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Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
John Hunter Nemechek
John Hunter Nemechek to win the race at +400
Ben Rhodes to win the series championship at +475
Zane Smith to beat Chandler Smith head-to-head at +120
It’s hard to argue against Chandler Smith as the odds-on pick to win Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway.
Smith is riding the wave of a breakout, three-victory season, but the compelling reason for installing him as Friday’s favorite is his record at Phoenix.
In three starts at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert, Smith has recorded two thirds and a victory. After being eliminated from last season’s Playoffs, Smith won the season finale from the pole, as Ben Rhodes claimed the series title with a third-place result.
Smith is adept at tracks with relatively flat corners—note his wins this year at Pocono and Richmond—and Phoenix certainly falls into that category.
However, Smith, as a first-time Championship 4 finalist, will be racing under the most intense pressure of his career, and we think that will affect his performance.
That’s why we’re steering clear of backing him for the race win at +300 and +170 to win the championship, both via DraftKings Sportsbook. In fact, we like back-to-back championship runner-up Zane Smith (no relation) to beat Chandler Head-to-head at +120 (DraftKings).
The most memorable aspect of Ben Rhodes’ 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship was his post-race press conference.
After securing the title with a third-place finish, the diminutive driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota downed enough celebratory beer to make him largely incoherent.
It’s true that Rhodes hasn’t mounted a stellar defense of his championship this season. His only 2022 victory came on the Bristol Dirt Track in April. Since then, his best results are a second at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the first Playoff race and a second in the October free-for-all at Talladega.
Keep in mind, though, that Rhodes has never won more than two races in a season—and that only once (last year). Nevertheless, he’s the defending series champion.
With the defending champ posted at +475 via DraftKings Sportsbook, we think the proposition is just too tempting to ignore. So we’ll take Rhodes to win a second straight title by beating the three other Playoff drivers at Phoenix.
Four drivers will compete for the Truck Series championship at Phoenix Raceway, but there will be plenty of other drivers in the Championship 4 event.
We’re looking at one in particular. By any standard, John Hunter Nemechek has experienced a disappointing season in the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, having failed to advance to the Championship 4.
But Nemechek will be racing without the title pressure on Friday night, and we like him to make a statement with a victory at +400 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
In eight career starts at Phoenix, seven in family-owned equipment and one with KBM, Nemechek has recorded five top 10s, with two runner-up results. That’s where our money is going on Friday.
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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