By David Caraviello | | 18 mins
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Odds & Picks For Season Finale 500 in Phoenix
The 2021 NASCAR Playoffs have come down to four drivers and one final race. Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. are the last competitors still remaining in the championship chase, and it’s fairly simple from here: Of those four drivers, the one who finishes highest in Sunday’s event at Phoenix Raceway wins the title.
Kyle Larson is the clear +170 odds favorite for the championship, no surprise given the devastating finishing kick he has shown by winning four of the past seven races. Elliott is the No. 2 odds choice at +270, thanks to a late-season push that vaulted him to second in the standings. Third at +300 is Hamlin, who cooled a bit after his hot playoff start. Fourth at +380 is Truex, who despite some strong recent finishes has led just 18 laps over the last eight weeks.
A key fact for NASCAR betting fans to remember this week: For seven straight years, the champion has won the final race, so expect all of the final four contenders to place a priority on running up front. Truex won the spring race in Phoenix, Elliott won the fall event there last season, and Hamlin won the track’s fall race in 2019. Larson’s best Phoenix finish is third - but as this season has shown us, that No. 5 car is capable of winning anywhere, anytime.
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race Odds
|Driver||Win||Top 3||Top 10|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+450||-110||-700|
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NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race Expert Picks
Odds To Win Race: +190 at DraftKings
Odds To Win Championship: +170 at DraftKings
Given that the champion tends to clinch the title by winning the final race, it makes sense to double up at sportsbooks and pair a to-win bet with a futures wager. As mentioned above, Larson is the only member of this championship quartet without a race victory at Phoenix, but he has historically been very good in the desert. He hasn’t finished worse than seventh on the D-shaped 1-mile oval since 2018, and his average finish over his last nine starts there has been 9.6. And only one of those starts has come in Hendrick Motorsports equipment, which has been a cut above all season.
Larson over the past seven weeks of this season has won four races and led 744 laps, by far the most among the remaining title contenders. He has been the best driver on the circuit since May, when he won three straight races to establish himself as the championship favorite. He’s chasing the mark of 10 wins not reached since Jimmie Johnson last did it in 2007. If Larson doesn’t win this title, it would be the biggest upset of the season - and that’s saying something in a year when Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500.
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race Betting Tips
Of the four championship contenders, Hamlin owns the most career victories at Phoenix with two, and he has shown a lot of recent strength on the desert mile with four top-five finishes in his last five starts. Truex’s spring victory in Phoenix is one of six top-10 finishes in his last eight starts there, while Elliott has placed seventh, first, and fifth over his last three in Avondale. The bottom line: All four of these drivers are good at a track. The series has visited Phoenix twice a year for nearly two decades, so prop bets boxing some or all of them into the top-five or top-10 might be worth a shot at betting sites.
Is there anyone outside of the Championship 4 with a legitimate chance of pulling an upset? Kevin Harvick owns nine wins in Phoenix, but the most recent was three years ago, and he remains winless this season. A better outsider bet on your sports betting app might be Kyle Busch, who has won three times at Phoenix, has finished fourth or better there in nine of his last 12 starts, and would be vying for the title Sunday if not for an untimely brush with the wall at Kansas two weeks ago.
Joey Logano is another non-title contender with a very good track record at Phoenix, with two victories and five straight top-10 finishes. William Byron owns three straight top-10s at Phoenix, and like teammates Larson and Elliott has that Hendrick power under the hood. But for our best bets, we’re sticking with the NASCAR odds on the title contenders: Larson +190 to win the race and +170 to win the title; Larson, Elliott and Hamlin to all finish in the top-5 at +310; and a Larson/Elliott dual forecast at +1600.
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race Time, Date and TV
When: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
Where: Phoenix Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.