On Sunday, November 11th, NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series will be live from Phoenix for the Can-Am 500. This is the final race in NASCAR’s third round of the playoffs and it will determine which drivers advance to the championship race on Nov. 18th in Homestead-Miami. Currently, there are 3 spots available for the championship race and 7 drivers competing for those spots. Additionally, there is a lot of controversy heading into this race. Tighten up your seatbelts and get ready for a shootout in Phoenix.
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ISM Racetrack Profile
The Can-Am 500 is held at the ISM Raceway in Avondale, AZ, just outside of Phoenix. The ISM Raceway is a tri-oval track with a distance of 1 mile per lap. This weekend’s race has the following breakdown:
- 500 total laps
- 312 total miles
- Stage 1: First 75 laps
- Stage 2: Second 75 laps
- Final Stage: Remaining 162 laps
The Can-Am 500 will be televised live on NBC and begin at 2:30 PM ET.
Controversy Heading into Phoenix
The big news coming out of NASCAR this week was the penalty that Kevin Harvick received for a post-race inspection of the #4 car after his dominating win in Texas last Sunday. NASCAR found an infraction with his spoiler and handed out a penalty that included docking Harvick 40 driver points and taking away his automatic qualification into the championship race due to winning in Texas. With the punishment, Harvick fell to 4th in the playoff standings just 3 points above the cutoff line.
What to Watch for in Phoenix:
In addition to an angry Kevin Harvick, the following storylines are worth watching out for this Sunday:
- Will someone retaliate and wreck Logano?
- Which playoff drivers will advance?
- Can Harvick overcome the penalty?
- Will a non-playoff driver upset the contenders?
Current Playoff Standings Before the Can-Am 500
The following standings are listed by drivers’ points. Joey Logano has already advanced to the championship race due to his win in Martinsville two races ago.
- Kyle Busch (4128 pts)
- Martin Truex Jr. (4125 pts)
- Joey Logano (4119 pts)
- Kevin Harvick (4103 pts)
Cutoff Line for Championship Round
- Kurt Busch (4100 pts)
- Chase Elliott (4086 pts)
- Aric Almirola (4068 pts)
- Clint Bowyer (4052 pts)
Can-Am 500 Betting Odds
The following NASCAR Betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Kevin Harvick (+175)
- Kyle Busch (+400)
- Martin Truex Jr (+700)
- Chase Elliott (+700)
- Brad Keselowski (+1000)
- Kyle Larson (+1000)
- Denny Hamlin (+1200)
- Clint Bowyer (+1200)
- 10 Aric Almirola (+2000)
- Erik Jones (+2000)
- Joey Logano (+2000)
- Kurt Busch (+2000)
- Ryan Blaney (+2200)
- Daniel Suarez (+5000)
- Jimmie Johnson (+5000)
- Alex Bowman (+5000)
- Austin Dillon (+10000)
- Matt Kenseth (+10000)
- Ryan Newman (+15000)
- Jamie McMurray (+20000)
- Paul Menard (+20000)
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr (+25000)
- Ty Dillon (+50000)
- William Byron (+50000)
- Chris Buescher (+50000)
- AJ Allmendinger (+50000)
- Regan Smith (+50000)
- Ross Chastain (+100000)
- JJ Yeley (+100000)
- Matt DiBenedetto (+100000)
- Michael McDowell (+100000)
- David Ragan (+100000)
- Bubba Wallace (+100000)
- Cody Ware (+100000)
- Timmy Hill (+100000)
- Cole Whitt (+100000)
The Betting Favorites at Phoenix
The following drivers are the odds on favorites to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix:
Kevin Harvick (+175)
It’s hard to imagine a more determined driver this weekend than Harvick. After getting his automatic berth into the championship race revoked, Harvick is going to be on a mission to win this weekend. And, the bad news for all other drivers, Harvick has owned this race over his career.
In 31 starts at ISM raceway, Harvick has 9 wins, 15 Top 5’s, and 20 Top 10’s. Kevin also has an average finish of 9.5 and has led 1,522 laps at this track. Harvick won the 2018 spring race at this track and he’s easily the favorite to win again on Sunday.
Kyle Busch (+400)
If there’s any driver who can compete with Harvick this weekend, it’s the driver that has competed with him for the top spot all season long – Kyle Busch. Coming into Phoenix, Busch leads in the playoff points standings and can clinch a spot in the championship round if he wins, earns 31 points and a new winner, or 28 points and a repeat winner.
At ISM, Busch has 26 starts with 1 win, 8 Top 5’s, 18 Top 10’s, an average finish of 11.8, 3 poles, and 827 laps led. Kyle has had 6 Top 7 finishes in a row and a runner-up finish in the spring race this year.
I expect Kyle to challenge for the checkered flag this Sunday, but can he pull of the victory?
Martin Truex Jr (+700)
Of NASCAR’s Big 3, Martin Truex Jr. has had the least success at this track. In 25 starts, Truex has 0 wins, 3 Top 5’s, 9 Top 10’s, an average finish of 16.5 and 3 DNFs. However, Truex did finish 3rd in this race last year and he also finished 5th in the spring race at this track. Those are the two best finishes of his career at ISM Raceway.
For Truex to clinch a spot in the champion race, and compete for a 2nd straight title, he will need at least 34 points and a new winner, a repeat winner or a non-playoff winner and at least 31 points, or a win at Phoenix.
With zero wins in his career at this track, I would expect Martin to move on to the next round by finishing in the Top 5 and someone winning that will benefit him.
Chase Elliott (+700)
Currently, Elliott sits 6th in the playoff standings, roughly 17 points below the cutoff line. There’s a limited amount of options for Elliott to advance to the championship round. He will either need to win the race outright, which is not out of the realm, or he will need a high finish and a lot of help from other drivers.
Fortunately for Chase, he has had some success at this track in his young career. Elliott has 4 career starts with 2 Top 5’s, 4 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 6.8 which is the best among active drivers. In this race last year, Chase finished runner up. In the 2018 spring race here, Elliott finished 3rd.
Since the playoffs started, Elliott has 6 Top 7 finishes and 2 wins. Last weekend he finished 6th at Texas. This weekend, I expect Elliott to crack the Top 5 and be a threat to claim the checkered flag.
Brad Keselowski (+1000)
Of the non-playoff drivers, Brad Keselowski is the top odds on favorite to win this race. However, I feel that the oddsmakers have missed the boat on this one. Brad hasn’t fared well at this track in his career. He has more DNFs than wins at 1 to 0. Furthermore, he has an average finish of 14.2, 5 Top 5’s, and 8 Top 10’s in 18 career starts.
Keselowski has one Top 5 finish in the last 5 races at this track. In the other 4, he finished 14th or worse. In the race last year, Brad finished 16th. In the 2018 spring race, he finished 15th.
For a driver who can’t even get into the Top 10 at least half the time at this track, it boggles the mind that oddsmakers would think he can win the race by placing him 5th in the betting odds. With that said, I would stay away from Keselowski this weekend. There are a few other drivers more desperate and hungrier for a win than Brad.
The Best Can-Am Betting Value
The following drivers offer the best betting value this weekend as not only are their odds very appealing, but they also have had a solid career at this racetrack:
Kurt Busch (+2000)
Currently, Kurt Busch sits 5th in the playoff standings just 3 points behind the cutoff line and Kevin Harvick. Kurt can clinch a spot in the championship race if he wins at Phoenix or finishes with a high result and gets help from other drivers. For example, nobody below Busch in the standings can win and Kurt would need one of the drivers ahead of him to crash out or finish near the back of the pack.
Kurt has had some success at ISM Raceway over his career. In 31 starts, Busch has 1 win, 7 Top 5’s, 18 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 13.6. Only one time has Kurt not finished a race at Phoenix. Kurt had a 10th place showing in the spring race at this track. However, he did finish 21st here last year.
I expect Kurt to finish in the Top 10 this weekend, but I’m not sure he will be able to outrace NASCAR’s Big 3 and Chase Elliott on Sunday. With that said, his past success here and these betting odds provide value for those who believe Kurt can win.
Jimmie Johnson (+5000)
Another week, and we’re at another track where Johnson has had success at. Other than Harvick, Johnson has the most wins at ISM Raceway with 4. In 30 career starts, Johnson has 4 wins, 15 Top 5’s, 20 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 10.1. JJ has a 66% rate of finishing in the Top 10 at this track and 50% rate of finishing in the Top 5. It’s been a while since JJ has won a race at ISM, but he’s fighting for his first victory of the season and this is his last best chance. Look for an aggressive Johnson this weekend with nothing to lose.
The Best Longshot Bet to Win in Phoenix
Ryan Newman at a whopping +15000 is the best longshot to win at Phoenix on Sunday. Newman has 32 career starts at ISM and has 2 wins, 10 Top 5’s, 12 Top 10’s, an average finish of 17th and 4 poles. Newman last won at this track in the 2017 spring race. Earlier this year, he finished 11th in the Phoenix spring race. With these odds, and the previous success at this track, Newman is definitely worth taking a flier on provided that he still lines up on Sunday.
Can-Am 500 Prop Bet: Driver Matchups
These NASCAR Can-Am 500 prop bets require you to choose which driver will finish the race in the higher position. The following matchups and odds are courtesy of 5Dimes:
Jimmie Johnson (-115) vs Alex Bowman (-115)
I’ve already laid out JJ’s success at this track in the betting value section above. For Bowman, he doesn’t even come close to the same success as Johnson. In 6 starts at ISM Raceway, Bowman has 0 wins, 0 Top 5’s, 1 Top 10, and an average finish of 26.7. He also has 1 DNF. Bowman did finish 13th here in the spring and 6th last year in this race. However, I don’t see him cracking the Top 15 this weekend and I do see Johnson possibly crashing the Top 10 party. Go with JJ in this matchup.
Ryan Newman (-115) vs Jamie McMurray (-115)
I’ve detailed Newman’s success at this track in the longshot section above. For McMurray, he has a lot of experience at this track, but not much success at all. In 30 starts, Jamie has 0 wins, 2 Top 5’s, 5 Top 10’s, an average finish of 19 and 4 DNFs. Newman has 2 wins, 5-times as many Top 5’s, and over 2-times as many Top 10’s. Newman won here 3 races ago and I expect him outduel McMurray this weekend. For a driver with two career wins at this track, and matched up with a driver that has had no real success, Newman’s -115 line is fantastic.
Clint Bowyer (-115) vs Denny Hamlin (-115)
Normally, I don’t like to pick a non-playoff driver over a driver that’s still competing to advance to the next round. But, this is a matchup where one driver is just clearly better at ISM Raceway than the other. In 26 career starts, Hamlin has 1 win, 11 Top 5’s, 15 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 11.5. Bowyer also has the same number of starts at ISM Raceway, but not the same amount of success as Hamlin. Clint has 0 wins, 2 Top 5’s, 7 Top 10’s, an average finish of 18.4 and 3 DNFs.
Prior to a 6th place finish in the 2018 spring Phoenix race, Bowyer hadn’t cracked the Top 10 since the spring race of 2013. That was roughly 11 ISM races ago. During that span, Hamlin has had 7 Top 10’s and 4 Top 5’s. Denny also finished 4th in the race this spring. I like Hamlin in this matchup.
The Can-Am 500 Checkered Flag: Who Wins?
I expect NASCAR’s Big 3, Elliott and Hamlin to finish in the Top 5 this weekend. I also see Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and possibly Johnson or Newman. In regards to the winner, I find it hard to go against an angry Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott have compelling arguments for winning the race on Sunday, but Harvick has owned this track and is on a mission. If you thought Kevin was determined before, wait until you see the beast that NASCAR unleashed with this penalty.
Who Will Be Eliminated from the Playoffs After Phoenix?
Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer need to win this race to advance to the next round. Unfortunately for them, I don’t see that happening. Both will be eliminated this weekend. Joining Bowyer and Almirola will be Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch. I believe that Kevin Harvick will win the race, which means that there will only be 2 spots left for: both Busch brothers, Elliott and Truex to battle it out for. Due to their point leads and their overall success this year, I believe that Kyle Busch and Martin Truex will do enough to advance this weekend.
My Top 5 Drivers:
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Chase Elliott
Can-Am 500 Betting Recap
Winner: Kevin Harvick (+175)
Betting Value: Kurt Busch (+2000) and Jimmie Johnson (+5000)
Longshot: Ryan Newman (+15000)
- Jimmie Johnson (-115) over Bowman
- Ryan Newman (-115) over McMurray
- Denny Hamlin (-115) over Bowyer
Fun Facts for ISM Raceway
The following fun facts are compiled from numerous NASCAR resources:
- The first NASCAR race as ISM Raceway was Nov. 6, 1988 and won by Alan Kulwicki.
- This track was originally constructed in 1964.
- The ISM Raceway also consisted of a 2.5 mile road course.
- NASCAR’s first spring race was in 2005.
- This track was repaved in 2011 with some modifications to the layout.
- In 2018, the ISM Raceway underwent a massive renovation to the tune of nearly $180 million.
- Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon hold the record for the most starts at this track with 34 apiece.
- Ryan Newman leads all active drivers with 32 starts.
- Kevin Harvick holds the record for the most wins with 9.
- 24 different drivers have won at ISM Raceway.
- 9 drivers other than Harvick have multiple wins at this track.
- Hendrick Motorsports has the most team wins with 10.
- Only 11% of the winners (4 out of 44) have come from the pole position. Harvick last did this in 2015.
- Harvick and Jimmie Johnson are tied with the most Top 5’s at 15 apiece.
- 34% of the winners (15 out 44) have had a starting position within the Top 5.
- Jeff Gordon holds the record for most Top 10’s with 24.
- 50% of the winners (22 out of 44) have had a starting position within the Top 10.
- Ryan Newman has the most poles at this track with 4.
- Harvick has the most laps led with 1,522, but it’s Mark Martin with the most career laps at this track with 10,477.
- The most lead changes at an ISM race was 28 back in 2011.
- The most caution flags came in 2014 when the race had 12 of them.
- Alan Kulwicki has the best average finish of all drivers at 5.2. Chase Elliott leads active drivers with a 6.8 average finish.
- ISM Raceway has never had to cancel a qualification due to weather.
- Only two races have ever been shortened by weather.
- Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete in a race at this track.