Complete Instacart 500 NASCAR Preview

Instacart-500

On Sunday, March 14th, NASCAR will be live from the Phoenix Raceway for the Instacart 500. This will be the first of two trips to Phoenix in 2021 and it’s the 5th race on the season.

Last weekend, Kyle Larson won at Las Vegas marking his first victory since being suspended. It was an entertaining race with plenty of on-track action and a redemptive story that fans, drivers and pundits all gravitated to.

Larson was the 4th different winner this season and continued the trend of non-favorites winning in 2021. This weekend, Chase Elliott is favored to win the Instacart 500. He’s followed by Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch.

Let’s get our safety gear on, strap in tightly, and rev those engines as we make some checkered flag winning predictions for the Instacart 500.

We’re about to make the West wild again.

? | @phoenixraceway pic.twitter.com/BuHY7APtvL

— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 9, 2021

Race Profile

This race is one of just four that’s measured in kilometers instead of miles. The race will consist of 500km, which converts to 312 miles.

The raceway has a lap length of one mile and four turns with banking varying from 8 to 11 degrees. There’s also a front stretch and a backstretch. Sunday’s race breaks down as follows:

Total Miles: 312 miles
Total Laps: 312
Stage 1: First 75 laps
Stage 2: Second 115 laps
Final Stage: Remaining 122 laps

The Instacart 500 is set to begin at 3:30 PM ET and will air live on FOX.

What to Watch for at Phoenix

With all of the excitement heading into this weekend, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Phoenix:

Can Kevin Harvick return to victory lane?
Will we get another surprise winner?
Can Chase Elliott win as oddsmakers predict?
Will Ford win for the 3rd time in four years?
Can Stewart-Haas get its 6th win of this race?

Previous Instacart 500 Winners

The inaugural Phoenix race was run in 2005 and won by Kurt Busch. Since then, Kevin Harvick has gone on to win this race five times, which is the most among all past and present drivers. Joey Logano is the defending Instacart 500 winner.

The following is a list of winners dating back to 2005:

Kurt Busch in 2005
Kevin Harvick in 2006, 2014-2016, 2018
Jeff Gordon in 2007, 2011
Jimmie Johnson in 2008
Mark Martin in 2009
Ryan Newman in 2010, 2017
Denny Hamlin in 2012
Carl Edwards in 2013
Kyle Busch in 2019
Joey Logano in 2020

NASCAR Instacart 500 Betting Odds

The following betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Chase Elliott (+475)
Brad Keselowski (+500)
Denny Hamlin (+700)
Kevin Harvick (+700)
Kyle Busch (+800)
Kyle Larson (+800)
Joey Logano (+850)
Martin Truex Jr (+1000)
Ryan Blaney (+1400)
William Byron (+1800)
Alex Bowman (+2500)
Kurt Busch (+2500)
Christopher Bell(+3300)
Aric Almirola (+5000)
Matt DiBenedetto (+5000)
Tyler Reddick (+6600)
Austin Dillon (+8000)
Cole Custer (+8000)
Chase Briscoe (+10000)
Darrell Wallace Jr (+10000)
Erik Jones (+10000)
Ryan Newman (+10000)
Chris Buescher (+15000)
Michael McDowell (+15000)

Instacart 500 Betting Favorites

According to the majority of online betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Instacart 500 on Sunday, March 14th:

Driver
Wins
Top 5
Top 10
Avg Start
Avg Finish
DNF
Chase Elliott
1
3
6
4.6
11.8
1
Brad Keselowski
0
7
11
13.8
13.0
1
Denny Hamlin
2
14
18
10.0
11.1
1
Kevin Harvick
9
18
25
14.3
8.9
0
Kyle Busch
2
12
22
10.4
10.5
1

Chase Elliott (+475)

Top 5 (-115)
Top 10 (-360)

After four races, Elliott sits in 4th overall. However, outside of his 2nd place finish in the Daytona 500, Elliott hasn’t even cracked the Top 10 in any other race. Fortunately, leading some laps and winning one stage have helped keep him in the Top 5 of the driver standings.

Elliott returns to Phoenix where he won the last race here which was the 2020 championship race. He started on the pole, led 153 laps, and captured the Cup Series championship.

He also finished 7th in the spring race last year after leading 93 laps. That’s a total of 246 laps led at this track in 2020, which is one big reason why he’s the favorite this weekend.

In 10 starts at this track, Elliott has one win, three Top 5s, six Top 10s, and an 11.8 average finish which is the 4th best among drivers.

I believe Elliott will finish inside the Top 10, but I have his ceiling at a Top 5 result. The reigning champ needs to get back on track, or go to a road course, before I pick him to win a race.

Brad Keselowski (+500)

Top 5 (-110)
Top 10 (-335)

Keselowski comes in sitting 2nd overall in the standings just 38 points behind Denny Hamlin. He was 2nd last weekend at Las Vegas and hasn’t finished worse than 16th on the season. He’s also led laps in the last two races.

The #2crew is going to love this! @keselowski will start on the pole for Sunday’s race at @phoenixraceway! pic.twitter.com/QWr2Lmv34D

— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 10, 2021

In 23 starts at Phoenix, Keselowski has never won but he does have seven Top 5s and 11 Top 10s. Furthermore, he was 2nd last year to Elliott in the fall race and 11th in the 2020 Instacart 500. He’s also led laps in five of the last six races at this track.

Keselowski will start on the pole for this weekend’s race, but will it be enough to get his first win at this track?

I see Keselowski being a Top 10 car with a Top 5 ceiling. But, there are other drivers with a better shot at winning this race than the #2 car on Sunday.

Denny Hamlin (+700)

Top 5 (-105)
Top 10 (-315)

As mentioned above, Denny Hamlin is leading the field as he sits on top of the driver standings with a 38 point lead. He has three Top 5s, three Top 10s, has the most laps led (150) and also has the most stage wins with three. Furthermore, he leads the field in Playoff Points as well.

Hamlin has done all this without even winning a race so far. He was 4th last weekend in Las Vegas and led 47 laps. And, he hasn’t finished worse than 11th on the season which came at Homestead two weeks ago. He had a 4.0 average finish at the two Daytona races to start off the season.

Hamlin has put together a solid run at this track. In 31 starts, he has two wins, 14 Top 5s, and 18 Top 10s. His Top 5s are second to only Kevin Harvick.

In the last six races at Phoenix, Hamlin has four Top 5s and one win. In the last 18 races at this track, he has two wins, nine Top 5s, and 12 Top 10s. Hamlin’s 11.0 average finish is the 3rd best among active drivers.

I like for the #11 car to be one of the drivers to beat this weekend. Pencil him in for a Top 10 and Top 5 result as he challenges for the checkered flag.

Kevin Harvick (+700)

Top 5 (-105)
Top 10 (-315)

After starting off the season with three straight Top 6 results, Harvick had a poor performance at Las Vegas last weekend when he finished 20th overall. The result dropped him from 2nd overall to 7th in the driver standings.

Unlike last year when Harvick was already proving to be the leader of the field after the first month of the 2020 season, Harvick has yet to even win a stage. He also has the lowest amount of laps led (17) among the Top 8 drivers in the standings. These are subpar numbers for Harvick.

Fortunately for the #4 car comes to a track this weekend where he’s absolutely dominated at in his career.

Harvick leads all drivers in wins (9), Top 5s (18), Top 10s (25), laps led (1,662) and average finish (8.9). Some have even dubbed him “Mr. Phoenix.”

If ever there was a time for Harvick to flex his muscles at this track, it’s this Sunday.

In the last 15 races at Phoenix, Harvick has six wins, 12 Top 5s, and 15 Top 10s. He hasn’t finished outside of the Top 10 since a 13th place result in the 2013 edition of this race.

Harvick hasn’t won the Instacart 500 since 2018, but he does have five straight Top 9 results and had an average finish of 4.5 in the two Phoenix races last year.

I have Harvick as the man to beat on Sunday as he will be a Top 10 and Top 5 car.

Kyle Busch (+800)

Top 5 (+115)
Top 10 (-275)

After the first three weeks where Busch was lucky to get one Top 10, the #18 car rebounded at his home track of Las Vegas with a solid 3rd place result. That finish bumped him up to 14th in the standings which is a four spot jump from the previous week.

However, Busch hasn’t led a lap this year so far, has one DNF, and has no stage wins. It’s been a rough start to a year where the 2019 Cup Series champ was looking to get back to his winning ways.

Two-time #NASCAR Cup champ @KyleBusch and @stanleytools have teamed up to tackle @phoenixraceway on Sunday in this #TeamSTANLEY scheme. What do you think? pic.twitter.com/ruNNbedLC5

— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) March 10, 2021

Fortunately for Busch, just like with Harvick, he comes to a track where he’s performed well at in recent years.

For his career, Busch has three wins at Phoenix. He also has 12 Top 5s, 22 Top 10s and a 10.5 average finish which is the 2nd best among active drivers.

In the last 11 starts at this track, Busch has two wins, nine Top 5s, and 10 Top 10s. In fact, he didn’t finish worse than 11th over that span. He also won this race in 2019 after winning the fall 2018 race.

I think Busch is a solid choice this weekend. I have him just behind Harvick and on par with Hamlin for being a threat to win on Sunday. He’s a solid Top 10 and Top 5 bet for the Instacart 500.

The Best Instacart 500 Betting Value

The following drivers offer NASCAR betting value for the Instacart 500 due to their current betting odds, their past success at Phoenix Raceway, and their 2021 season so far:

Driver
Wins
Top 5
Top 10
Avg Start
Avg Finish
DNF
Kyle Larson
0
5
7
7.7
12.0
1
Joey Logano
2
6
13
10.5
13.9
4
Kurt Busch
1
7
20
12.2
13.6
2

Kyle Larson (+800)

Top 5 (+135)
Top 10 (-250)

As mentioned at the top of the article, Kyle Larson won last weekend in Las Vegas. It was an exciting victory for my hometown driver who bounced back from a suspension that almost cost him his NASCAR career.

Larson currently sits 3rd in the driver standings with one win, two Top 5s, three Top 10s and one stage win.

A fast https://t.co/c8UD8QZ9FE Camaro + a dedicated @HendrickAuto team = a win @KyleLarsonRacin will never forget! pic.twitter.com/nebHp6Q3yM

— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) March 11, 2021

Furthermore, he’s 2nd in Playoff Points just four behind Denny Hamlin. Larson also has the 3rd most laps led on the young season.

If it weren’t for a late lap crash at the Daytona road race, where he was in the Top 5, Larson could be leading the standings.

In 13 starts at Phoenix, Larson has five Top 5s and seven Top 10s with a 12.0 average finish which is 5th best among drivers.

Over the last four races at this track, he has four Top 6s and three Top 5s. Larson was 4th in this race last year and 6th in 2019.

I expect Larson to be a Top 10 car with a Top 5 ceiling. I don’t think he will be able to outrace guys like Harvick and Busch for the checkered flag.

Joey Logano (+850)

Top 5 (+115)
Top 10 (-275)

Another week, another under the radar performance as Logano finished 9th at Las Vegas last weekend. He currently sits 5th in the standings.

Logano could be higher if it weren’t for that late lap crash in the Daytona 500 where he was fighting for the race win. He did have a surprising 2nd place result at the Daytona road race in the second week of the season.

The #22 car is the reigning winner of the Instacart 500 and followed that up with a 3rd place result in the fall race. That’s a 2.0 average finish in the two Phoenix races last year which is the best among the field.

Logano has two wins, six Top 5s, and 13 Top 10s in 24 starts. His 13.9 average finish ranks him 9th best among active drivers. However, he does have two crashes in the last eight races at this track.

I like Logano to finish in the Top 10 and possibly flirt with a Top 5 result this weekend.

Kurt Busch (+250)

Top 5 (+350)
Top 10 (+105)

Kurt Busch has had quite the first month of the season where he currently sits 10th overall in the standings. Busch was 4th in the Daytona road race and 8th at Homestead which had him 6th overall in the standings. But a 19th place finish at Las Vegas last weekend dropped him four spots.

Busch won the first ever Instacart 500 race back in 2005. Unfortunately, he hasn’t won at this track since then.

In 36 career starts, he has one win, seven Top 5s, 20 Top 10s and a 13.6 average finish which is 8th best among drivers.

Kurt’s 20 Top 10 finishes is the 3rd best among drivers, behind his brother and Harvick. In the last four races at this track, he has a 9.0 average finish. In the last three Instacart 500 races, he has three Top 10s and a 7.6 average finish.

I like Busch’s Top 10 odds for this weekend’s race. I believe they offer solid value as I see the #1 car cracking the Top 10.

The Top Longshot to Win the Instacart 500

Michael McDowell (+15000)

Top 5 (+2500)
Top 10 (+450)

The Daytona 500 winner had three straight Top 8 finishes to start the year, but came in 17th last weekend at Las Vegas. That result dropped him from 4th to 9th in the standings. However, he still has an 8.0 average finish over the first four races.

McDowell is not only a longshot to win this race, which I don’t think he will, but he’s also a longshot to finish in the Top 10 and the Top 5. That’s because he has an abysmal record at Phoenix.

In 20 career starts, McDowell has never finished in the Top 10. His best finish was 16th and he did it twice including last year’s Instacart 500.

In fact, of all the full time drivers, McDowell has the worst average finish at 31.8. He also has seven DNFs which is the most among the field.

With the way he’s driven so far this season, I think McDowell can flirt with a Top 10 result. But, it will take lightning striking twice for McDowell to win this race.

The Rest of the Field at Instacart 500

The following drivers are worth keeping an eye on in this weekend’s Instacart 500 from Phoenix Raceway:

Martin Truex Jr (+1000) – The #19 car has never won at this track in 30 career starts. He does have 12 Top 10 results including five in the last seven Phoenix races. He was 32nd in this race last year and has four DNFs in his career.
Ryan Blaney (+1400) – In five of his 10 starts at this track, Blaney has cracked the Top 10. He also has three Top 6 results in the last four races at Phoenix. Blaney crashed out of this race last year, but was 3rd in the 2019 race. He sits 15th in the driver standings.
William Byron (+1800) – Byron won at Homestead two weeks ago and followed that up with an 8th place result last weekend at Las Vegas. He’s hoping to score a third straight Top 10 and continue to rise in the driver standings where he’s currently 11th Byron does have two straight Top 10s and three in his six career starts at Phoenix Raceway. He’s also never crashed out and his 13.5 average finish is the 7th best among drivers.
Christopher Bell (+3300) – In two races at this track, Bell finished 24th and 17th. Those aren’t anything to get excited about. But, he does have one win on the year and his 7th place result last weekend at Las Vegas bumped him up to 5th in the driver standings.

The Best Top 5 Bet for Instacart 500

Over the last 18 races at Phoenix, Harvick has seven wins, 14 Top 5s, and 17 Top 10s. His lowest result was a 13th place finish in the 2013 edition of the Instacart 500. No other driver has dominated this track like Harvick and I expect him to continue that trend this weekend.

Last year, Harvick had a 4.5 average finish as he was 2nd in this race and 7th in the fall race. Harvick has won the Instacart 500 five times including four in the last seven races.

With 18 Top 5s in 36 starts, where 14 have been in the last 18 races, I am taking Harvick to finish in the Top 5 this weekend along with making him my race favorite.

The Best Top 10 Bet for Instacart 500

Kyle Busch is my choice as the best Top 10 bet for this weekend’s race. Sure, we could go with Harvick or Hamlin, but Busch is less of a favorite than those two.

Furthermore, he has 10 Top 10 results in the last 11 races at this track. The only race where he didn’t crack the Top 10 was the fall race last year and he was 11th.

Busch has the 2nd best average finish among active drivers at 10.5 and he also has the second most wins at this track with three.

I believe the #18 car will have a strong run this weekend and be in the Top 5.

Instacart 500 Checkered Flag

My Top 5 drivers for this weekend are Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. With that said, I believe the race winner will come down to Busch, Hamlin and Harvick. Combined, these three drivers have 14 total wins at this track.

20 years ago today, Kevin Harvick edged Jeff Gordon for an emotional win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. pic.twitter.com/PGCqxVR9qq

— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 11, 2021

Of those three, I have to go with Kevin Harvick to win. This man has dominated a track like no other. Despite going three years without a win, which is his longest stretch since 2006 to 2012, Harvick still had three Top 5s and five Top 9s over the last five Phoenix races.

He leads all drivers in every major statistical category at this track. Furthermore, he’s about due for a win on the season especially at the track that he’s conquered nine times over.

My Top 5 Drivers

Denny Hamlin
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick
Kyle Larson
Joey Logano

Instacart 500 Betting Recap

Betting Value:

Kyle Larson (+800)
Joey Logano (+850)
William Byron (+1800)
Kurt Busch (+250)

Longshot

Michael McDowell (+15000)

Winner

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …

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