NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race betting odds, preview, and pick
The NASCAR Cup Series season comes to a close this Sunday at Phoenix Raceway in the 312-lap Championship Race (3:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
While every driver in the field is eligible to win this race, it will most likely be either Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, or Martin Truex Jr. – the only four drivers now eligible for the Bill France Cup – taking the checkered flag. The Championship 4 drivers dominated the Top 4 for most of last year’s season finale, when Elliott clinched title honors with a victory.
Let’s review the résumés of each Championship 4 driver, and see where bettors should be placing their money. Bear in mind that qualifying will be held on Saturday night to determine Sunday’s starting order.
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race
Sun, November 7 2021, 8:00 PM
Truex Jr, Martin
Larson would be a deserving champion after dominating most of the 35 races leading up to this one. He recorded nine wins, by far the most of any driver (Truex and Alex Bowman tied for second with four wins apiece), and led the most laps by a hefty margin over Hamlin (2,474 to 1,502).
The No. 5 Chevrolet driver won three straight races prior to last Sunday, when he led 77 laps before checking in 14th at Martinsville. Larson has never won at Phoenix (0-for-14), but his average finish over this course in his last five visits is 4.8. However, he’s only led three laps in that span. It may be worth it to bet against the favorite in this spot.
Elliott won twice in the regular season following his championship triumph, but both came on road courses (COTA and Road America). He earned just three Top 5 finishes in the first nine playoff races, but he had enough of a cushion to make it into the Championship 4 on points.
Elliott finished a non-threatening fifth in the Phoenix race held last March, dropping him to 1-for-11 lifetime over this track. He appears to be an underlay in the Cup Series finale.
Hamlin picked the perfect time to do his best driving of the year, as he won two of the nine playoff races after taking a goose egg in the regular season. However, he didn’t miss the regular season title by much despite spotting Larson five victories.
The ultra-consistent No. 11 Toyota driver appeared best at Martinsville last week, but Alex Bowman’s perhaps-accidental shove spun him out en route to a 24th-place finish. Factoring out that result, Hamlin had an average finish of 5.13 during the NASCAR playoffs.
As long as he qualifies well, Hamlin looks like the best bet to win this race, and clinch his first career Cup Series championship.
Truex had a very strong first half of the season, amassing three wins ahead of the All-Star Race. That includes his first triumph in 31 races over this course last March.
Aside from his score at Richmond during the playoffs, he led very few laps while picking up some Top 10s and squeaking into the Championship 4. If he recaptures his form from Phoenix earlier this year, his backers will be paid off handsomely. But Truex is the longest shot of the four for a reason.