8.6 14.2 10.4 0 3 3 4 4 -1.8 87.6
Kyle Busch 5 5.6 9.8 11.4 0 2 3 3 4 -5.8 99.5
Martin Truex Jr 5 14.4 12.2 11 0 2 3 4 4 3.4 93
Kyle Larson 5 20.4 15.4 13.6 0 2 2 4 4 6.8 85.1
Kurt Busch 5 6.4 7.4 10 0 1 3 4 5 -3.6 105.8
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 5 16.6 18.4 12.4 0 1 2 3 5 4.2 78.3
Brad Keselowski 5 7.8 9 12.8 0 1 2 4 4 -5 99.7
Ryan Blaney 5 7.2 8.4 13.8 0 1 2 3 4 -6.6 99
Clint Bowyer 5 5 11.6 19.4 0 1 1 2 2 -14.4 89.2
Austin Dillon 5 21.8 17.2 15 0 0 2 3 4 6.8 78.1

 

Points Changes at ISM Raceway

DraftKings

  17 Race Season DK Pts +/-
Driver Total Avg DK Pts. Season AVG
Matt Kenseth 92 24.17 67.8
Jamie McMurray 53 23.19 29.8
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 55.5 25.79 29.7
Ty Dillon 51.5 23.65 27.9
Erik Jones 57.5 31.89 25.6
Chase Elliott 60.5 38.66 21.8
Denny Hamlin 49.75 37.65 12.1
Ryan Newman 37.5 27.11 10.4
Aric Almirola 48.5 38.79 9.7
Michael McDowell 29.5 20.61 8.9
Landon Cassill 28 19.25 8.8
Austin Dillon 37 29.54 7.5
Paul Menard 33 26.71 6.3
Martin Truex Jr 55 49.07 5.9
DJ Kennington 29 25.65 3.4
Clint Bowyer 43 40.5 2.5
Matt DiBenedetto 20 20.32 -0.3
AJ Allmendinger 21 25.75 -4.8
Brad Keselowski 28 37.91 -9.9
Daniel Suarez 18 29.93 -11.9
Joey Logano 29 44.09 -15.1
Cole Whitt 6 23.91 -17.9
Kevin Harvick 47.5 66.31 -18.8
David Ragan 4 22.88 -18.9
Kyle Busch 39.5 60 -20.5
Ryan Blaney 14.25 35.36 -21.1
Kurt Busch 17 39.61 -22.6
Chris Buescher 1 25.64 -24.6
Jimmie Johnson -21 31.61 -52.6
Kyle Larson -18.5 42.93 -61.4
       
    AVG. +/- 19.3

 

FanDuel

  17 Race 18 Season FD Pts +/-
Driver Total Avg FD Pts. Season AVG
Matt Kenseth 83.4 44.89 38.51
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 73.7 47.12 26.58
Ty Dillon 70.2 44.66 25.54
Jamie McMurray 69.7 46.72 22.98
Chase Elliott 75.6 55.60 20.00
Erik Jones 71.7 52.70 19.00
Aric Almirola 69.7 55.42 14.28
Michael McDowell 52.9 39.78 13.12
Paul Menard 59.2 46.66 12.54
Landon Cassill 51.9 39.59 12.31
Martin Truex Jr 70.2 57.98 12.22
Austin Dillon 61.7 50.38 11.32
Clint Bowyer 62.7 55.93 6.77
Matt DiBenedetto 46.1 40.85 5.25
Kevin Harvick 67.7 63.44 4.26
AJ Allmendinger 48.9 45.05 3.85
Brad Keselowski 56.2 52.98 3.22
Kyle Busch 65.7 62.70 3.00
Ryan Newman 51.1 49.17 1.93
Daniel Suarez 50.2 49.30 0.90
Joey Logano 58.7 60.08 -1.38
Ryan Blaney 48.3 51.91 -3.61
Kurt Busch 48 55.83 -7.83
David Ragan 34.6 45.46 -10.86
Denny Hamlin 36.3 55.10 -18.80
Chris Buescher 25.7 46.48 -20.78
Jimmie Johnson 3.3 50.36 -47.06
Kyle Larson -5.9 56.47 -62.37
       
    AVG. +/- 15.37

 

Top-10 and Bottom-10 Value Drivers

DraftKings

Rank Driver Value Rank Driver Value
1 Kevin Harvick 5.39 39 Tanner Berryhill 0.00
2 Kyle Busch 5.17 38 Cody Ware 1.81
3 D.J. Kennington 5.13 37 Timmy Hill 2.41
4 Aric Almirola 4.79 36 William Byron 3.07
5 Regan Smith 4.63 35 Jamie McMurray 3.09
6 Joey Logano 4.59 34 Bubba Wallace 3.28
7 Kurt Busch 4.55 33 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 3.39
8 Clint Bowyer 4.55 32 JJ Yeley 3.41
9 Cole Whitt 4.51 31 Matt Kenseth 3.50
10 Martin Truex Jr 4.46 30 Michael McDowell 3.55

FanDuel

Rank Driver Value Rank Driver Value
1 D.J. Kennington 11.52 37 Chase Elliott 4.28
2 David Ragan 11.36 36 Kevin Harvick 4.38
3 Cole Whitt 10.73 35 Martin Truex Jr. 4.64
4 J.J. Yeley 9.91 34 Kyle Busch 4.64
5 Landon Cassill 9.90 33 Brad Keselowski 4.73
6 Ross Chastain 9.88 32 Denny Hamlin 4.83
7 Bubba Wallace 9.20 31 Kyle Larson 4.87
8 Regan Smith 8.71 30 Joey Logano 5.01
9 Michael McDowell 7.96 29 Ryan Blaney 5.09
10 Matt DiBenedetto 7.43 28 Kurt Busch 5.12

 

Drivers To Watch This Week

Kevin Harvick - Ah Mr. Harvick. The man has been the talk of the week thus far following his L1 penalty assessed after his “win” at Texas last week and now after losing that win and 40 points in the standings he is just three points to the good in this final race before the championship. The good news for him is that he was penalized following the Las Vegas race early this year and then won the Phoenix race the following week and he has flat out dominated here in a fashion that reaches new heights. In the last five races he’s got two wins, four top-fives, and five top-10s with an average finish of 3.4 and 177 laps led. However it’s when you see the last 10 races and his six wins and nine top-fives and 2.3 average finish and 1,102 laps led and 593 fastest laps that you realize just how great he’s been. He’s a must play everywhere.

Kyle Busch - Busch has been good here too in the last five and 10 races, just not to Harvick’s level. He has four top-fives and five top-10s with 328 laps led (the most in the field) in the last five with five top-fives and eight top-10s and 318 laps led in the last 10, all second in the field to Harvick. His average finish of 3.6 recently and 8.0 in the last 10 are both also second to Harvick’s marks as are his average driver ratings of 117 and 107.8 in those same spans. Busch is $900 cheaper on DraftKings and $1,000 less on FanDuel so there is a nice discount although both are still the top-two value guys on DraftKings anyway.

Chase Elliott - Elliott has been one of if not the hottest driver in the last several races this season and comes into Phoenix being 17 point below the cutoff line to make the championship race next week at Homestead-Miami. That isn’t a big enough margin to need a win this week but he certainly needs a very strong showing in getting stage points and a great finish at race’s end to have a shot of kicking Harvick out of the last spot. Chase has shown well in his career here with two top-fives and four top-10s in the last five races and 140 laps led and 133 fastest laps. I like his price a lot more on DK than FD this week as he’s the third-most expensive guy at $13,000.

Alex Bowman - This is Bowman’s home track as he’s from Arizona and in one of his first races filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. back in 2016, Bowman showed why he is sometimes known as Bowman the Showman. He led 194 laps in that race and it was his one top-10 finish here in his two Cup series races. His other finish is inside the top-15 as well and in the Xfinity series he has six career races with four top-20s. He clearly isn’t in the playoff picture any longer but it’s still a chance for him to race in front of his home town friends and family and so for $7,200 on DK he’s worth a solid look. His price on FD is a bit higher than I like at $9,100 this week.

Daniel Suarez - News came out this week that Martin Truex Jr. will be moving to the 19-car next year as his current race team is folding in two weeks. That means that Suarez is currently without a ride for next year and may not get one in the Cup series as he hasn’t really shown all that well despite being in top-notch equipment for his three-year stretch at JGR. Phoenix however has been a good track for him in both Cup and Xfinity series alike in six total races (three in each series) he has two top-fives and four top-10s in that span with an average finish of 13.3. There aren’t any laps led or fastest laps there but solid finishes consistently is what Suarez has been lacking over his Cup career. This week could be different.