Chase Elliott’s victory at Atlanta was a big deal for winless drivers in NASCAR’s Cup Series.
Elliott became the first driver to get three wins when he won in his home state and he’s just one of five drivers with multiple wins so far in 2022. Thirteen drivers have scored wins across the first 19 races of the season. That means just three playoff spots are available for winless drivers.
And the top three winless drivers in the points standings are all inside the top eight. Ryan Blaney is the top winless driver in second and 47 points back of Elliott. Martin Truex Jr. is sixth despite just seven top-10 finishes and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell is in eighth.
With Bell currently occupying the final playoff spot, Kevin Harvick is provisionally out of the playoffs despite being 11th in the points standings entering Sunday’s race at New Hampshire (3 p.m. ET, USA).
It’s crazy to think of a playoff field without Harvick. He’s made the playoffs each season since 2009 and has finished no lower than eighth in the standings in any of the last 12 seasons. But Harvick is also on a winless streak that stretches back 62 races after he won his ninth and final race of the 2020 season.
It’s a winless streak that was hard to imagine after Harvick reeled off 21 wins from 2018-2020. But Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing haven’t been as fast as they were the last two seasons. Harvick has led just 13 laps while Chase Briscoe has led 220 of SHR’s 240 laps led as a team.
Briscoe has the team’s only win of 2022. And the team’s only win of 2021 came at New Hampshire a year ago when Aric Almirola won a darkness-shortened race.
Maybe the return to New Hampshire is what SHR needs to get another driver into victory lane. Almirola enters Sunday’s race a spot behind Harvick in the standings while Briscoe is 18th and Cole Custer is way back in 26th. If one of Stewart-Haas Racing’s winless drivers gets a victory on Sunday, Bell is suddenly on the outside of the playoff picture. And SHR is a step closer to getting back toward the top of the Cup Series.
Here’s what you need to know to bet on the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire. Odds are via BetMGM.
Ryan Blaney (+600)
Kyle Busch (+600)
Joey Logano (+700)
Denny Hamlin (+850)
Martin Truex Jr. (+900)
Ross Chastain (+900)
Blaney has two top fives in nine starts at New Hampshire and one of those came a season ago. Busch has three wins in 30 starts along with 16 top 10s. Logano has won twice at the track while Hamlin leads all active drivers with a 9.6 average finish. Truex has seven top fives in 28 starts and Chastain was eighth a season ago in his first New Hampshire Cup Series start in good equipment.
Good mid-tier value
Kyle Larson (+1200)
Christopher Bell (+1600)
It’s not often you find Larson outside the group of favorites so you might as well bet him when you get the chance at longer odds. Bell finished second a year ago at New Hampshire and won the Xfinity Series race.
Don't bet this driver
Aric Almirola (+2000)
Almirola’s odds are significantly shorter because of his status as the defending champion of the race. We’re not confident that he’ll be able to repeat, however.
Looking for a long shot?
Cole Custer (+25000)
Custer’s odds are astronomical and he has an average finish of 11.0 at New Hampshire along with a Truck Series win at the track. He’s very likely not going to win on Sunday, but why not take a chance on a driver with a decent history at such incredibly good value?