COLUMN: Bettin’ a Past Winner at Phoenix Raceway May Be Key to Cashing In

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

I’ve said several times that finding the right driver to bet on this season is NASCAR is no easy task as the new car plays more of a role in finishes than many people thought it would, so going off past races alone could leave bettors lighter in the wallet. Still, that doesn’t mean to ignore drivers who have had strong runs in the Next Gen car during the first three races of the NASCAR Cup Series 2022 season or who’ve put together past strong runs in the Sonoran Desert.

So … which driver has both the aforementioned qualities and be a decent return on investment should they cross the finish line first. Picking the winner of a NASCAR race is no easy task due to all of the outside variables that play a factor. In this case, most people would think the right pick would, again, be Kyle Larson. At 4.5 to 1, he will bring the least money of any driver in the field and he is starting from the back after having to make changes to the car after qualifying. You’d think the oddsmakers would take that into account and bump him to 5 to 1 but they didn’t. Nor did they consider that Larson’s overall driver ranking at Phoenix Raceway is fifth behind his teammate Chase Elliott, who is second on the board just barely behind top-ranked, Kevin Harvick.

Elliott is just 1.4 points behind Harvick in driver rankings but has a higher average start (4.5 for Elliott to 7.9 for Harvick) and at mid-race, he is his position is 7.8 overall ahead of Harvick’s 7.9. Where Harvick gets the edge is with finishes. His average finish is 7.7 and Elliott’s is 10.7. That average is obviously boosted because Harvick has won at Phoenix nine times in his career to Elliott’s single victory. However, Harvick has 38 starts compared to 12 for Elliott.

Now, looking to the odds, I am picking Elliott at 10 to 1 as my favorite to win today but I am going to back that bet up with a wager on Harvick at 18 to 1. Elliott will start the race in sixth and Harvick will start from 16th. Only one can win, so picking two drivers as favorites to hedge your bets may be the smart play today. Or you can do what I am doing and consider Harvick a mid-tier value bet.

Looking down the sheet for a longshot pick, it’s hard not to go with Kurt Busch at 60 to 1, today. He starts one spot ahead of Harvick and his past performance at Phoenix Raceway puts him eighth in the overall NASCAR driver rankings. And he is sixth overall in his average running position compared to the other drivers in the race. In fairness and full-disclosure, Kurt Busch has the second-worst closing rate of any driver at Phoenix, just ahead of Joey Logano, who is a 10 to 1 favorite. So, I don’t put a lot of stock into closing numbers because they share the bottom half of those statistics with a ton of solid drivers, including Kyle Busch (10 to 1), Brad Keselowski (40 to1) and Alex Bowman (25 to 1).

For the record, I like Keselowski at 40 to 1 odds and Bowman’s number put him as a huge value-bet play. Considering the fact that Bowman is also a hometown guy (Tucson, Ariz.), he’s going to want to pull into victory lane for all those fans that have cheered him on at the local tracks throughout his career.

Remember, it’s gambling and that involves financial risk. So, if you can’t afford to bet real money, don’t. I back up my picks each week with a few dollars just to show that I believe in my recommendations but at the end of the day, this column is for your entertainment and hopefully, it gives you a little bit of an education to make your betting decisions. My picks are by no means a guarantee to win and, so far this season, I haven’t visited the payout window, yet.

NASCAR Cup Series – Ruoff Mortgage 500
Phoenix Raceway  
Driver Odds
Kyle Larson 4.5 to 1
Ryan Blaney 6.5 to 1
Denny Hamlin 6.5 to 1
William Byron 8 to 1
Kyle Busch 10 to 1
Joey Logano 10 to 1
Chase Elliott 10 to 1
Martin Truex Jr. 14 to 1
Kevin Harvick 18 to 1
Christopher Bell 18 to 1
Austin Cindric 20 to 1
Aric Almirola 20 to 1
Tyler Reddick 20 to 1
Chase Briscoe 25 to 1
Alex Bowman 25 to 1
Brad Keselowski 40 to 1
Austin Dillon 50 to 1
Ross Chastain 60 to 1
Kurt Busch 60 to 1
A.J. Allmendinger 60 to 1
Erik Jones 70 to 1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 80 to 1
Bubba Wallace 100 to 1
Daniel Suarez 150 to 1
Cole Custer 150 to 1
Chris Buescher 150 to 1
Justin Haley 200 to 1
Harrison Burton 200 to 1
Landon Cassill 300 to 1
Todd Gilliland 500 to 1
Ty Dillon 500 to 1
Michael McDowell 500 to 1
Corey Lajoie 500 to 1
Garrett Smithley 1000 to 1
Cody Ware 1000 to 1
B.J. McLeod 1000 to 1
NOTE: Odds this week are from DraftKings Sportsbook. Remember, gambling is not legal for anyone under 21 years of age. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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