It all comes down to this. One race. One to rule them all. Okay, this isn’t Lord of the Rings, but the NASCAR schedule, as well as the NASCAR cup standings, comes down to this. Here, we’ll break down the track specifics, the race as a whole, and the Cup Series Championship odds.
Phoenix International Raceway is a mile-long track with three-degree banking on straightaways and the start-finish line. From the dog leg into the first turn are 10-degree banking and eight to nine degrees into the second turn. It’s back to three in the backstretch and 10-11 around turns three and four.
NASCAR Cup Series
Date & Time:
Current Playoff Standings
Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, and Chase Elliott are the four drivers that get the chance to race for the championship Sunday.
This comes on the back of one of the most preposterous moves ever seen in NASCAR. Needing to make up spots on the last lap, Chastain essentially slingshotted himself by putting his car against the wall and flooring it around the last turn rather than slowing down and cutting into the turn.
Each driver comes in tied at 5,000 points. Elliott has the lowest Cup Series Championship odds at +180. Bell sits at +275, Logano at +300, and Chastain at +350.
Playoff Four Race Odds
Elliott comes in as not only the favorite among the Cup Series Championship odds but the favorite to win the race also at +200. He finished 11th at Phoenix in March but was running toward the front all day. He was third at the end of the first stage, second at the end of two stages, and even led 50 laps on the day. It was the same situation in the November race last season, except he led 94 laps and finished fifth. That made a second-straight fifth-place finish at Phoenix at the time coming off a 2020 win.
Bell comes in hot, as two of his three wins on the season have come in the last four weeks. Against the Nascar odds, Bell had to scratch and claw his way here and he did. It seems the oddsmakers are buying in on Bell, as he has the second-lowest odds of the four drivers to win the race outright at +300. He qualified fourth at Phoenix earlier this season but finished 26th. In both 2021 races at Phoenix, Bell finished ninth. If he can keep up his winning ways, Bell could end up as the champion.
Logano’s odds to win the race outright are at +400. He’s had quite a bit of success in Phoenix in the past. He finished eighth earlier this season and 11th in this race last season. That was coming off three-straight top-three finishes for Logano that included a win. He has two career wins at Phoenix and is the leader among laps led over the last seven races there.
As for Chastain, some say he shouldn’t even be in this position. Those people don’t know fun. Chastain brings fun, something NASCAR has been searching for. He’ll do anything to win. That’s not even counting his attempt at Indy Road Course to blaze through turn one and take the access road back on. Coming into this season, he had never finished better than 14th at Phoenix. He finished second back in March this season. He’s the long shot of the group, but will be the most fun driver to support at +450 outright odds.
Best of the Rest
Believe it or not, there’s a whole field of drivers racing this weekend, not just the four we’ve highlighted to this point. Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin each enter at +1600. Larson won the November race at Phoenix last season. He was shaping up for another solid finish earlier this season but an engine failure caused him to finish 34th after being fifth at the end of the second stage. He’s finished in the top three in four of his 16 starts at Phoenix and in the top five in half.
Hamlin has two wins at Phoenix in his career, the latest of which came in 2019. In 34 starts Hamlin has finished in the top five 16 times if it wasn’t for Chastain’s move at the end of the race at Martinsville, it would be Hamlin racing for a championship.
Blaney was another driver that was cut from the playoff field following the Martinsville race. He comes in at +2000. He’s finished outside of the top 10 just once in his last seven races at Phoenix. In four of the seven, he’s finished in the top five. He led 143 laps back in March. It would be rather unfortunate for Blaney to pick up his first win of the season in the final race, one race after getting officially eliminated.
Where’s the Value?
There’s almost no value in taking any of the four playoff drivers to win the race outright considering the separation of +450 for Chastain to the next-lowest driver on the odds board at +1600.
Inversely, that makes almost every driver that’s not the four racing for the championship value picks. Larson at +1600 is an incredible value. He can win anywhere. We’ve also seen him win here. Blaney at +2000 is also hard to pass up, despite the fact he hasn’t won a Cup Series race this season. Blaney to finish in the top 10 at -190 is a good value.
Kevin Harvick has great value as well. He hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 since March, 2013. After that one instance of him finishing 13th five of his next six starts at Phoenix. In the lone exception during that stretch that he didn’t win, he placed second. He’s the leader in laps led among active drivers with 1,663.
Harvick’s nine career wins at Phoenix are also the best among active drivers. You would have to combine the next three drivers below him in that statistic just to tie him. +2500 is too good to pass up. He’s also -170 to finish in the top 10.
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