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2017 Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Predictions

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 in NASCAR Betting, Nascar Betting Blog, NASCAR Handicapping | 0 comments

2017 Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Predictions

2017 Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Predictions
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Betting Preview
Sunday November 19th, 2:46PM (EST) at Homestead-Miami Speedway
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

Today an era in sports will end when Dale Earnhardt Jr fires the engine on the #88 chevrolet for the final time and JR Nation bows one final salute to NASCAR’s most popular driver. While Earnhardt’s farewell will be bittersweet for the sport, there will be several storylines unfolding in the Ford EcoBoost 400 this afternoon. Both Matt Kenseth and Danica Patrick are expected to be making their final starts as full-time competitors. Not to mention, there is still a championship that has to be decided among NASCAR’s biggest names in Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski. As we prepare to conclude another successful season here at NASCARWagers, we take this time to preview the season finale and provide our 2017 Ford EcoBoost 400 race predictions!

So far this weekend, we have witnessed an excellent championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Christopher Bell kicked off things late Friday night by capturing the Camping World Truck Series Championship. Then yesterday William Byron and Elliott Sadler put on an epic battle for the championship in the closing laps of the Ford EcoBoost 300. In the end, Byron became the 2nd youngest driver to win the Xfinity Series Championship behind Chase Elliott. Byron will have the luxury of joining Elliott next year at Hendrick Motorsports and it is safe to say that both drivers are going to be major players in the Cup Series for years to come.

While the future of NASCAR is as promising as ever, today all eyes will be on the veterans as Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski battle 400 miles for the biggest prize in motorsports by way of a championship. I know most of our readers could care less about the championship. After all, we are here to cash winning tickets and make money. However, this race will likely be won by a member of the “Championship 4.” Between the 4 Chase drivers, they have won a remarkable 8 of the last 9 races. I understand it is possible that a non-Chase driver wins today’s race but you have to consider the likelihood is much smaller considering the strength of the championship drivers this year.

For starters, Martin Truex Jr has had the best season of his career and one of the best seasons in NASCAR history on the 1.5 mile surfaces where the #78 has scored 6 wins. Due to his strength on the 1.5 mile tracks this year, Truex is the favorite to win today’s race and is the only driver among the “Championship 4” that has not won a prior Championship. Harvick, Keselowski, and Busch are all former champions and have all won multiple races this year. Busch has probably been the most consistent challenger to the #78 this season but the #4 team has found momentum in recent weeks as well.

In practices on Saturday, Harvick, Busch, and Truex stood out as the best cars in the field. I know that fact is not very surprising but I don’t want that fact to be under estimated for the simple reason they are battling for a championship either. Those 3 cars were literally in a class by themselves. Keselowski was not too far out of the picture but he was not exactly on the same level as the other championship competitors either. I would possibly bring the #11 and #42 cars into the conversation in terms of speed if we are talking potential winners. Hamlin will be starting from the pole and I will admit that he was very fast in practices. My only concern for the #11 is maintaining speed over the course of green flag runs. The #11 appeared to have bigger falloff in lap times compared to the other perceived favorites. Since tire wear is significant and lap times have huge fall off, drivers cannot afford to have a car that loses speed as this race progresses. In my opinion, the cars that maintain speed after 15 consecutive laps are going to be the guys that have the best chance for victory.

With that being said, I think Truex and Harvick have the best long run speed. Both Hamlin and Busch had excellent takeoff speed. However, the #4 and #78 machines were clearly best on long runs. I think everyone is aware of how strong Truex has been on the long runs this year and I have been amazed at the #78 team’s ability to maintain speed on the long runs at places with heavy tire wear. While I think that narrative holds true again today, I will step away from the beaten path to make a bold prediction in stating I believe Harvick will win this race.

If you follow my weekly previews, I have been very keen on the #4 team for the 2nd half of the season and when Harvick overtook Truex at Texas for the win; I believe it was foretelling. As a team, the #4 is doing everything they need. As a driver, Harvick is one of the best at this type of racing with heavy tire wear and a groove that will extend towards the wall. In Happy Hour, Harvick also had the best times of anyone past lap 15 in terms of consecutive laps so I think he will be strong when it matters most on long runs. Therefore, Harvick is my favorite for today’s race barring any misfortune.

In terms of any surprise winners, I am not sure I have much hope in any “upset” bids. I mentioned Kyle Larson earlier in terms of speed. Not that Larson would be an “upset” but I think Homestead is the perfect track for a driver like Larson who is arguably one of the purest raw driving talents in the series. My only concern with Larson is the team was fighting with the balance on the #42 machine. He had good speed on the long runs but his lap times were very inconsistent which presumably is product of the handling issues. Larson is currently listed among the favorites for today’s race and while I like his chances, I wish he was getting better value from odds makers.

I really thought Chase Elliott would be in the mix when the green flag waves today considering his form over the past several weeks. Elliott has posted 3 runner-up finishes since the Chase began and he is another driver that I was high on when the week started. However, the #24 was far down the charts on Saturday finishing outside the top 25 in both sessions. Therefore, I am not sure what we should expect from Elliott later today. If you are looking for potential H2H or fantasy drivers for your lineups, then I would give mentions to Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer.

I put Kahne into that category because I thought he closed out Happy Hour with some really strong lap times. Most drivers posted long runs at the beginning of practice but Kahne was one of the few that ran several laps at the end of practice when the track had lost speed. However, Kahne’s time were still impressive at the end of Happy Hour. Additionally Clint Bowyer is a sneaky play in terms of value. Bowyer has a really strong track history at Homestead which includes top 12 finishes from 2008-2014. The #14 was another driver that showed vast improvement throughout every stage of the weekend and I believe they have a car that Bowyer can drive towards the front. Lastly for those wondering about Dale Jr’s final ride, the #88 did not look bad. I know this has not been the greatest farewell tour for Earnhardt but the #88 showed some speed so perhaps he can go out with a top 10 finish.

With today’s race, that marks another great year for us at NASCARWagers. I would like to thank all of our readers to our content and contributors in our forums. I believe through our previews this year that, without any doubt, we were the sharpest bettors in NASCAR. Our previews were consistently on top of the drivers to watch even when they did not make our official lineups. I just wanted to thank everyone for a great year and the positive messages that I receive each week. We have some plans to make things even better for 2018!

2017 Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Predictions

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Chase Elliott +1650 (1 unit) *Early forums play

Two Team Parlays

Kevin Harvick +635 wins Ford EcoBoost 400
Daniel Suarez +115 over Jamie McMurray
Risking 1.25 units to win: +1850

Martin Truex Jr +265 wins Ford EcoBoost 400
Joey Logano +125 over Erik Jones
Risking 1.25 units to win: +900

Kyle Larson +470 wins Ford EcoBoost 400
Ryan Blaney +130 over Chase Elliott
Risking 1 unit to win: +1210

H2H Matchups

Kevin Harvick -155 over Brad Keselowski (4 units)
Clint Bowyer -115 over Kurt Busch (2 units)
Clint Bowyer +1500 finishes Top 3 (.5 unit)
Daniel Suarez +1300 finishes Top 5 (.5 unit)

2017 Ford EcoBoost 300 Race Predictions

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in NASCAR Betting, Nascar Betting Blog, NASCAR Handicapping | 0 comments

2017 Ford EcoBoost 300 Race Predictions

2017 Ford EcoBoost 300 Race Predictions
NASCAR Xfinity Series Betting Preview
Saturday November 18th, 3:46PM (EST) at Homestead-Miami Speedway
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

Last night Christopher Bell capped off a dominant season by winning the Camping World Truck Series Championship with a runner-up finish to first time winner Chase Briscoe in the Ford EcoBoost 200. All four of the championship drivers finished in the top 6 positions in what turned out to be a very entertaining race for the championship. Today the championship drama carries over to the Xfinity Series with the running of the Ford EcoBoost 300. Another four drivers are set to battle it out over 300 miles for the championship and we take this time to provide our thoughts on how everything will unfold. Take a look as we provide our 2017 Ford EcoBoost 300 race predictions!

For a quick championship synopsis, the “Championship 4” includes 3 JR. Motorsports drivers between William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler. The only driver not in the JR. Motorsports brigade is rookie Daniel Hemric who has to be considered a huge underdog. Sadler and Hemric have stayed alive through points this season. Neither driver has been able to win this year which is the main reason both are considered pretty sizable underdogs this afternoon. Meanwhile, Justin Allgaier has scored 2 wins while William Byron leads all Xfinity Series full-time drivers with 4 victories.

Before last week, Byron had largely underperformed throughout the Chase but his win at Phoenix proves that he is the perceived driver to beat once again. If Byron was to get the job done, it would poetic justice on the heels of last year’s Truck Series heartbreak. For those that remember, Byron torched the Truck Series last year with the greatest rookie season in history with 7 victories. However, Byron blew an engine with just 12 laps to go at Phoenix which knocked him out of the playoffs. A week later the rookie scored a bittersweet win in the finale at Homestead but the championship went to Johnny Sauter. Today Byron has a chance to reclaim what was lost a season ago.

On Friday, Byron looked very strong in terms of lap speeds in practices. The #9 car topped the charts in final practice and has consecutive laps looked solid as well. He is showing on the bottom of 10 lap averages but that is because the #9 kept the same tires on throughout the entire session when he ran those laps. As usual, lap speeds on paper can be misleading. However, rest assured Byron was the best of the championship drivers and arguably the best of anyone for that matter.

If you are going to handicap a track like Homestead, please do not make the mistake of looking at single lap speeds. I know people will probably think drivers like Allgaier, Sadler, and Hemric have limited chances because they were outside the top 10 in fast times. However, I assure you those teams were working on race trim setups which is most critical at Homestead due to the significant falloff in lap times due to tire wear. Due to other handicapping similarities with surface structure, tire notes, and similar setups, I expect both Sadler and Allgaier to be upfront regardless of what lap times may have suggested.

Of course I do not want to spend all our time talking about the championship drivers especially since we have so many other talented drivers showing on the entry list. Part-time fill-ins like Christopher Bell, Sam Hornish Jr, Ryan Preece, and Tyler Reddick will all be in action. Amazingly all 4 of those drivers have scored wins this year. With so many young talented drivers, this race becomes harder to know exactly what to expect. Still, I feel like Bell and Reddick have the best opportunities to spoil the show. Bell is simply a natural and has the luxury of piloting the fastest car in the series by way of the #20 machine. Meanwhile, Reddick and the #42 have been getting the job done in recent starts with a win at Kentucky and runner-up at Kansas in his last 2 starts on the 1.5 mile surfaces. I feel like the runner-up at Kansas is relatable because of the groove similarities that Kansas shares with Homestead. Therefore, I think Reddick’s value is elevated once again.

Reddick should also bring bettors value in H2H situations as well. Reddick and Cole Custer may be two of the best values on the board in terms of matchups. Custer is one of the most underrated weekly value plays with top 10 finishes in 9 of his last 11 races. If you go back to Chicagoland which I like to compare with Homestead because it shares setup and tire similarities, Custer piloted the #00 to a 7th place finish and led 41 laps. On Friday, Custer was once again fast with the best 10 lap average in Happy Hour. Therefore, I would keep the #00 on your dark horse radar.

2017 Ford EcoBoost 300 Race Predictions

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Tyler Reddick +750 (1.25 units)
Elliott Sadler +1500(1 unit)
Justin Allgaier +2000 (1 unit)

Two Team Parlays

Christopher Bell +575 wins Ford EcoBoost 300
Team 2 – Open
Risking .75 unit to win: TBD

H2H Matchups

Christopher Bell -140 over Ryan Preece (3 units)
Daniel Hemric -160 over Matt Tift (2 units)
Elliott Sadler +160 over William Byron (1 unit)

2017 Ford EcoBoost 200 Race Predictions

Posted by on Nov 17, 2017 in NASCAR Betting, Nascar Betting Blog, NASCAR Handicapping | 0 comments

2017 Ford EcoBoost 200 Race Predictions

2017 Ford EcoBoost 200 Race Predictions
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Betting Preview
Friday November 17th, 8:18PM (EST) at Homestead-Miami Speedway
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

The final race of the season for the Camping World Truck Series takes place tonight with the running of the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. All eyes will be on the “Championship 4” which includes Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton, and Austin Cindric. After several weeks of drama surrounding the Chase, tonight the formula is simple with the highest finisher being crowned the series champion. We take this time to provide our expectations surrounding tonight’s season finale and provide our 2017 Ford EcoBoost 200 race predictions!

While everyone will have their eyes on the championship drivers this evening, the main item of importance to us is determining the future winner. Among the championship drivers, I don’t believe Austin Cindric nor Matt Crafton will be able to win this race. Crafton is still winless this year on the pavement and did not show much speed in practices this morning. The former series champion has scored a win at Homestead as recently as 2015. However, the #88 team just has failed to produce the speed this year and I do not like their chances this evening. I also give Cindric very little hope tonight as well. Unlike Crafton, Cindric has shown speed in recent weeks but I just do not think he has enough speed. More importantly, I would fear retaliation from Ben Rhodes after last week’s incident that earned Cindric the spot in the “Championship 4.”

For the other two championship drivers between Johnny Sauter and Christopher Bell, I think everyone expects the championship to come down to these two drivers and potentially the overall victory in the Ford EcoBoost 200. Both Sauter and Bell have been dominate this year. Bell leads the series with 5 victories and has arguably been the best driver all season. However, Sauter is in championship form similar to the way they ended the season last year in route to the Truck Series championship. Sauter has won the last two races and it appears to have a lot of momentum on his side. The #21 also led the opening practice with the fastest lap of the weekend.

Still, I am not sure I could give Sauter the advantage tonight in terms of expectations. The team’s fast lap in the opening session was due to a mock qualifying run and more importantly Christopher Bell showed a lot of speed in race trim. The #4 team worked on race trim from the opening of the first practice and was strong throughout both of this morning’s sessions. I watched lap times very closely among both practices and Bell was clearly the fastest of trucks that were running consecutive laps.

Still, I would not hand the trophy over to Bell just yet. One thing about Homestead is that strategy will come into play. Lap times have significant falloff over the course of green flag runs. Lap times can fall off as much as 1-2 seconds just after 10 laps and that leaves room for strategy calls on pit road. I would not be surprised to see several strategy scenarios play out tonight with a championship on the line. Rest assured teams will probably elect 4 tires with every pit road stop but remember Truck Series teams are limited on the amount of tires they have to use. Therefore, the strategy that capitalizes the best use of new tires could be a winning strategy.

There are a few drivers that I believe will be at the front of the field tonight that could be potential dark horses. From a speed standpoint, I really like the way the #27 of Ben Rhodes has looked throughout practices. Rhodes has been strong on the 1.5 mile tracks this season and scored his first win at Las Vegas. I think Rhodes is a legitimate dark horse for tonight’s Ford EcoBoost 200. However, I would also add the likes of Kaz Grala and Noah Gragson into the conversation for drivers I expect to have a strong performance.

Gragson has been running very well in recent weeks and arguably the best truck last week at Phoenix before he was caught up in a wreck while battling Bell for the lead. Still, the #18 is one of the best trucks in terms of speed in the series and Gragson has been doing a great job in recent weeks behind the wheel. Gragson may be a stretch for the outright victory but I think he holds a lot of value in H2H situations along with Kaz Grala. Grala unloaded very strong and had a solid test at Homestead a few weeks ago. Grala and the #33 team are another group that is peaking as the season ends. Grala has posted finishes of 5th, 29th, 7th, 6th, and 5th in the last 5 races. Therefore, I believe he also holds some value in H2H situations as well.

2017 Ford EcoBoost 200 Race Predictions

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Ben Rhodes +1150 (1 unit)
Chase Briscoe +1350 (1 unit)

Two Team Parlays

Christopher Bell +145 wins Ford EcoBoost 200
Team 2 – Open
Risking 1.5 units to win: TBD

H2H Matchups

Ben Rhodes -145 over Justin Haley (3 units)
Matt Crafton -115 over Austin Cindric (2 units)

2017 Can-Am 500 Race Predictions

Posted by on Nov 12, 2017 in NASCAR Betting, Nascar Betting Blog, NASCAR Handicapping | 0 comments

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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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)

2017 Ticket Galaxy 200 Race Predictions

Posted by on Nov 11, 2017 in NASCAR Betting, Nascar Betting Blog, NASCAR Handicapping | 0 comments

2017 Ticket Galaxy 200 Race Predictions

2017 Ticket Galaxy 200 Race Predictions
NASCAR Xfinity Series Betting Preview
Saturday November 11th, 3:45PM (EST) at Phoenix International Raceway
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

Today the Xfinity Series will go racing in the Valley of the Sun when the green flag waves for the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. If you witnessed last night’s Truck Series race at Phoenix, then you saw how wild things got with a final spot in the Chase on the line before next week’s finale at Homestead. For today’s Xfinity Series race, all 4 spots are still up for grabs. Therefore, we expect another race filled with hard racing, desperation, and excitement. Take a look as we preview today’s action and provide our 2017 Ticket Galaxy 200 race predictions!

Unlike the Truck Series, the Xfinity Series will be making their 2nd stop of the year today at Phoenix. Earlier this spring, Justin Allgaier held off Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones for the victory in the DC Solar 200. Allgaier has been strong at most of the short tracks this year and he was really solid in yesterday’s practices finishing 2nd in both sessions. Allgaier has been one of the best drivers among the Chase competitors or Xfinity Series regulars over the last several weeks with 4 top 5 finishes in the last 6 races. Therefore even though Allgaier’s win over the Cup Series guys back in the spring can be considered somewhat of an upset, I think the chances are there for an encore performance today.

From a practice standpoint, both William Byron and Christopher Bell also stood out among the Cup Series drivers as potential contenders. I thought William Byron’s lap times were really impressive in the final practice. Not only was he the fastest car in terms of 10 lap averages but his overall speed was consistently a few tenths to the good compared to the rest of the field. Now I have been critical of Byron to an extent in recent weeks for under performing. However, he has posted finishes of 4th and 9th in the last two races so there is a chance this team is getting their rhythm back.

For Bell, he will be making his 7th start of the season following his breakthrough win at Kansas just 3 weeks ago. It is worth noting that Bell finished 6th at Richmond in early September in a star studded lineup. Since Richmond has many similarities to Phoenix, I expected Bell to be strong this weekend. In practice, the #18 car finished finished 3rd in single lap speed and also posted the 3rd best 10 lap average in Happy Hour. With the speed shown thus far, Bell should be one of top 5 cars this afternoon.

Another group of guys that should be among those in contention include Cup Series stars Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, and Alex Bowman. Yes, I understand Bowman is not technically a Cup Series driver yet but I am including him because he will soon take over the #88 ride full-time in 2018. Either way, all 3 drivers have shown speed in practices. Bowman has actually been very strong in terms of lap speed and race speed behind the #42 car. Let’s not forget, Bowman won at Charlotte just over a month ago in somewhat surprising fashion. More importantly, the #42 team needs to be given more credit for their strength in the Xfinity Series. This #42 team has scored 5 wins this season with Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick, and Bowman behind the wheel. Therefore, I believe Bowman has serious value entering today’s race.

Jones and Blaney are typically the favorites anytime they enter an Xfinity Series event and that will be the case again today. I am going to be pretty straight forward in my predictions surrounding Blaney and Jones. I was not very impressed with Jones in terms of practices but he has always run well at Phoenix. He started his career by earning his first victory at Phoenix in the Truck Series and has finished 6th or better in 5 of his 6 starts at Phoenix. However, I am not confident in his “winning” potential with the speed shown in practices. I thought Blaney was much stronger and has more credible history on these layouts with the #22 team. Blaney was 2nd to Allgaier earlier this year in the #22 car at Phoenix, it won at Richmond with Brad Keselowski, and finished 5th in the 2nd Richmond race with Blaney behind the wheel. Therefore with one of the fastest cars in practice and a proven track record with the #22, I think Blaney is your top driver heading into today’s race.

A few other rapid fire observations that you may use to your benefit. Both Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon looked off in terms of speed especially the #3 car. The younger Dillon was just 20th fastest in final practice and 21st best in practice 1. Matt Tift practiced well and is seeking his 7th straight top 10 finish in the Xfinity Series. His recent performance has flown completely under the radar which may give him some H2H value. Lastly for anyone wanting to back any of the JR Motorsports cars like Byron, Allgaier, or Sadler, it is extremely important to know that those guys will not have their pit crew members for today’s race. The normal pit crew members were stuck on a plane in Oklahoma and JR Motorsports are searching for replacements for today’s race which has to hurt their value considering how importance of pit road, AKA track position at Phoenix.

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2017 Ticket Galaxy 200 Race Predictions

Alex Bowman +750 (1.5 units)
Justin Allgaier +1650 (1 unit)

Two Team Parlay

Ryan Blaney +220 wins Ticket Galaxy 200
Team 2 – Open
Risking 1.25 units to win: TBD

H2H Matchups

Ryan Blaney -110 over Erik Jones (2 units)
Daniel Hemric -140 over Brennan Poole (2 units)
Matt Tift -205 over Ty Dillon (2 units)