Wager Alarm NASCAR Best Bets: Bluegreen Vacations 500
Matt Selz studies the track, the drivers, the odds, and everything else to bring you the best bets for NASCAR's Bluegreen Vacations 500.
The penultimate race in the Cup series is this weekend at Phoenix and it’s setting up to be a doozy of one. There are still six drivers vying for a spot in the Championship race next weekend and with just two spots up for grabs, that means chaos can break out. This 1-mile track lends itself to hectic restarts and late-race drama which befits its spot on the Cup schedule.
The pole-sitter has only won five of the last 46 Cup races at Phoenix and the last one happened in 2013. However, drivers starting in the top-five have been quite successful in that span.
Denny Hamlin (5/2) – Hamlin is on the outside looking in on the playoffs right now and will likely need a win to make it to the Championship. He did have what appeared to be the best car in practice according to speeds and fellow competitors in the garage and then qualified third for the race. He started third in the March race and finished P5 and this car is better than that one. Objectively the odds are a bit high, but what can you expect from a guy with a solid history and potentially the best car this weekend.
Kyle Busch (3/1) – Busch is the back-to-back winner in the last two races at ISM and dominated the race in March by leading 177 laps after starting fourth. He will start on the pole this weekend, his first pole of the year, and quietly wants a win before the championship since he hasn’t won since Pocono nearly 20 races ago. Busch laid down top-five speeds in practice and having finished in the top-five seven of the last nine races here, these odds are pretty nice to get.
Kevin Harvick (7/2) – Harvick owns Phoenix. He’s won twice in the last five Fall races and has five straight top-fives in that span with a 3.2 average finish. When expanding to 10 races here, he’s got four wins and eight top-fives with a 3.4 average finish. He’s also led the most amount of laps and had the most fastest laps in that span as well as the top driver rating. We getting the picture? The issue is that he’s locked in to the Championship so the motivation might not be as high with him but at these odds and having a top-five car in practice, it’s hard to ignore Harvick.
Chase Elliott (7/1) – Elliott needs to win to make the Championship. It’s as simple as that. He’s got a good history here with a top-five and two top-10s in the last three Fall races and has four top-10s in seven Cup races. He will start P6 on Sunday and flashed top-five speed at practice, though not consistently. He also started second and finished 14th in March so that explains these odds a bit too.
Kyle Larson (15/1) – Larson is a guy on a mission this week and one that’s had some success here in the past, including in March when he finished P6 after starting P31. He is a bit hit-and-miss here with five top-10s in the last 10 races but he did have the fastest single lap, five-lap average, 10-lap average, and 15-lap average in the first practice, which was close to race conditions. Desperation can be a powerful factor in how a driver does in a race, and let’s take advantage of that with these odds.
Ryan Blaney (15/1) – Blaney led 94 laps here in the Spring after starting on the pole and finished 3rd. He has as equally fast of a car this week running top-three in practice before qualifying 10th, the worst qualifying playoff driver. He’s been reeling off top-10s here pretty frequently and with how he ran in March, he’s a dark horse this week to notch a win and a spot in the Championship race.
Aric Almirola (44/1) – Almirola is another guy who was close to winning the race in March after leading 26 laps and finishing P4 after starting P14. Almirola was one good late-race pit stop away from locking down that win instead of Kyle Busch. This week he’s back with a top-10 car and starting 11th and a proven ability to move up in the field here. Almirola is still looking for his first win this year and if he can repeat the success he had in March, these odds are a nice payoff.
Matt DiBenedetto (55/1) – DiBenedetto has shined bright on shorter tracks this year in this package and that looks to be the case again this weekend. He ran in the top-10 all weekend in practice and then qualified P16 for the race. Matty D has a few different top-fives in this package and looks to have the speed to pull off another one this week and at these odds, that’s a nice potential payday.
Ryan Newman (200/1) – Newman’s last win in the Cup series came at Phoenix a few years ago with a late-race pit stop call. This year, he’s been moving up through the field masterfully and in this package he’s averaged a 12.6 average finish in 10 races. Once again the speed isn’t top notch, but that hasn’t matter much previously with Newman this year so at these odds it’s worth the shot on the bet.