NASCAR Cup Series - FanShield 500 Pick

March 8, 3:30 PM EDT

NASCAR’s Cup Series’ West Coast Swing rolls into Phoenix Raceway this week in preparation for Sunday’s FanShield 500 as the fourth point race on the 2020 schedule. The green flag for Sunday’s race is set to wave at 3:30 p.m. (ET) with FOX carrying the national broadcast.

NASCAR Value Bets - FanShield 500

Three races with three different winners have marked the start of the new season of Cup Series racing. Alex Bowman made an early trip to the Winner’s Circle last Sunday with his victory at Fontana in the Auto Club 400. He was able to hold off Kyle Busch as my top-valued favorite (+550) with his brother Kurt taking third to round out the Top 3.

Moving to this Sunday's race, I have once again turned to 5Dimes online sportsbook to find the best value in the posted odds to win. Here is a look at my top favorite, contender, and longshot to cash a winning ticket.

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Top Favorite - Kyle Busch + 365

At the risk of being redundant, I am going chalk again this week with Busch as my top-valued favorite. A strong run last Sunday at Fontana eased any lingering concern from less than stellar efforts in the first two point races this year. The No. 18 Toyota was in a great position to pay off at those +550 odds before getting edged out for the win. That is not going to happen two weeks in a row if Busch can remain at the front of the pack coming down the stretch this Sunday afternoon.

The main reason I am taking Busch as my top-valued favorite is his recent efforts at Phoenix Raceway. After winning this race last season, he placed second in the fall race as part of his run to the 2019 Cup Series title. All told, he has placed fourth or better in eight of his past nine trips around this oval in a point race.

Top Contender - Ryan Blaney +1300

Blaney was my top contender to win last week, and I am keeping him on the list as well for Phoenix. He nearly won the Daytona 500 after leading just four laps. He ended up being on the wrong side of a photo finish. The No. 12 Ford was the car to beat for 19 laps in Las Vegas before fading to 11th. Last week’s 19th-place finish was a bit disappointing, but you have to factor in that he added 54 more laps as the lead driver. This gives me the feeling that he is due to put everything together in a winning effort sooner than later.

This driver is another one that caught my eye with last season's efforts in Phoenix. Blaney's first six Cup Series races at this track were forgettable. However, he strung together a pair of third-place finishes in last season's racing series here.

Top Longshot - Aric Almirola +4400

With just one Top 10 finish to his credit through the first three point races this season, his current form is not a driving force behind this pick. Although, the eighth-place run at Fontana was encouraging after finishing outside the top 20 drivers in the first two events. Driving the No. 10 Ford, Almirola is still the type of driver that makes his presence known at longer odds. He squeezed into last season's playoff without a win on his overall efforts.

One of his better runs in 2019 came at this track with a fourth-place finish in this week’s event. He also finished fourth in the second race at this track the previous year.

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