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Matchup Picks & Prop Bets for NASCAR FanShield 500: Using Practice Speed to Find Value at Phoenix

Matchup Picks & Prop Bets for NASCAR FanShield 500: Using Practice Speed to Find Value at Phoenix article feature image

Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Keselowski (2) Team Penske Ford Mustang

  • Looking to bet some matchups and props for Sunday's FanShield 500 at Phoenix? This is the place for you.
  • Check out Nick Giffen's picks and analysis for Kevin Harvick vs. Denny Hamlin and William Byron vs. Alex Bowman.
  • He also offers a take on a prop bet for the over/under of the number of the winning car.

If you’re looking for some NASCAR action but don’t want to lay 6-1 or longer for an outright race winner, then you’re in luck. There are some excellent head-to-head matchups for today’s FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Let’s dive right into the best bets for today’s race.

NASCAR FanShield 500 Phoenix Betting Picks

Kevin Harvick (-130) over Denny Hamlin

Harvick has won 11 of the 14 matchups between these two during the Gen-6 era. Hamlin’s only three head-to-head wins have all come during higher downforce years (2013 and 2019). NASCAR has once again trimmed the downforce levels where Harvick was a perfect 6-0 against Hamlin.

Practice times also heavily favor Harvick. The two were separated by only one position in five-lap average, but that gap grew to three places over 10 laps, then eight places out of 21 cars over 15 laps and eight places out of 16 cars over 20 laps.

I’d favor Harvick down to -160.

William Byron (+100) over Alex Bowman

Byron has won all four head-to-head matchups between these Hendrick Motorsports teammates, and that trend should continue this weekend.

Bowman struggled in practice, not even turning 10 consecutive laps in final practice. That’s indicative of a car that needed several adjustments. His five-lap average was slower than Byron’s 10-lap time. Byron also led every single metric over both practice sessions, with the exception of single-lap speed in final practice, which is the least predictive of the metrics.

Byron gets the nod here. I like him down to -120.

Winning Car Number Under 17.5 (-143)

If you take this prop, you are essentially fading Kyle Busch (car No. 18) and Joey Logano (No. 22). William Byron (No.  24) isn’t quite in the top tier in practice times, but is probably the closest outside of Busch and Logano.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19) was slow in practice and has never won at Phoenix, with only four career top fives. Alex Bowman (No. 88) has struggled. Kyle Larson (No. 42) has never won, and he’s also been mediocre this weekend in practice. Erik Jones (No. 20) doesn’t have top-10 speed, while Cole Custer (No. 41) is a rookie. Every other driver over 17.5 doesn’t really have a shot.

On the other side, you have Kurt Busch (No. 1), Brad Keselowski (No. 2), Kevin Harvick (No. 4), Chase Elliott (No. 9), Aric Almirola (No. 10), Denny Hamlin (No. 11) and Ryan Blaney (No. 12), who make up seven of the top nine drivers in 10-lap average and six of the top seven starting drivers (only Keselowski in 14th starts further back).

Harvick, Elliott and Keselowski are the race favorites alongside Kyle Busch. Toyota’s struggles early in the season plus Busch’s lack of long-run speed would be two reasons to take the under. I’ll back the under and the on-track speed we’ve seen so far this weekend.

There’s value here down to -165.

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