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Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
For the first time this season, the NASCAR Xfinity Series races on a track shorter than 1.5 miles. For a one-day show that features both practice and qualifying on Saturday, the series visits quirky Phoenix Raceway, a one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert.
The United Rentals 200 will be contested over 200 laps, with stage breaks scheduled after 45 and 90 laps. Austin Cindric won last year’s spring race at Phoenix, but the reigning Daytona 500 winner has moved on to the NASCAR Cup Series and won’t be defending his victory on Saturday.
Last week, our top picks for the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series races at Las Vegas both finished second (ugh!). On the Xfinity side, Noah Gragson was runner-up for the second straight race.
In fact, the driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has finished third, second and second in the first three events of the 2021 season, elevating him to the top of the series standings with a 17-point lead over second-place Ty Gibbs.
Obviously, Gragson has shown consistent speed this season, and it’s high time he won a race, but Phoenix may not be the most likely venue for that to happen. Gragson has scored only one top five and three top 10s in six starts at the track.
Though he opened as a co-favorite with teammate Justin Allgaier and JGR’s Gibbs (all +500 via DraftKings Sportsbook), we recommend looking elsewhere for Saturday’s Phoenix winner.
If you’re looking for a driver who’s all but guaranteed to be fighting for the win at the end of a Phoenix race, Justin Allgaier is your man.
Allgaier has started 23 Xfinity Series races at the one-mile track, and in those races, he has completed an astounding 4,615 of a possible 4,618 possible laps (99.9 percent). He has spent 493 of those laps in the lead.
Allgaier’s 23 starts have produced two wins, eight top fives and 15 top 10s, for an average finish of 8.7. The only thing that gives us pause is Allgaier’s recent performance. In last year’s races, he ran eighth and ninth.
Nevertheless, we advocate betting on Allgaier to win (+500 via DraftKings) and to finish in the top three (+140).
It doesn’t seem to matter to Ty Gibbs that he has little or no experience on many of the Xfinity Series tracks. Last Saturday, in his second start at Las Vegas, the 19-year-old driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota outran Noah Gragson for the victory.
The United Rentals 200 will mark Gibbs’ second start at Phoenix. In his debut last March, Gibbs ran second to Austin Cindric. If Allgaier can’t get the job done on Saturday, Gibbs (+500 via DraftKings) is most likely to pick up the slack.
Incidentally, we also like Gibbs’ teammate, Trevor Bayne, to run well. We had a winning bet with Bayne to finish in the top three at Fontana. In his second start of the season, he’s capable of another top-three run at Phoenix (+280), where he posted six straight top 10s in his last six starts (2011-2014).
|Race||United Rentals 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race|
|Time||Saturday, March 12, 4:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
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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