The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has gotten off to an odd start. Through four races, we’ve seen two first-time winners and one second-time winner. The first true “regular” to win, Kyle Larson, hadn’t been to victory lane since 2019. The streak of weird winners has to end eventually, and I suspect that we’ll see a true regular in victory lane on Sunday.
That said, you’ll find much more betting value away from the race winner’s market.
Isaiah’s Best Bets: Instacart 500 at Phoenix
#1. Top 5: Kyle Busch (+115 at DK Sportsbook)
Busch has been the best driver at Phoenix Raceway since the track was reconfigured. He has an average driver rating of 123.5 through the five events, including two wins and four top 5s. Busch’s one finish outside of the top 5 came in last year’s season finale, and we can blame his poor performance on his elimination from the playoffs. He had no incentive to challenge those still in the championship hunt.
Busch’s success at Phoenix predates the reconfiguration, too. Since 2015, he has finished in the top 5 a whopping nine times — and in just 11 starts!
The concern with Busch is that his struggles from last season have carried over into this year. He hasn’t yet led a lap, and he has posted just a single top 5 result. That said, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates’ success suggests that it’s not an equipment issue, so Busch just needs the cards to fall the right way to return to his winning ways.
I love this bet because it has an 80% hit rate at post-reconfiguration Phoenix, yet the implied odds sit at just 50%.
#2. Top Chevrolet Car: Chase Elliott (+150 at DK Sportsbook)
Elliott won last year’s season finale at Phoenix, and he did so in dominant fashion. He led 49% of the laps and posted the event’s highest driver rating (136.5). He also had the second-highest driver rating in the spring race (127.2).
Elliott hadn’t been the best at Phoenix before last season, but his recent success points to value on this line.
To cash this bet, Elliott will have to hold off his Chevrolet teammates. While drivers like Kyle Larson and William Byron have exceeded expectations so far, as they’ve both scored wins, I suspect that Elliott will get his shot sooner rather than later. He has routinely started races strong this season, but he tends to fall off as the track changes and the race progresses. That shouldn’t be a problem this weekend, as this race won’t undergo a day-to-night transition.
The other upshot with Elliott is that his Chevrolet teammates don’t have impressive resumes here. Larson and Byron are yet to win at this track, and Elliott easily topped them in last year’s events.
#3. Head to Head: Christopher Bell (+105 at FOX Bet) vs. Alex Bowman
I’ll wrap up with one quick head-to-head play that this year’s trends suggest has some value. Bell has looked phenomenal now that he’s back at Joe Gibbs Racing, and he earned his first win just a few races ago at the Daytona Road Course.
Bell has one win and two top 10s to his name this year. Bowman also has a pair of top 10s, but he is yet to finish better than ninth. He has looked like the worst of the four Hendrick Motorsports cars thus far. Bell has even topped him in three of four events.
Bell has a higher average finish (20.5) at post-reconfiguration Phoenix than Bowman (23.6). He underperformed here with Leavine Family Racing last season, but he now has the equipment advantage over Bowman — yet this line sits in the plus money because Bowman is favored. Odd.
Top Bets to Win: Instacart 500 at Phoenix
Value Bet #1: Joey Logano (+800 at DK Sportsbook)
I don’t love the favorites this weekend, so I’ll point out two drivers I think the books have undervalued. Joey Logano hasn’t had a great start to the year, but he has led laps in every event, and it’s only a matter of time before Sliced Bread returns to victory lane.
He looked great at Phoenix last season, too. He won the spring race and finished third in the fall, leading 185 laps across the two events. Logano finished with the second-highest average driver rating across the two events (126.5), trailing only Chase Elliott (131.9), yet the sportsbooks have only given him the sixth-best odds to win Sunday’s race.
Logano’s two prior wins at Phoenix tie him with Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin for the third-most wins here. Only Kevin Harvick (9) and Kyle Busch (3) are ahead of them. And if we limit our sample to races held post-reconfiguration, Logano is one of just four drivers to have won here.
Value Bet #2: Kyle Busch (+800 at FOX Bet)
I already mentioned Busch above, but there is also value in taking him to win Sunday’s event. Sure, he has only one win through the last two seasons. That’s tough, but Busch is the only driver to have won twice at post-reconfiguration Phoenix. The fact that he has worse odds than Kevin Harvick, who hasn’t won on the new layout, is somewhat insulting.
While there is value in taking Kyle Busch to win, I would much rather take him to finish inside the top 5, as that line is also in the plus money.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our Sports Betting 101 Section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced sports betting strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.