500 Predictions to Win – Favorite and Longshot Picks

Race: CAMPINGWORLD.COM 500 Predictions to Win the Race
Date: Sunday March 15, 2015
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Time: 3:30 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

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What a weekend for some of the major players, both good and bad. It’s a good thing that Stewart-Haas has Kevin Harvick. He took the win on Sunday after finishing runner up for the last 2 weeks. He’s showing his continued strength into the 2015 season. Teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart are not having the same results, though. Patrick finished a disappointing 27th, with boss-man Stewart ending up 33rd, 5 laps down. Team Hendrick fared about as well with Jr. finishing the best in 4th place. Gordon and Kahne were 16th and 17th, respectively, while Jimmie Johnson suffered several tire issues, finishing his day in the 41st spot after a few brushes with the wall.

This weekend, we are headed to the blue walls of Phoenix. This particular track is not really an intermediate track but not really a short track. It’s a fun track regardless. This is a 1-mile D-shaped asphalt tri-oval. The banking isn’t nearly as intense as Vegas with 10-12 degrees through turns 1, 2, and the backstretch. Turns 3 and 4 are a mild 8-9 degrees, and the frontstretch is minimal coming in at 3 degrees. The beauty behind this type of track is that because it’s a little bit bigger than a short track, the drivers can get up some good speed while still having to break into the turns.

A lot of the strategy behind this track deals with taking care of equipment. Because of the way this track drives, the teams have to be cautious of brakes and tires especially. Drivers have to remain cautious of lap traffic as well. This is a track where it is easy to get lapped, leaving a lot of cars vying for the lucky dog spot. No matter where drivers are on the track, there’s always a competition going on. Phoenix is a very fan-friendly type of race.

Fans will enjoy watching as these guys do their best to outrun each other and stay off the walls. There is one driver who is the class of the field when it comes to repaved Phoenix. Last week’s winner Kevin Harvick is most definitely the man to beat here. He has 4 wins in 6 races. There really isn’t anyone quite as good at this track or anyone quite as good so far this season. As for other potential contenders, the Penske guys are high on my list as well. Both Keselowski and Logano thrive on these difficult styled tracks. Let’s take a look at all of the contenders heading into Phoenix:

My Favorite Prediction to Win: Kevin Harvick
Middle of the Road Pick: Kasey Kahne
Longshot Pick: JJ Yeley

This is Yeley’s home track. He always runs well here, and the other drivers just don’t have the numbers to take the dark horse spot this week. Despite his challenges at Las Vegas, Kahne seems to like Phoenix and runs relatively strong here. It’s not uncommon to see him upfront for the majority of the race at Phoenix. Overall, Kevin Harvick is going to be the one they are all chasing, though. With last week’s finishes, the points are still a bit crazy. I think we will see some more equalization after this weekend’s challenge at Phoenix.

Here are your current top 12 after last week’s race:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Joey Logano
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. AJ Allmendinger
6. Kasey Kahne
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Casey Mears
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Greg Biffle
12. Ryan Newman

With so many issues for some of the big teams this early in the season, it makes you wonder what’s going on. Jeff Gordon has seen the wall of every track we’ve been to this year. Maybe Phoenix will calm things down for some of the drivers. Tony Stewart really needs to step up his game. I’m having a hard time seeing the competitive nature back in him since his big accident. Stay tuned for an awesome race at Phoenix to see if some of these drivers can get their grooves back! Where are you betting the race this week? Find a huge array of NASCAR betting options and get a 50% bonus at Bovada Sportsbook!