By David Caraviello | | 10 mins
NASCAR Cup Series 2022 Season Preview & Championship Futures Odds
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In NASCAR’s top series, repeating as champion has never been easy - no driver has done it since the great Jimmie Johnson won five consecutive titles from 2006-2010. Top contenders are typically left playing catch-up to those who were able to turn their focus to the following season months in advance. And now, Kyle Larson has another obstacle: A next-generation car that in many ways is a radical departure from its predecessor.
And yet, that hasn’t stopped almost every major online sportsbook from establishing 2021 champ Larson as the favorite to win the title again in 2022, with futures odds ranging from +250 at Caesars Sportsbook to +360 at DraftKings.
Hey, no question the guy is really good, and his Hendrick Motorsports team is the class of the sport. But with six different champions over the past six years, and with a slew of changes debuting in 2022, it might be prudent to consider all your wagering options.
Especially considering that Larson could have been had for around +1000 this time last year, depending on the book. A similar breakthrough this time around would have someone like Ryan Blaney or William Byron standing on the big podium after the finale at Phoenix.
But the pool of legit title contenders is small in NASCAR - realistically, only nine or ten drivers - especially since the only path to the championship is through late-season race victories.
NASCAR Championship 2022 Futures Odds
|Martin Truex Jr.||+900|
NASCAR Championship Futures Betting Tips
With the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition behind them, NASCAR drivers now brace for the Feb. 20 Daytona 500, the beginning of a relentless stretch of 36 races in 37 weeks.
NASCAR betting fans should be well aware that this will be a season of transition, primarily because of a retooled racecar that will have pieces all supplied by central manufacturers - that’s right, teams won’t build them anymore - and feature a five-speed transmission, independent rear suspension, and a central wheel lug nut.
So yeah, it’s going to be different. And given the dynamics of superspeedway racing, we may not know the full extent of how this vehicle performs until the season’s second race in Fontana, California on February 27.
So it might be worth waiting a few weeks to come back and check the NASCAR odds before placing a futures wager on the Cup Series championship, just to give the unknowns time to shake themselves out.
But the cash-rich big teams always tend to adapt the best, so the idea that the new car is going to help a little team come out of nowhere to win the title seems fanciful at best. And yet, given that the vehicles are expected to perform a little more like sports cars (largely because there’s no more solid rear axle), there’s certainly the possibility for long-odds winners in individual races, particularly on the six road courses the series visits this year.
And be aware that there’s been some shuffling in the driver ranks. Most notably, Brad Keselowski is now driver and co-owner of a Roush team that’s sorely lacked performance in recent years, the reason his title odds are in the +2500 range.
Austin Cindric takes over his old No. 2 car at Penske. Veteran Kurt Busch has joined Talladega winner Bubba Wallace at the 23XI outfit co-owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan, while the Wood Brothers car will be driven by Harrison Burton.
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NASCAR Championship Futures Best Bets To Back
Denny Hamlin To Win ChampionshipOdds: +700 at BetMGM
The Joe Gibbs Racing mainstay has been hit-or-miss throughout his career, piling up big win numbers one year, enduring long winless stretches the next. But despite all that, Hamlin has also finished fourth or better in the championship standings for three years running, meaning that he continues to give himself a chance to win the title on the last weekend of the season.
Clearly, he needs to find more consistency in the playoff. But he’s also always in the mix, and one day the best driver of his era without a title seems bound to breakthrough.
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Hendrick Motorsports Under 14.5 Season WinsOdds: -120 at DraftKings
Hendrick won 17 races in 2021, largely on the strength of Larson’s 10 victories, most by a single driver since Johnson in 2007. But 2021 was also the first time Hendrick had cracked the double-digit mark since 2013.
Granted, this team has endured a generational transition since then, with the Jimmie-Jeff-Junior trio giving way to younger drivers who took a while to find their footing. But 15 race wins seems a lot to ask of any team this year given the challenge presented by the new car.
Penske Racing Over 4.5 Season WinsOdds: -105 at DraftKings
Even without Keselowski, Penske presents a strong duo in Joey Logano and Blaney, and a newcomer in Cindric who should be favorite for rookie of the year. Penske has tied or exceeded five wins for four straight years, and the know-how remains in the shop even with Brad K off to Roush.
Clash winner Logano, who’s won a race every year since 2011, remains the most underestimated driver in the sport. Blaney is excellent on superspeedways, and Cindric is very capable of stealing a victory on a road course.