Three NASCAR Prop Bets for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at Phoenix

Three NASCAR Prop Bets for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at Phoenix article feature image
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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend we get the TicketGuardian 500 at the newly-named ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix Raceway and Phoenix International Raceway). The race is at 3:30 pm ET. (Also, don’t get screwed over by daylight saving time.)

 

A one-mile tri-oval, ISM is one of just four short flat tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

  • ISM Raceway
  • Richmond Raceway
  • Martinsville Speedway
  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Whereas last week’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was pretty much a standard affair, this week’s race — the first flat-track event of the year — will likely have more drama. Due to the low banking, drivers must exercise more than the typical amount of caution in the corners when turning. As a result, we tend to see more single-file racing as drivers enter the corner, which makes passing more difficult. On top of that, ISM (relative to longer tracks) is especially tough on drivers who start near the back of the field, as they have a greater likelihood of going down a lap when they pit. As a result, the machine learning statistical models and similarity scores at RotoViz this week rely heavily on track-type history as well as starting position, final practice times, and driver rating over the past half year.

For more information on the track and drivers as well as some daily fantasy NASCAR insight, check out the two podcasts I recorded this week with Nick Giffen (RotoDoc) of RotoViz.

When sorting through the head-to-head driver props for Arizona, I’ve opted to focus most on projected finishing positions (as well track-type history and practice times) in the RotoViz tools.

Here are three props that have caught my eye.

Erik Jones (-105) over Joey Logano (-125)

In his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2017, Jones had two top-eight finishes at Phoenix, and in final practice he was seventh in 10-lap average (133.201 mph), whereas Logano was 22nd (132.090 mph). Jones has the higher median and floor sim scores (9.5 and 15 vs. 12 and 19), and his projected finishing position in the model is significantly better (10.7 vs. 13.4). Logano has the edge in starting position (5 vs. 9), but that won’t mean much 250 miles into the race.

Chris Buescher (+115) over Ty Dillon (-145)

Last year at short flat tracks Dillon was marginally better than Buescher in finishing position (20.6 vs. 23.9) and driver rating (59.2 vs. 53.0), but Buescher this week has the slightly better median sim score (23. vs. 24) and starting position (24 vs. 28). On top of that, his 10-lap average in final practice was just a touch faster than Dillon’s (25th, 131.677 mph vs. 26th, 131.249 mph). Buescher vs. Dillon looks like a coin flip at worst, so I’ll take the positive odds.

Aric Almirola (-115) over Ryan Blaney (-115)

Extending back to last year, Almirola has two top-10 finishes in his past five races — with a ninth-place performance at Phoenix in November — and this year he’s enjoying a major upgrade in equipment as a part of the Stewart-Haas Racing team. In 2017, Almirola had an average finishing position of 17.2 at short flat tracks; Blaney, 19.4. Blaney has the superior starting position (12 vs. 22), but in final practice Almirola had the third-fastest 10-lap average (133.384 mph); Blaney, the 10th slowest (131.709 mph).

Martin Truex Jr. (+140) over Kevin Harvick (-170)

Fool me once . . .
Fool me twice . . .

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports