The NASCAR Cup Series has another stop on the west coast this week, as Phoenix Raceway will host the Instacart 500 on Sunday afternoon before the teams head back east to Atlanta the following week. Phoenix is a flat track that is one mile in length and will also serve as the Championship-deciding race later this year. Similar tracks include Richmond, New Hampshire, and Martinsville, with Richmond being the closest. Joey Logano won this particular race last season while, as we all probably remember, Chase Elliott won here last fall.
How the algorithm works: There are quite a few statistics that go into the Power Index formula, including recent performance both overall and at this week’s track specifically, similar track performance, projected strength of the car, practice speeds (when applicable), starting position, and a few other variables.
Before We Get To The Algorithm Results…Thoughts On A Couple Drivers
Ryan Blaney – With Richmond being the most similar track to Phoenix, obviously this algorithm is going to take results over there into account when predicting the finishing order for Sunday’s race. That hurts Ryan Blaney because, for whatever reason, he’s just not good at Richmond. And by “not good” I mean has never finished better than 18th in nine career starts. So while the algorithm has Young Ryan Blaney projected to finish 9th here on Sunday, he could very well be a better fantasy option than that. The guy has finished 6th or better in three of the last four Phoenix races and, as I said in my Preview article, Penske was dominant on flat tracks last year. Excluding Richmond and the Phoenix race where he had issues, Blaney had an average running position rank of 7.5 on flat tracks in 2020.
William Byron – Don’t be surprised with another great run out of this kid on Sunday. William Byron has had an up-and-down career ever since jumping into the Cup Series back in 2018, but now that he has three full seasons under his belt, he’s blossoming into one of the better racers on the circuit. Here at Phoenix, Byron swept the top 10 last year, and he also finished 12th and 9th here back during his rookie year of 2018. Last season, Byron finished 8th at Martinsville and 11th at New Hampshire–two other flat tracks on the schedule. The algorithm has him ranked 11th but Byron has legitimate top 10 potential on Sunday, and maybe even top 5.
NOTE: The algorithm predicted finishing order was updated after the news of Kyle Larson and William Byron having to start from the rear. Larson was originally projected to win but is now 3rd. Byron stayed in 11th.
Phoenix Instacart 500 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order
|6.||Truex, Jr., Martin||33.96|
|21.||Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky||-04.06|