NASCAR at Phoenix Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Best Early Bets for Sunday’s Ruoff Mortgage 500
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford
The NASCAR Cup Series visits its fourth different track in four races as the West Coast Swing concludes with 312 laps at Phoenix Raceway.
The 1-mile flat track presents another different challenge for drivers. Racing on shorter tracks, especially with less banking requires more braking.
That certainly is different from holding it flat-out through the corner and maybe barely lifting off the throttle that is typical of intermediate track racing.
Two big questions arise for me:
First, will the increased competitiveness carry over to the short flat tracks?
Second, will the increased incident rate continue at Phoenix?
Both of these questions bring me back to my preseason betting tips article. Specifically, I’ve been dialing back the number of bets I place on favorites, and instead placing smaller bets on longer shots.
It makes sense. So far, the winners have been Austin Cindric (25-1), Kyle Larson (4-1) and Alex Bowman (18-1).
Yes, Larson winning at Auto Club Speedway was a win by a favorite, but Tyler Reddick dominated that race. Additionally, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon each had shots at the lead on the final restart.
The counter to this is that short, flat tracks tend to produce more predictable racing. But as we’ve seen so far in the 2022 season, the unexpected can happen.
So with an eye on increased uncertainty, I’m eyeing three longer shot drivers that show value in various prop bets.
2022 NASCAR at Phoenix Picks
*Odds as of Wednesday morning
Christopher Bell Top Toyota (+1000)
Bell opened as high as 33-1 at some books, but has since been bet down to 25-1 at most shops.
However, his price on DraftKings to finish as top Toyota is more reflective of the 33-1 line.
Bell has excelled at the shorter, flat tracks of Richmond, New Hampshire and Phoenix. He had finishes of ninth or better at all five races last year at these tracks.
In those five races, Bell also finished as top Toyota once, while placing second one other time.
If we include Martinsville and Nashville, which are both shorter and flatter but have unique characteristics that make direct comparisons to Phoenix a bit more challenging, Bell adds two more top-nine finishes in three races.
That includes another finish as top Toyota.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Bell had a win at Phoenix, three wins at Richmond, three wins at New Hampshire and two wins at Iowa, which may be the best comparable track to Phoenix.
My model says he should be +500 for top Toyota. Even if it’s a little aggressive, +1000 is way too long.
I’d bet this down to +700.
Austin Cindric to Win Group (+260)
This group at BetMGM consists of:
- Ross Chastain (+260)
- Austin Cindric (+260)
- Austin Dillon (+270)
- Erik Jones (+270)
This looks a bit to me like an overreaction to the strong races Jones and Chastain had at Auto Club and Las Vegas, respectively.
Short, flat-track racing is a different style of racing from the previous two races and is one that Cindric excels at.
In his three most recent Phoenix starts in the XFINITY Series, Cindric won twice and finished second once when barely lost out on the XFINITY championship by getting edged to the line by Daniel Hemric.
In addition, the drivers he’s matched up against in this group aren’t amazing at Phoenix. In 20 combined starts with their current teams (I’m counting Trackhouse Racing as an extension of Chip Ganassi Racing for Chastain), the three others have combined to finish better than 14th only twice.
In other words, if Cindric can just be one of the best 13 drivers on the day, he has a very good shot of taking down this matchup.
My model gives Cindric a 30.8% chance of winning this group. That beats the implied odds of 27.8% quite handily.
That would translate to nearly a 10% ROI over the long run.
Todd Gilliland Top-10 Finish (+3600)
This is one of those seemingly wild, out there plays, but there’s a lot of merit to this bet.
First, this Next Gen car has produced increased attrition at Auto Club and Las Vegas. If that carries over, the distribution of every driver widens, which includes a driver’s upside.
Second, Gilliland has an excellent background on this track type. He came through the ARCA Menards Series West, the K&N East, the ARCA Menard Series and the NASCAR Truck Series.
In those developmental series, the vast majority of his 24 wins came on short, flat tracks.
Gilliland also posted the seventh-fastest time out of 18 drivers on day 2 of the Phoenix test for the Next Gen car. That beat out Larson and Kyle Busch, among others.
Gilliland is being priced in the same tier as Josh Bilicki, Garrett Smithley, Cody Ware and B.J. McLeod. And with all respect to those drivers, Gilliland is simply in better equipment, so he should be priced shorter than them.
Gilliland has finishes of 20th and 23rd so far at two intermediate tracks that don’t necessarily play to his strengths.
A top 10 isn’t out of the question. My model gives this a 2.5% chance of happening, which is below the 2.7% implied odds. But my model also can’t factor in Gilliland’s excellent short, flat track background or the Phoenix testing speeds.
That, plus the increased uncertainty with the Next Gen car is enough to push this over the edge for me and make a small bet.
While you can grab this 36-1 at FanDuel, it’s also available at 35-1 on DraftKings, but that’s also the lower limit at which I’d make this bet.
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