NASCAR Cup Series: Top Bets for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at Phoenix
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
NASCAR heads to its first flat track of the year at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona (3:30 pm ET). Flat tracks require a different skill set, so the stats to key in on this weekend are slightly different. We still want to focus on long-run speed and recent performance at all tracks. However, starting position and recent flat-track performance also add predictive value to my machine learning statistical model. I’ll also use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
Last weekend at Las Vegas, my picks again fared well, but Kevin Harvick stole the show with his second consecutive dominant performance. Kyle Busch (+800) finished second, while Kyle Larson (+400) and Martin Truex, Jr. (+650) finished third and fourth. My last pick, Chase Elliott (+1650), ran inside the top 10 all day but was taken out in a late-race incident with Kurt Busch.
Because of Kevin Harvick’s pure dominance this year, at Phoenix in the past, and in practice this weekend, he alone is skewing the odds for this race. Thus, I have only a couple picks to win this week.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best price, because I’m finding significantly different lines across a few different sites. Let’s dive into this week’s picks for Phoenix!
Chase Elliott: +600
Chase Elliott has a ton of factors going for him this weekend. My machine learning model pegs him with the highest average finishing position, and Elliott was second to only Kevin Harvick in the 10-, 15-, and 20-lap averages in final practice. Elliott finished second in the most recent race at Phoenix, and if Harvick slips up at all Elliott should be the best of the rest.
Alex Bowman: +4400
Alex Bowman is one of the best long-shot plays we’ve seen this year. The Sim Scores show that two of his 20 closest comparable past drivers scored a win in similar situations (10 percent), and another comparable was Bowman himself in 2016, when he dominated the race at Phoenix only to have the win stolen from him on a late restart when Matt Kenseth hit him from behind. Bowman was quick in final practice, posting the fifth-best single- and 10-lap times.
Kevin Harvick: +225 (Parlay)
Harvick is on a tear, dominating both Atlanta and Las Vegas, and he heads to his best track on the Cup Series circuit. From the fall of 2012 until the spring of 2016, Harvick won six of the eight races at Phoenix. Harvick was quickest in single-, 10-, 15-, and 20-lap speeds in final practice with very little drop off in velocity.
Because of the odds, I prefer getting a piece of him only in a parlay with a favorite head-to-head or finishing position prop.
Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports