Race: CAN-AM 500
Date: Sunday November 13, 2016
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Time: 2:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
And here we are, folks! We have made it to the last race before the championship race at Homestead! Carl Edwards was the latest to punch his ticket to Miami as the race at Texas was shortened by rain. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. It’s bittersweet for Truex and Elliott, who were both eliminated from the Chase in earlier rounds but have shown they still have a lot going for their teams. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman completed the top ten at Texas. The race may have been different than a lot of teams anticipated as it was rain delayed by several hours causing it to be a night race instead of the typical day race. This most certainly had an impact on the cars and the setups that had previously been arranged. Regardless, Logano led the majority of the race. Edwards may have just punched his ticket because of his pit crew, who really got him out fast on the last stop.
The race at Phoenix will be an interesting one this weekend. The points got a bit wonky after Texas, and the last two spots for the Championship are to be determined on Sunday. With that in mind, these drivers have a lot to think about. Are they willing to do whatever it takes to get the ultimate guarantee with a win? That drive for a win may create a huge amount of risk. If the risk is too big, will they just decide to drive safely and stay out of trouble? The points are very important with the top 5 drivers being so close together and being separated literally by a better finish at Texas. As it stands right now, Johnson and Edwards are one and two with their wins automatically advancing them to Homestead Final Four. Logano is third and tied with Kyle Busch, but would outrank him based on finishing position. Kenseth and Hamlin stand only one and two points behind Logano. Those guys are the real contenders.
Phoenix is going to put the pressure on everyone. This place is electrifying when it comes to racing because of being the last opportunity to get in on the Championship. This place is a 1.022 mile asphalt oval. It has a somewhat unique configuration. The banking is variable with 10-11 degrees through turns one and turn and also through the dogleg. Turn 3 has 8 degrees of banking, and turn 4 has 8-9 degree banking. The backstretch varies between 8-10 degrees, and the frontstretch is pretty mild at only 3 degrees. The biggest issue that the drivers will face at this place will be tires, tires, and tires. With the track configuration the way that it is, drivers tend to push hard on the tires, leading to severe wear and serious tire issues. The walls tend to be a nice shade of black by the time this race ends. Pancakes are plentiful and not the good kind. Other than tires, pit road is always an issue here as well. It’s a pretty tight pit road compared to many, and drivers can really make or break their race with their teams help or hindrance here on pit road.
So, who’s going to win? I dare say that this week’s pick is honestly pretty simple. Kevin Harvick is looking for his ninth win here. Not only does he have an amazing record at this track, but he needs to win. Winning is Harvick’s only real shot at the championship. He’s been known to really come through in the face of adversity and this weekend should be the same. If there’s any place he can win and needs to win, Phoenix is it. He will have some competition from teammates, but this is really his race to lose. Let’s take a look at your potential winners this weekend:
My Pick to Win: Kevin Harvick. Bet YOUR pick using your credit card (having a bet on the race makes it WAY more fun!) and get a generous 50% bonus added to your account when you sign up and make your NASCAR bets at Bovada Sportsbook
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Kyle Larson
Larson has shown great potential on these shorter flat tracks. He’s improved tremendously and is a solid top 10 driver on this configuration. I think that he will really be a strong contender throughout much of the race. Chase Elliott finished 8th here in the Spring. He’s done nothing but really improve throughout the season, with the few exceptions of bad luck. Along with Larson, he’s also got a slew of top 10 finishes on this type of track. Overall, though, they will all be chasing Harvick for the win that he has to get.
Here are your current top 8 after last week's race:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Joey Logano
3. Kyle Busch
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Carl Edwards
8. Kurt Busch
Keep in mind that the number 2 spot truly belongs to Carl Edwards. That leaves Logano, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin as four drivers really fighting for those last two spots. Now, there are a lot of ways that this could play out. If Edwards or Johnson win at Phoenix, this leaves two spots open based solely on points. If someone other than those two win, there’s one spot open for someone based solely on points. That’s why drivers have to decide how they’re going to race this one. Harvick and Kurt Busch really only have the option of winning based on how far behind they are in points. They can’t realistically make up that deficit in this race. We know we’ll see a lot of fight out of them. On the flip side, there are non-Chase drivers *cough cough Brad Keselowski* who really want another win still this year. Those drivers could potentially put their Chase-contending teammates in some bad situations. Sunday’s race will surely be one to watch. Stay tuned for an awesome afternoon of racing at Phoenix International Raceway! Another great place to bet on auto racing and that offers the widest array of wagering options is 5Dimes. They have the best priced odds on the web!
Can-Am 500 Betting Odds to Win the Race
Kevin Harvick 3/2
Kyle Busch 6/1
Denny Hamlin 8/1
Joey Logano 8/1
Jimmie Johnson 9/1
Matt Kenseth 9/1
Carl Edwards 10/1
Brad Keselowski 12/1
Martin Truex Jr. 12/1
Chase Elliott 18/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 20/1
Kyle Larson 25/1
Alex Bowman 40/1
Kasey Kahne 40/1
Kurt Busch 40/1
Austin Dillon 80/1
Jamie McMurray 80/1
Ryan Newman 80/1
Tony Stewart 100/1
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