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By Pete Pistone | | 6 mins

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Best Bets for Championship

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Best Bets for Championship

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The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race is on with 16 drivers qualified to compete for the title. After the 26-race regular season, drivers who won a race or stayed above the 16th spot in points earned a berth for the championship drive, which begins with Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Who are the best bets to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship? For those just here for the bets, here they are:

Kyle Busch Winner+350
Kevin Harvick Winner+500
Denny Hamlin Winner+650

The odds listed are current at time of publication but are subject to change.

Best Bets to Win Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title

PICK 1: Kyle Busch

Busch is the No. 1 seed and has a significant advantage early on thanks to the bonus points he earned in the regular season. He was the regular season champion, an achievement worth 15 bonus points, and he has a 15-point edge over the field to kick things off. This is significant because bonus points carry over from one playoff stage to the next.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Best Bets for Championship 1
Kyle Busch won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in 2015.

While Busch has slowed down a little since his fast start to the year, the 2015 Cup champion has put together a solid effort to date. Busch was the first driver to win four races and his 1,166 laps led is most in the playoff field. He also tops the competition in top-10 finishes (21) and he and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin are tied for most top-five finishes (13).

Busch will be a difficult driver to eliminate and a second title is well within his reach. Bet Kyle Busch to win the title +350 at SugarHouse.

PICK 2: Kevin Harvick

No driver has been as hot as Harvick to end the regular season. The Stewart-Haas Racing pilot took three of the last seven including the playoff precursor Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also has nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes on the year.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Best Bets for Championship 2
Kevin Harvick won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in 2014.

Need more? Harvick’s five pole positions are most in the series and his 712 laps led on the year is third-best – behind only Busch (1,166) and fellow three-race winner Brad Keselowski (966). Harvick has been in the Championship 4 every year since the format was introduced in 2014 when he won the title.

He carries the most momentum of any driver into the playoffs and his experience running the gauntlet over the three rounds before the finale will be beneficial. Bet Kevin Harvick to win the championship +500 at 888Sport.

PICK 3: Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has been a perennial fixture in the playoffs for several seasons but has yet to win a championship. Dating back to 2010, Hamlin has endured bad luck, mechanical issues, mistakes and other challenges to keep him from taking the crown. It’s a stigma he’s determined to erase this year.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Best Bets for Championship 3
Denny Hamlin seeks his first career the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.

This season has been one of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s best including a second career Daytona 500 victory as well as wins at Texas, Pocono and Bristol. The 10 tracks in the playoff schedule bode well for Hamlin based on his past performance. Hamlin has earned 16 of his 35 career wins at those tracks – 45.7 percent of his career victory total.

Bet Denny Hamlin to win the championship +650 at Resorts.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Format

The playoffs are broken into three rounds of three races with the four drivers at the bottom of the standings eliminated at the end of the final race. A driver who wins a race automatically moves to the next round with the point standings determining the balance of who moves on. From 16 drivers, the field is cut to 12 for the three-race second stage and so on.

The four drivers still alive at the end of three elimination rounds advance to the Championship 4 finale, No. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Whoever finishes best – not necessarily winning the race – among those four competitors during the 400-mile race earns the crown.

The playoff race schedule was revamped last year but remains intact for 2019. Each of the three rounds contains a trio of tracks completely different from one another. The variety of disciplines – including intermediate tracks, superspeedways, short tracks and even a road course – challenges driver skills.

NASCAR Cup Trends

While there are a number of strong choices to take this year’s crown, there are no clear cut favorites as a year ago when the so-called “Big 3” of Busch, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the regular season. As it turned out, Joey Logano put together a solid 10-race playoff stretch to beat the trio who were all shooting for second career title.

Busch, Harvick and Truex have won a total of 11 races combined this season but have not separated themselves from the other championship challengers. Hamlin added three more victories to his total after opening the season winning “The Great American Race.”

Logano has scored two victories with his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski finding Victory Lane three times. Other playoff drivers with wins over the first 26 races include Chase Elliott (two) and Erik Jones, Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch (one each).

Since the current format was implemented in 2014, there has not been a back-to-back champion. In fact, the last five titles were taken by the Championship 4 driver who won the Homestead finale.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Odds

Kyle Busch+350
Kevin Harvick+500
Denny Hamlin +600
Joey Logano+650
Martin Truex Jr.+750
Brad Keselowski+750
Kurt Busch +1600
Chase Elliott +1600
Erik Jones+1600
Kyle Larson +1800
Alex Bowman +2500
Ryan Blaney +3000
William Byron +5000
Aric Almirola +6600
Clint Bowyer +6600
Ryan Newman +6600

Odds are from DraftKings and are current at time of publication but are subject to change.

About the Author

Pete Pistone for
Pete Pistone
Veteran sports journalist Pete Pistone writes about the Chicago Bears, the NFL, Chicago professional sports, American collegiate sports and NASCAR for