NASCAR racing heads to the desert of Arizona for 312 laps around the one-mile oval in Avondale. Thus, let’s dive into this week’s top best bets, outright favorites and positional picks on BetMGM for the Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
Expert NASCAR Picks & Predictions | Ruoff Mortgage 500
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Martin Truex Jr. +700 to Win
The fun names to drop this week are going to be either Aric Almirola or Christopher Bell. Almirola opened up at 40-1 on BetMGM but quickly saw his number drop to 25-1. Meanwhile, Christopher Bell opened up at 33-1 but saw his outright drop to the same +2500 number. This enthusiasm seems to be based primarily on how both ran last summer at New Hampshire, an event that saw Almirola drive through the field and win while Bell finished second. Furthermore, Almirola has been the most consistent driver through three races with all finishes ending in sixth or better despite average green flag speed rankings in the teens or worse in each race. Bell’s enthusiasm may be based entirely on that previous New Hampshire race but also how well he ran at short-flat tracks during his Xfinity tenure, winning multiple races at tracks like Richmond and New Hampshire.
However, if this is truly the case, it is odd that Phoenix is not being considered in the quotient of who to bet. Yes, Almirola has been pretty good at Phoenix since the track was repaved and reconfigured, but his average finish sits at 9.7 through those seven races with zero wins and the best finish of fourth. As far as Bell is concerned, he ran well in his first full season at Joe Gibbs Racing at Phoenix, but all that resulted in were back-to-back ninth-place finishes.
The name that should be garnering attention comes at a shorter number, Martin Truex Jr. with 7-1 odds. All Truex and crew chief James Small did last season was make Phoenix the priority of their 2021 program, resulting in a victory in the spring and a David Starr caution away from winning in the fall. After a questionable start from all Toyotas to begin the season, adjustments were made for heating issues and Truex showed up with the third-fastest average green flag speed at Las Vegas. That speed should carry over to Phoenix this week and potentially translate into another victory for a team that knows that the path to a championship begins and ends with a victory at Phoenix Raceway.
Best NASCAR Pick This Week: Martin Truex Jr. to Win (+700)
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Austin Cindric +105 Over Tyler Reddick (-125)
Seeing Reddick at plus money versus Reddick was a bit of a surprise, but in the end, it should not be that shocking. People are still fondly remembering how strongly Reddick ran at the Busch Clash and then his performance a few weeks back at Auto Club Speedway. If people want to be captivated by a two-mile-long superspeedway, especially as NASCAR is at the one-mile fairly flat venue in Phoenix, let them. What happened the past two weeks at Auto Club and Las Vegas have little to no bearing on this weekend.
To begin this debate, Reddick’s own previous numbers at Phoenix do not suggest that he should be the favorite in this head-to-head. In four Cup Series starts at Phoenix, Reddick has just one lead lap finish and no result better than 19th, which have come in back-to-back championship races. At the short-flat venues in 2021, Reddick sported an average finish of 17.4 in those seven races with just one top 10 finish (Martinsville 1). When bettors think of Reddick, the track type that should come to mind are steeply-banked big ovals where he can run up against the wall and pick up speed where few drivers are willing to race the entire event.
Some may balk at the above argument, as Cindric does not have any Cup Series history at Phoenix to compare to Reddick’s. Though true, what Cindric does have is his recent history at Phoenix while driving the 22 for Roger Penske in the Xfinity Series. While driving for Penske, he failed to finish worse than eighth in any start at Phoenix, including finishes of first, first and second in his last three starts there. Furthermore, in those final three starts, he led totals of 72, 119 and 113 laps. When one takes these numbers and compares them against Reddick’s time at Phoenix while in the Xfinity Series, it is not even close. In five Phoenix starts for Chip Ganassi, Dale Jr. and Richard Childress, his best finish was third (both 2019 races) and he led just nine total laps in those five races.
The final bullet in the chamber for Cindric’s case are the results that Penske has had at Phoenix since it was repaved and realigned. Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski were continually three of the better drivers at Phoenix the past few years (average finish, average running position, top-15 percentage, laps led, etc…) and that success should continue to manifest this Sunday, especially for Cindric with his Xfinity results for Roger Penske.
Best NASCAR Pick This Week: Austin Cindric Over Tyler Reddick (-125)
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