Instacart 500 Preview and Best Bet

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Instacart 500 Preview and Best Bet
A general view of Phoenix Raceway. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images/AFP

NASCAR’s Cup Series resumes on Sunday in Phoenix’s Instacart 500. Here’s our complete preview with a betting pick for the race on the weekend. Be prepared to bet on this event by knowing all you need to know about this race and about which drivers are likeliest to find success.

NASCAR Cup Series: Instacart 500

Sunday, March 14, 2021 – 3:30 P.M. ET at Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR’s Cup Series resumes this coming Sunday afternoon. As of press time, while some of them have, there are still some top sportsbooks that have not posted their odds for this event. But we want to be prepared anyway. So let’s get straight to the analysis.

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Race Info 

The Instacart 500 is so-called because, in completing 312 laps, drivers will have accumulated slightly over 500 kilometers — 513 to be exact. This event consists of three stages. Stage 1 requires 75 laps. For Stage 2, drivers will complete 115 laps. The last Stage requires 122 laps.

As in previous weeks, an entry list for this upcoming event has already been posted. 38 drivers will compete, barring any unforeseen changes. Regarding the starting lineup, there is no practice or qualifying for this event.

The starting lineup has just been released. To determine to what extent you should be concerned about it, we need to look at the track.

Track Info 

Previously known as the Phoenix International Raceway, the Phoenix Raceway is a one-mile-long track. It is a tri-oval with a racing surface made of asphalt. Compared to previous weeks’ tracks and other NASCAR tracks in general, the banking at Phoenix is low. Turns one and two each feature eight degrees of banking. Turns three and four have 11 degrees of banking. The backstretch is banked at three degrees.

There is also an element of this track called the dogleg, which the track designers had to build in order to accommodate the coexistence of a road course. This so-called dogleg introduces an unusual shape to the track, which is why it’s nicknamed “the desert oddball.” 

Historically, this track has a reputation for meriting complaints from drivers regarding the difficulty of passing other drivers. Even though progressive banking was introduced, drivers were still having comparative difficulty in driving side by side.

Smaller, one-mile tracks were generally disappointing NASCAR observers. So NASCAR changed the racing package for Cup Series events run on a one-mile track. Last year, Phoenix Raceway was the guinea pig for this new, lower downforce racing package.

Drivers were ecstatic in their response to this new racing package because they were passing more drivers than they ever could have before at this track. With the new racing package, drivers could follow and otherwise run next to other drivers more closely than before.

While Phoenix Raceway is still not the easiest track to pass people in, NASCAR has found a way to improve this part of the racing experience. So the starting position is not a make-or-break factor for your online sports betting.

Blaney and Hamlin
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, leads Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota. Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images/AFP

Drivers To Avoid 

With its unique configuration, its overall oddity, and its short length, the Phoenix Raceway, has historically been tougher for some drivers to navigate successfully.

One driver to avoid investing in at this track is Martin Truex Jr. He can be hit-or-miss at this track, but his good performances are hardly good enough, and they are also rare. In his two most recent performances, last year at the track, he failed to finish better than 10th. His overall average finishing position in Phoenix is 15.87.

Similar to Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney has flopped at this track about as often as he found moderate success. He has two career top-five finishes in Phoenix, but his average finishing position at this track is 15.70.

Although Denny Hamlin‘s overall driving history is better at Phoenix Raceway than that of Truex Jr. and Blaney, he is also somebody who is rather hit-or-miss on this track. There are more consistent options for our NASCAR betting picks.

Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

Top Two Guys 

Given the attractive payout offered by sports betting sites, it makes sense to bet on multiple drivers to win. Some bettors will split a unit on multiple drivers. Some will invest a unit in each particular one. It’s a matter of personal preference.

At this track, two drivers look more promising than the rest of the field: Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. One thing I like about each driver in Phoenix is their high floor. Both drivers are consistently competitive at this track. So, you can rely on them to be in the thick of the action in the race’s later stages.

Harvick and Busch also consistently achieved success at Phoenix. Of all active drivers, Harvick easily has the most wins in Phoenix — he has nine while the next-most successful driver has three. Busch is the driver with three wins at this track.

Before last year’s latest rendition on this track, Busch had accrued five consecutive top-three finishes in Phoenix. In good racing form — he’s coming off a third-place finish in Las Vegas — he promises to resume his success in Phoenix. Harvick, who has demonstrated positive form since the season began, is coming off a rare bad effort and is primed to bounce back.

For reasons of history, invest in Harvick and Busch with your best bets.

Best Bets:

Busch to Win(+800)
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*The picks reflect the line at the moment the writer made the play. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.