CJ almost remained undefeated on Sunday at Las Vegas if Kyle Larson hung on for the win. Instead, William Byron stole it. Neither of us had him. Now, we’ll try to regroup for Sundays race at Phoenix.
RACE FUTURES: UNITED RENTALS 500
8-1…R Blaney, K Larson and J Logano
10-1…R Chastain and D Hamlin
11-1…M Truex Jr.
12-1…W Byron and K Harvick
18-1…A Bowman and C Briscoe
35-1…D Suarez and D Wallace
40-1…B Keselowski and Preece
50-1…A Almirola, A Cindric and T Gibbs
66-1…A Dillon and E Jones
80-1…AJ Allmendinger and Buescher
100-1…N Gragson and C Lajoie
200-1…H Burton and R Stenhouse Jr
NOTE: Each analyst has a weekly wagering limit of $100.
NOTE: The weekly wagering limits will increase $100 for each playoff round ending with a $500 wagering limit for the Championship Four race.
UNITED RENTALS 500 PICKS: RACE 4
R Blaney…8-1…$25 ($200)
K Larson…8-1…$25 ($200)
R Chastain…10-1…$20 ($200)
K Harvick…12-1…$15 ($180)
A Bowman…18-1…$7 ($126)
D Suarez…35-1…$5 ($175)
A Cindric…50-1…$3 ($150)
R Blaney…8-1…$15 ($120)
K Larson…8-1…$15 ($120)
J Logano…8-1…$15 ($120)
K Busch…9-1…$13 ($117)
R Chastain…10-1…$12 ($120)
D Hamlin…10-1…$12 ($120)
M Truex Jr…11-1…$10 ($110)
C Bell…14-1…$8 ($112)
R Blaney…8-1…$19 ($152)
J Logano…8-1…$19 ($152)
K Busch…9-1…$14 ($126)
R Chastain…10-1…$15 ($150)
D Hamlin…10-1…$15 ($150)
C Briscoe…18-1…$9 ($162)
D Suarez…35-1…$4 ($132)
B Keselowski…40-1…$3 ($120)
C Buescher…80-1…$2 ($160)
WEEKLY RACE PICKS STANDINGS
RECORD: 2 for 3
RECORD: 1 for 3
RECORD: 1 for 3
PENNZOIL 400 PICKS: RACE 3
PENNZOIL 400 RACE WINNER: William Byron
K Busch…6-1…$15 ($90)
R Chastain…8-1…$25 ($200)
D Hamlin…10-1…$20 ($200)
R Blaney…12-1…$20 ($240)
E Jones…40-1…$3 ($120)
B Wallace…40-1…$3 ($120)
C Briscoe…40-1…$7 ($280)
A Dillon…50-1…$2 ($100)
B Keselowski…50-1…$2 ($100)
D Suarez…50-1…$3 ($150)
RECORD: 0 for 1
K Busch…6-1…$19 ($120)
K Larson…7-1…$18 ($105)
R Chastain…8-1…$15 ($112)
J Logano…8-1…$15 ($112)
C Elliott…10-1…$12 ($120)
D Hamlin…10-1…$11 ($110)
C Bell…12-1…$10 ($120)
RECORD: 0 for 1
K Busch…6-1…$20 ($120)
K Larson…7-1…$15 ($105)
D Hamlin…10-1…$11 ($110)
C Bell…12-1…$10 ($120)
M Truex Jr…12-1…$10 ($120)
T Reddick…15-1…$10 ($150)
A Bowman…20-1…$6 ($120)
B Wallace…40-1…$4 ($150)
RECORD: 0 for 1
Sunday will mark the 54th time the NASCAR Cup Series has raced at the Phoenix Raceway. They first started coming to the Arizona desert in the fall of 1988. The spring race though wasn’t added until 2005.
- Starting position matters in Phoenix. 10 of the last 11 Phoenix winners have come from a top 10 starting spot. In fact, 14 of the last 17 have started in the first 5 Rows including 8 of the last 9 from the top 6 at that.
- We’ve only seen 1 overtime finish in the last 11 races.
- The final green flag run was just 3 laps last spring but the championship races’ final stint was 33 laps from green to checkered.
- In the spring race of 2021, the final 25 laps went green while the final 24 laps in the playoff race that year went green to checkered.
- We went green for the final 112 laps in the 2020 playoff race without a yellow in the final stage.
- For 2019, the spring race went 74 laps from green to checkered over the final run but only three in the playoff event.
- In 2018, it was 114 laps (spring) and 12 laps (Fall) over the final green flag run to the distance.
- The driver to win the spring race in Phoenix has only went on to win the series championship just three times – Terry Labonte (1984), Dale Earnhardt (1990) and Jeff Gordon (1995).
- We’ve had four different organizations and six different drivers win the spring race in the last six years which all started with Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing) in 2017. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) Joey Logano (Team Penske), Martin Truex JR. (JGR) and Chase Briscoe (SHR) each followed.
- Ford dominated last year at Phoenix. They led 89% (558-for-624 laps led) including 248 of the 312 in the spring race and 310 of the 312 in the Fall.
- Hendrick Motorsports led 65 of the remaining 66 laps between the two races with the only other driver to lead a lap in Phoenix last year being AJ Allmendinger (1 lap, Fall race).
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- Martin Truex Jr. in the 2021 spring race was the only driver since the 2017 Fall race to not score stage points in both stages and to win at Phoenix.
- In fact, since the stages were introduced in 2017, he’s the only driver not to score stage points in Stage 1 and win in the end.
- 7 of the last 8 Phoenix races saw the eventual race winner get a top five in the opening stage. Chase Briscoe finished 2nd in Stage 1 back in last year’s spring race while Joey Logano won the opening stage.
- Furthermore, 7 of the last 9 race winners had a top 2 in Stage 2. Briscoe was 8th in March but Logano 2nd in November.
- Basically, a driver in the top five in Stage 1 and top 2 in Stage 2 is your winner on Sunday.
AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 06: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, crosses the finish line ahead of Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, to win the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 06, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Logano didn’t used to be among the ones to beat at Phoenix but over his last seven starts, he has six Top-10 finishes including a win in the spring race in 2020, a third in that year’s playoff race as well as a runner-up in the 2021 spring race too in race that he led the most laps (143). Last year, he led four laps and finished eighth in the spring race but returned in the Fall to not only win the pole, but lead 187 of 312 laps en route to the win and a championship as well.
One of the top Penske drivers at this track. Blaney, has seven Top-10’s in his last eight at Phoenix starts including a pair of third place runs in 2019, 10th and sixth in 2020 and 10th (35 laps led) and fourth in 2201 and fourth and second respectively last year. He led 143 laps and won Stage 2 in the spring race of a year ago but pit road on his final stop kept him from victory lane. Last Fall, he led another 109 laps and was runner-up to teammate Joey Logano. He was seventh and 10th at Richmond last year and only 18th at Loudon though. Blaney was third in the Martinsville playoff race too.
He was 2nd and 3rd respectively in his two Phoenix starts a year ago. The only thing that makes me somewhat leery is the fact that he was only 19th and 18th in Richmond and eighth in Loudon last year. However, his 2023 stats are an improvement over 2022 and with the way that this season is going, watch out for Chastain.
“Rowdy” enters Phoenix with 13 top-7 finishes including nine of them being in the Top-4 in his last 15 tries. In 2018 and again in 2019, he was first or second in both events. He finished third in the spring race of 2020 but 11th, 25th, seventh, seventh and seventh since though too. Now, he’s in a Chevrolet car that finished third in this very race a year ago. Busch was runner-up in this car in the Clash too and has a great shot of winning two of the three west coast swing races.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has 11 Top-10 finishes in his last 14 starts in the desert including five Top-5 finishes in his last eight Phoenix starts in general. At Richmond last season, he was first and fourth respectively while finishing sixth also at Loudon. He led 203 laps in the Fall Martinsville race and if not for his pit crew, a win was likely. While Toyota’s struggled at Phoenix last year, if one of them is going to win, it’s Hamlin.
The proverbial “king of the desert” has been astounding in Phoenix. Since 2012, Harvick has seven wins alone to go along with 11 top two finishes (22 tries). Furthermore, Harvick has finished worse than seventh in just three of those 22 starts too. He was 6th in the spring race but restarted third in the end. He just didn’t have the launch to contend for the win and got eaten alive. He came back to finish fifth last Fall.
Also, Harvick was 2nd and 1st respectively at Richmond last year and finished 5th at Loudon too.
Now he can attempt to become just the sixth driver to win 10 or more races at a single track with a win this weekend:
In saying that, his only deterrent is, he hasn’t won with this new configuration.
Harvick hasn’t exactly been like the Harvick of old at Phoenix lately. While he does have seven wins to go along with nine top two finishes in his last 22 starts, to go along with finishing worse than sixth just three times since 2012, he’s not won since the track was reconfigured. He’s 0-for-8.
This change has been his kryptonite you could say. It’s kind of like we all saying if Kyle Larson could ever get to the Championship 4 when the final race was held at Homestead, then just give him the trophy in prerace. Well, we all thought that about Harvick when the final round was moved to Phoenix for 2020 and beyond. Harvick, was eliminated in the Round of 8 in 2 of the last 3 years and in the opening round this one.
8 of his last 9 Phoenix results have seen him finish fifth or worse. 10 of his previous 13 on the old configuration saw him finish fourth or better.
Won this race a year ago after leading 101 laps. He was fourth last Fall after leading 11 more laps.
He did pick up a Top-10 in the spring race and was also fifth at Loudon too. Also, Suarez is 1 of just 2 drivers with a top 10 finish in every race thus far this season.
Was 11th last Fall, coming into this weekend off of a top 10 and has three straight top two finishes in the Xfinity Series here.
He won at Bristol last year, was third last time out in Richmond and had a Top-10 here in the spring of last season as well.
This didn’t use to be one of his better tracks. Now it’s become one. Larson, has three Top-5 finishes in his last six there including being seventh and first respectively in 2021, 34th and 9th last year. However, that spring race finish isn’t indicative on how strong his car was because he was seventh and fifth in the first 2 stages. The thing is, while having seven Top-10 finishes in his last eight Phoenix tries, Larson also has just one career win in 17 Phoenix starts in Cup as well. He is 0-for-1 in Trucks and 0-for-5 in the Xfinity Series. On like tracks last season, Larson was fifth and 14th at Richmond as well as 14th at Loudon.
He was ninth in both Phoenix races in 2021, won Loudon last year and was sixth and second respectively at Richmond too a season ago. Bell finished 26th and 10th last season in Phoenix too giving him no Top-5 finishes in five Cup starts in the Arizona desert.
Martin Truex Jr.
He finally won at Phoenix in the 2021 spring race and was runner-up that Fall. It was a huge load off of his shoulders because quite frankly, until he joined Joe Gibbs Racing, he never was much of a threat there either. However, Truex was only 35th and 15th respectively last year. That doesn’t concern me as much because Truex won the Clash back in early February and has been solid in the spring race here as of late with finishing fifth, second, 32nd, first and 35th respectively. While he may not win, this is a great fantasy play.
He has a quiet four top 10’s in his last six starts in Phoenix. The only thing that scares me is that he has no top five results in 10 Phoenix tries as well. He’s a good fantasy play on Sunday though.
He was 33rd, 19th, 29th and 19th in his first four Phoenix starts in Cup before a third place run last March. However, he was 12th and 31st in Richmond last season and 21st in Loudon too. In the return trip last November, Reddick placed 23rd.
He has never scored a Top-10 in 10 Phoenix starts with HMS. He was eighth and 20th at Richmond last season and 35th in Loudon.
Since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing, Almirola has been stout in Phoenix. The Florida native has finished in the Top-10 in six of his last 1o starts including being eighth, 11th and 12th in his last three March starts. With Ford being the top manufacturer, worth a look his direction.
In 20 career starts in Cup at Phoenix, Dillon has no Top-5s and just two Top-10s.