NASCAR Cup Series Championship Predictions, Odds & Picks

  • Reigning champion Kyle Larson opens as a strong favorite to repeat title run.
  • After a winless season, Kevin Harvick is heavily discounted by oddsmakers.
  • Three Hendrick drivers are among top four betting choices—what about Bowman?

NASCAR Cup Series Championship Odds

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Winner Odds
Kyle Larson +400
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Chase Elliott +550
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William Byron +700
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Kyle Busch +800
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Ross Chastain +800
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Denny Hamlin +850
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Ryan Blaney +900
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Joey Logano +1000
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Martin Truex Jr. +1200
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Alex Bowman +1600
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Chase Briscoe +1800
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Tyler Reddick +1900
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Austin Cindric +2200
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Kevin Harvick +2500
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Christopher Bell +2500
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Kurt Busch +6000
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Daniel Suarez +6000
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Brad Keselowski +8000
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Austin Dillon +8000
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Justin Haley +10000
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NASCAR Cup Series Championship Predictions

On November 7, 2021, Kyle Larson won the NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway, but not in the dominant fashion he had displayed in many of his earlier victories.

It took an opportune late caution and a lightning-fast pit stop by his crew for Larson to take the lead and speed toward his first NASCAR title.

Complicating Larson’s championship defense this year is NASCAR’s switch to the Next-Gen car in the Cup Series. Drivers have been testing the new race car during the offseason, but many unknowns remain—specifically how the car will perform aerodynamically in traffic.

Fans will get their first look at the Next-Gen car in competition on February 6 in the Busch Light Clash on a quarter-mile track in the Los Angeles Coliseum, but the first real high-speed test in a points-paying race will come in the Daytona 500 on February 20.

Kyle Larson Starts NASCAR Cup Title Defense as Clear Favorite to Repeat

Before 2021, Kyle Larson had won six NASCAR Cup Series races in 223 starts, but a move to Hendrick Motorsports provided the landscape Larson needed to showcase his enormous talent.

Driving the No. 5 Chevrolet, Larson won 10 of the 36 Cup Series points races contested last year and delivered to team owner Rick Hendrick a record 14th series championship.

In addition, Larson won three of the marquee non-NASCAR dirt races on the calendar—the Chili Bowl Nationals for midget racers and the Knoxville Nationals and Kings Royal for winged sprint cars. Larson is the two-time defending winner of the Chili Bowl.

Clearly, two of Larson’s foremost talents are car control and adaptability. That bodes well for the transition to NASCAR’s new NextGen race car, which marks a dramatic change in the equipment Cup drivers will race in 2022.

And that’s one of the main reasons we agree with the oddsmakers and expect Larson (+360 via DraftKings Sportsbook) to win consecutive championships for the first time since Jimmie Johnson put together five in a row from 2006-2010.

Kevin Harvick Looks to Rebound from Rare Lackluster Performance in 2021

We don’t agree with oddsmakers that Kevin Harvick is a long shot to win a second NASCAR Cup Series title.

Yes, the 2014 champion is coming off a winless 2021 season, a drought that broke an 11-year streak of winning at least one race per season. But remember that the entire four-car Stewart-Haas Racing organization won only once last year—with Aric Almirola’s triumph at New Hampshire.

Harvick, who won a career-best nine times in 2020, is an elite driver nearing the end of his career at age 46. But Harvick won’t have back-to-back underwhelming seasons, and the switch to the Next Gen car should provide a boost to his effort.

Accordingly, we like Harvick at +1500 (DraftKings) and think he’s worth a shot at that excellent price.

Handicappers Love Hendrick Motorsports—Except for Alex Bowman

As noted above, oddsmakers favor Kyle Larson to win a second straight championship, and we do, too.

Four-time NASCAR Cup Series most popular driver Chase Elliott (+500 DraftKings) is the second choice to add another title to one he claimed for Hendrick Motorsports in 2020.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin (+700) is the third choice, followed by Hendrick driver William Byron (+800), who at age 24 is starting his fifth full season at the Cup level.

That make three Hendrick drivers in the top four picks for the 2022 championship. But what of the fourth HMS driver, Alex Bowman? Why is he a long-shot pick at +1800 after winning four times in 2021, tied with Martin Truex Jr. for second-most in the series?

Bowman’s problem has always been a lack of consistency, but if he and crew chief Greg Ives can smooth out the rough spots, Bowman could be a steal at current odds. That’s a big “if,” though.

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Reid Spencer

Expert on NASCAR

Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]