2017 Can-Am 500 Race Predictions

Nov 12, 2017 by Nascar Wagers

2017 Can-Am 500 Race Predictions

2017 Can-Am 500 Race Predictions
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Betting Preview
Sunday November 12th, 2:37PM (EST) at Phoenix International Raceway
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

The stage is nearly set for the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week. Currently 3 of the 4 championship drivers are locked into the finale including Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, and last week’s Texas winner Kevin Harvick. Today the final spot in the “Championship 4” will be decided with the running of the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. For those outside of the championship battle, today’s race at Phoenix provides another opportunity to score a win before the conclusion of the season. Remember back in the spring when Ryan Newman gambled on tire strategy to stay out on a late race caution? Well that move earned Newman a surprise victory and several drivers are hoping for their opportunity to score a checkered flag today. Take a look as we preview today’s race and provide our 2017 Can-Am 500 race predictions!

If you are wondering about the championship picture, let me summarize things for everyone. Currently Brad Keselowski sits in the 4th position 19 points ahead of 5th place Denny Hamlin. Pole sitter Ryan Blaney is currently just 3 points behind Hamlin in the 6th position and 22 points back to the cutoff line. Obviously Keselowski has the advantage in terms of points but that could all be erased if the #2 has trouble this afternoon or if any of the other Chase competitors steal a victory which earns a guaranteed bid to Homestead. Both Hamlin and Blaney are mathematically alive on points if Keselowski runs into trouble but they definitely need Keselowski to have a bad day. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson are in must-win scenarios in order to advance.

With the playoffs conundrum out of the way, let’s discuss what we can truly expect this afternoon. Let’s start with the obvious surrounding Mr. Phoenix, AKA Kevin Harvick. After screaming for several weeks that Harvick and the #4 team were very close to winning, the team got it done last week by overtaking Martin Truex in the later stages for the victory at Texas. Now with momentum and confidence, Harvick gets the chance for an encore at his best track. “Happy” has scored 8 victories at Phoenix International Raceway which is the most all-time among Cup Series drivers. In the last 10 races alone, he has scored 6 of those victories including a stretch of 4 straight from fall 2013 to the spring of 2015. Harvick’s last victory at Phoenix come in the spring race last year but he has posted finished of 4th and 6th in his last two starts. The team struggled with the handling in those races but feels they have brought more of the “old” feel to the track this week. After sweeping both of Saturday’s practice with the fastest lap in each session, how could anyone not list Harvick as the top driver for today’s race?

I guess the better questions is who can win if Harvick cannot get the job done? After all, we seen gambles on strategy pay off at Phoenix in the spring and that is something we cannot rule out again today. Tire wear is not significant at Phoenix meaning you do not lose a lot of lap speed with tire usage which opens up the door for strategy on pit road. Since track position is so important and passing is difficult, do not be surprised to see teams elect 2 tire strategies in effort to gain track position. If we get a late race caution, we should expect a mixed variety of all strategies especially since Newman proved “no” tires could be done in the spring and we have several playoff contenders who may feel a little “desperate” by the end of today’s race.

Obviously to pull off strategy moves, you need to be somewhere near the front in the closing laps. The difficult part is predicting who will be there by the end of this race. The reason I say “difficult” is because there was so many drivers that have shown speed in practices. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex have been fast everywhere during the season. The same holds true to this weekend. Both cars were in the top 6 in both of Saturday’s practices and looked good in race trim. Busch’s record at Phoenix in recent races includes finishes of 4th, 4th, 2nd, and 3rd which are the same in average to Harvick in the last 4 starts. I personally thought the #18 looked better than the #78 but in all honesty I am not sure if that matters. Truex’s strength this season has come after about 20-30 laps depending on track size and that is not something that is going to show up on practice speeds. However, I do believe Truex usually benefits from tracks with higher tire wear because that team does not lose speed in their setups. Considering Phoenix’s lack of tire falloff that could hurt Truex’s chances today compared to the competition.

While I am sure a lot of people will pick the “obvious” favorites like Truex and Busch who have been so dominate this season. I will boldly proclaim that everyone needs to consider guys like Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and perhaps even Chase Elliott as a part of the “favorites.” I thought Johnson’s speed in practices was the best the #48 car has looked in months. Despite the struggles at the 1.5 mile tracks this season, Johnson has been solid on the 1 mile or shorter surfaces where raw speed is diluted. Hamlin was equally strong from a practice standpoint and the #11 has been fast everywhere in recent weeks. The #11 team has posted 5 straight finishes of 7th or better and are coming off a 3rd place showing last week at Texas. Lastly, let’s not forget about Chase Elliott. Elliott has been a borderline top 10 car in all 3 of his Phoenix starts in his short career. However, this was another team that was really happy with the car at the end of practices. Perhaps the overall speed did not show in single lap runs but Elliott was really happy with the car. Therefore, I strongly encourage everyone to consider these 3 drivers, especially Hamlin and Johnson who appear best, because they all seemingly need victories to keep their championship hopes alive.

Another driver that was strong in practices and needs no explanation is Kyle Larson. Larson was 2nd fastest in 10 lap averages in the first practice on Saturday before sliding a little bit on paper in Happy Hour. Still, Larson has posted finishes of 3rd and 2nd in his last two Phoenix starts and that alone garnishes respect heading into today’s race. Outside of the names listed above, I am not overly confident with any other drivers and obviously you have to narrow down your list even from the amount of names discussed above to make it plausible in a betting lineup. I personally do not see how you can avoid having Harvick in your lineup and I believe guys like Hamlin and Johnson still hold some value. I really like Kyle Busch as well but from an odds standpoint, it would be hard to find a way to fit him into your roster if you are also taking Harvick.

As for other observations, I always like to provide some other thoughts for potential dark horses or fantasy fliers. For today’s race, I would consider guys like Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne strong options for drivers that should run well. Both drivers qualified in mediocre positions with Bowyer in 20th and Kahne in 17th. However, both were very fast in practice and have some positive upside at Phoenix in terms of track history. Therefore, I feel like they will move forward from their starting positions. On the other hand, I was not impressed with any of the Penske Racing Fords. Keselowski, Logano, and even pole sitter Ryan Blaney appeared to be lacking speed. Keselowski was noticeably off which could make things interesting from a championship perspective but all of the Penske Racing cars appeared to be “lacking.” Perhaps they made some overnight adjustments to improve as a group but I definitely did not like the speed in those cars on Saturday

2017 Can-Am 500 Race Predictions

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Bet at sportbet

Kyle Larson +800 (1.25 units)
Jimmie Johnson +1000 (1 unit)

Two Team Parlay

Kevin Harvick/Denny Hamlin +267 wins Can-Am 500
Ty Dillon +125 over Trevor Bayne
Risking 1.5 units to win: +1088

H2H Matchups and Props

Erik Jones +115 over Brad Keselowski (2 units)
Denny Hamlin -110 over Martin Truex Jr (2 units)
Clint Bowyer +1000 finishes Top 3 (.5 unit)
Kasey Kahne +1100 finishes Top 3 (.5 unit)

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