Dan Beaver handicaps NASCAR races for NBC Sports Edge.
Early odds list Kyle Larson as PointsBet favorite for Phoenix, championship
The four championship contenders are the top-ranked drivers this week at PointsBet SportsBook for Sunday’s Cup season finale at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).
Kyle Larson is ranked No. 1 at +195 to win the race and +175 to win the championship.
Larson’s odds have significantly decreased throughout the year. Phoenix hosted the fifth race of the season immediately after Larson won his first of nine races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
For the Instacart 500k, he closed at +800. Those were also his odds to win the championship after Week 5, which ranked him sixth in the field.
Larson’s first No. 1 ranking did not come until two weeks later when he was favored to win NASCAR’s first dirt race of the modern era and he would not be favored for a race again until Week 12 at Darlington Raceway. In 23 races since, he has been the favorite 11 times. Larson assumed the mantle of championship favorite after Week 15 and has held it since.
One way to view American odds is to move the decimal point two positions to the left. That will let a bettor know what they will make on a $1 bet. The return on investment for +195 odds is $1.95. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a line of +300 is the same as 3/1.
Chase Elliott is ranked second with +360 odds to win the race and +250 for the championship. Elliott secured the 2020 title by winning this race last year after leading 153 of 312 laps. This spring, Elliott finished fifth at Phoenix, which gives him a three-race streak of results seventh or better.
Ranked third is Denny Hamlin with race odds of +440 and championship odds of +300. He enters the weekend with four top-fives in his last five Phoenix attempts, including a win in November 2019. Hamlin was leading last week at Martinsville Speedway until he was spun by Alex Bowman on Lap 494 as the two battled for the win.
Martin Truex Jr. is ranked fourth at +500 for the race win and +350 for the championship. Truex won the spring Phoenix race, which is one of only two top-fives in the past three seasons. He finished second in March 2019.
Truex is gunning for his second Cup championship after winning the title in 2017. He finished second in the title hunt the next two seasons, but failed to advance to the Championship 4 last year.
The four championship contenders are heavily favored over the field.
Last year, the four drivers vying for the Cup finished first through fourth. The same was true at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the 2018 championship. Since 2017, at least three playoff contenders have finished among the top five in each finale.
Rounding out the top five for the outright win this week is the highest ranked non-playoff driver. William Byron shows long odds of +1600. Byron has challenged for the win in each of the last three races with a worst finish of sixth. He does not yet have a Phoenix top-five, however, with his career-best of eighth being earned this spring.
Another dark horse of note is Kevin Harvick at +2800. He is still seeking his first win of the season on a track that has been incredibly kind in the past. Boasting nine wins and a current top-10 streak of 16 races, he has been the most consistently strong driver in that span. After being eliminated from last year’s playoffs, Harvick finished seventh. He finished sixth this spring.
Last week’s Martinsville winner, Bowman, is listed at +3000.
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