Two race weekend, chalky, flat-track, west coast.
Easy descriptor for what's come. Xfinity at 4:30 EDT on Saturday and Cup on Sunday afternoon at 3:30.
We covered the scouting of flat tracks (and added Iowa/Nashville/Gateway) to the thought process midweek.
The best pure drivers here for the last couple cycles are the Toyotas of Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex.
The fastest cars in the new 670hp Gen7 format are still the Hendrick Chevys.
So, a winner outside of Any Hendrick and Any Toyota is doubtful. Maybe throw a dart at Reddick & Chastain to ensure full Chevy coverage. They're cheap.
Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and, obvs, Kevin Harvick all project well here. But, do you expect a Ford to win? And, do we expect enough long runs in any Gen7 race right now to exist to allow any of those top Fords to outrun the best of the other two brands?
We went over the over/under bet for cautions last week before the end of the second race stage. So, expecting a clean race is still quite doubtful.
Right now, Ford will need a fuel mileage race, a long run strategy race, a road course or a plate track to win. The next two weeks qualify, with the super-speedway mods to Atlanta and a trip to Texas for the first road course of the year. Patience.
Cautions are occurring at a huge rate, as these new cars are delivering wrecks and flats well in excess of the ratios of the last 3-4 years.
We've given subscribers some initial instruction, but are mostly avoiding Win bets this week before in-play wagering opens. We see the best value with essentially chalk, Truex the best Win buy in Toyota and Elliott the best Win buy in Chevy. Larson probably a safe Top 3, just find the best price.
The longshots who have a shot are Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric. Both absolutely hammered Phoenix and analog tracks to Phoenix in the Xfinity Series, with Bell one of the best at all flat tracks in Cup over the last year. Cindric killed here in Gen7 testing and won two of the last three Xfinity races here.
There's value downticket in matchups and Top5/10 with Aric Almirola. We'll be watching in-play on Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain, whose pre-race Win price was as cheap as +6000.
In Xfinity, we don't have a ton of strong feelings or data points with which we're in love. Looking at a few matchups.
Three cars are priced evenly as big favorites, Ty Gibbs, Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson.
Allgaier loves this track type, but hasn't been better than 5th in his last four Xfinity races at Phoenix. Led a bunch of laps, but couldn't finish well in the last three. I feel he's sliding back a little long term, even compared to his JRM/Chevy teammates. Am not short him yet as policy, but need to see him run stronger soon to get back to being a horse we like. Inconsistent.
Gibbs was a second place finisher in the spring Phoenix Xfinity race last spring, and looked pretty effortless in HIS SECOND XFINITY START. He also won three times in the fairly weak ARCA West series, but he's not out of place here at all.
Gragson? Always fast, but inconsistent like Allgaier here. A 12th, a wreck, a second and a 7th in his last four attempts. Remember, being in the Top 10 in an Xfinity race in Top 5 equipment is not really a compliment. That applies sometimes to Gragson & Allgaier.
Josh Berry opened at +600, and is a little too pricey. Same equipment as Allgaier & Gragson, low experience at Phoenix. Will run ARCA here on Friday night for seat time. He, of course, did win last year as an Xfinity rookie in a part-time car at Martinsville. Martinsville IS a flat track like Phoenix......but much shorter like Bristol. More of a rhythm drive than this. Berry was an early wreck here in the 2021 Xfinity Spring race.
After that, it's a real soup of the next 7-8 cars.
Allmendinger has been inconsistent so far this year in-race, and is always angry at his equipment. Fun listen on the scanner. Hard to trust as an expensive bet right now. Pretty ordinary here in his long career in Cup.
Hemric won his first Xfinity race here last fall, prior, had been a wreck machine in prior Phoenix races.
Trevor Bayne is back in the Gibbs All-Star Toyota after jamming us at California. Again, dude has been mostly running coffee shops the last few years. In this great equipment, grabbed a third at Cal. +1000 probably way too expensive to be a win bet. He's trophy hunting, not running for points, so his ability to take chances makes him higher variance on pit/fuel strategy if he's competitive. May nibble at shorting him again via matchups with the Top 5 cars.
Beyond that, short Cassill, long Nemechek. Watch the latter for an in-race bet if he stays competitive. Was competent here in his Cup tries, three Top 10s here in Xfinity, and very strong at the analog Iowa & Gateway tracks. Sheldon Creed has won here the last two Trucks races, but has been ordinary so far this year since moving up to Xfinity. Another to watch in-play as he opens pre-race in the +3300 area.