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Categorized | NASCAR

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Picks & Predictions: Top Sleeper Bets for the TicketGuardian 500

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Picks and Predictions – Top Sleeper Bets for the TicketGuardian 500: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visits ISM Raceway this weekend for the TicketGuardian 500. The low-banked, 1.0-mile track will be known by most fans as Phoenix Raceway, but no matter the name of the track, Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 could be a golden opportunity to cash in with an underdog.

Unlike the last two races at Atlanta and Las Vegas, pit strategy should come into play a lot more this weekend. The lack of banking at ISM makes passing difficult, and drivers on older tires are able to hold their position for at least a little while. This allows crew chiefs to get creative with strategy and potentially steal a win.

Don’t be surprised if the fastest car doesn’t win the race this weekend, and here is a closer look at a couple of my favorite underdog bets and deep sleepers for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500.

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Picks and Predictions: Top Sleeper Bets for the TicketGuardian 500

Top Sleepers

Erik Jones (+2250)

Jones had a stellar rookie season in 2017, and he had two strong showings at ISM. After finishing eighth in the March race, he notched a fourth-place finish in the fall event. In addition to his success at ISM, Jones is on the upswing overall. He turned into a weekly top-10 threat in the second half of last season, and joining Joe Gibbs Racing this year should only bolster his chances of contending for wins. Fresh of a top-10 last weekend at Vegas, Jones is one of my favorite bets when you dip below the favorites.

Alex Bowman (+4400)

It’s been a rocky start to his first full season with Hendrick Motorsports, but a trip to ISM could be just what the doctor ordered for Bowman. In the fall race in 2016, he was asked to sub for an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. He proceeded to go out and win the pole, and he then led a race-high 194 laps before ending up sixth after a series of late restarts. His confidence should be riding high as he heads to a track where he knows he can compete for the win, bettors should try to capitalize on a potential sleeping giant.

Ryan Newman (+5500)

He is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and Newman’s aggressive style is tailor made for stealing wins at a track like ISM. He’s usually close enough to the front to make a bold strategy call to grab the lead late, and he has finished 12th or better in seven of his last nine starts here. Once he’s out front, Newman is as tough as anyone in the series to pass, especially at a track where passing is already incredibly difficult. This is exactly how Newman won this race last year and in 2010. With the potential for a solid payout, you may want to bet on him doing it one more time.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+10000)

Stenhouse is rarely in contention for wins as it is, and his overall numbers at ISM aren’t pretty. However, he came out of nowhere to deliver two strong finishes at the track last year, finishing fourth in the March race and eighth in the fall. Now, I’m skeptical that he can back up those results this weekend, and Vegas clearly is, as well. However, these are pretty nice odds for one of just four drivers who cracked the top 10 in both races at ISM a year ago.

Ty Dillon (+50000)

He has barely shown the ability to contend for top-10s, let alone wins, but Dillon is one of the total longshots that could be worth throwing some money at. He has three Cup starts under his belt at ISM, and he has finished 16th or better in all of them, posting a career-best 11th-place run at the track last fall. No, he hasn’t been close to winning, but he has been close enough to the front to roll the dice on some pit strategy and potentially steal a win. The bottom line is that Dillon has a puncher’s chance, and that’s a lot more than you can say about the other guys getting similar odds this weekend.

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