Chase Elliott is the driver to beat ahead of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Phoenix.
Elliott is at +200 to win the Cup Series title outright and +250 to win Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, NBC). And it’s very easy to see why. Elliott leads the Cup Series in wins this season at five and he scored the most points during the regular season.
Elliott’s also pretty good at Phoenix. In 13 starts at the one-mile oval, Elliott has a win, five top-five finishes and eight top 10s. That win came in 2020 as Elliott won the Cup Series title.
If Elliott wins the championship, NASCAR will have its first split Cup Series title of the modern era. While the driver championship receives most of the attention over the course of the season, the owner championship is the source of teams’ revenue from NASCAR’s points fund. And Elliott’s car isn’t racing for the owner title because of Kurt Busch’s midseason concussion.
Since Busch’s No. 45 car qualified for the owner playoffs but Busch wasn’t able to participate in the driver playoffs, just 15 of the 16 drivers racing for the title had their cars in the owner playoffs. And Kyle Larson’s No. 5 car is racing for the owner title on Sunday in lieu of Elliott’s No. 9.
Christopher Bell is the No. 2 favorite behind Elliott at +250 to win the title and +325 to win the race. Bell won at Martinsville to make the title race and has two top 10s in five starts.
Joey Logano and Ross Chastain are both at +300 to win the title and +400 to win the race. Logano may be the best value of the four drivers racing for the title given his extensive title-race experience and his success at Phoenix. He has two wins, seven top fives and 15 wins in 27 starts at the track.
Chastain’s finishes at Phoenix have improved in every race he’s run there in decent equipment. He was second at Phoenix earlier this season.
If you’re going to bet a driver to win the championship, we recommend you take the longer odds and bet him to win the race instead. The title-winning driver has won the final race of the season in every year of NASCAR’s winner-take-all format. While the sheer number of winners in 2022 makes this season a prime opportunity for that streak to end, we’re not confident in that happening.
Neither are oddsmakers. Larson is the No. 5 favorite to win the race at +1200 as he’s still racing for the owner title. Denny Hamlin is at +1600 and Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney are at +1800.