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The NASCAR Cup Series is heating up, with six races in the rearview mirror of the 2023 season. The first two months have been filled with exciting finishes, familiar faces in Victory Lane, and some off-track penalties that could impact the final standings when the dust settles in November.
The sport’s crown jewel, the Daytona 500, was won in overtime by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., marking the driver’s first victory in the Cup Series since 2017. Two-time champions Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, the defending champ, have already won races in 2023 to extend impressive streaks of seasons with at least one victory. Busch’s run dates back to 2005 and Logano’s to 2012, as these two continue to prove they are among the best on track.
William Byron and Tyler Reddick have joined Busch and Logano in the winner’s circle this season. Byron won back-to-back weeks in mid-March at races in Las Vegas and Phoenix to match his victory total from 2022 in just four races.
Reddick won in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas for his first victory of the season after taking three checkered flags last year. We’ll cover these drivers more in the section previewing the betting favorites for 2023.
First, let's take a look at the odds from over at FanDuel Sportsbook as of April 3.
Latest Odds from FanDuel SportsBook
|Martin Truex Jr||+1200|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||+5000|
Logano’s win at Phoenix in the season finale secured his second NASCAR Cup Series title, and he became the third driver in three years to win both the final race of the season and the driver’s championship. The drivers who could have toppled Logano’s chances were runner-up Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and 2020 champion Chase Elliott.
Chastain finished third in the concluding race after starting in 25th position, providing the closest challenge to Logano, while Bell came home 10th and Elliott a disappointing 28th after starting fifth.
Logano’s victory in Phoenix was his fourth win of the campaign, the most he’s had in a season since winning six times in 2015. He is the only driver to win a championship since 2005 without winning five or more races, and he’s done it twice. Logano’s 2018 title was secured with just three victories, the fewest since Kurt Busch won his first season-long championship in 2004.
Twelve drivers have odds of +1500 or better to lift the NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy at the conclusion of this season. Kyle Busch is the favorite to win his third, followed by Logano, 2021 champion Kyle Larson, and Byron.
Byron is the only driver to win multiple races this season, but he and his team have dealt with some controversy. Hendrick Motorsports' four teams were hit with significant penalties after Byron’s win in Phoenix due to a failed pre-race inspection that found modifications to parts that aren’t allowed to be altered per NASCAR regulations.
The victory was upheld because the parts were corrected before the race, but he was docked 100 points in the standings and ten playoff points. His crew chief, Ryan Fugles, was also fined $100k and suspended for the next four races.
This penalty means Ross Chastain sits in the points lead through six races, with Busch and Logano just behind him in second and third, respectively. Chastain’s odds are +1200 currently, tied with Bell and NASCAR’s 2017 champion, Martin Truex Jr.
Kevin Harvick, the 2014 champ, is fourth in the standings with a pair of top-five finishes to his name through March. He sits 11th on the current odds sheet and almost secured his first win of the season in Phoenix.
48-time race-winner Denny Hamlin has the dubious distinction of winning the most races in a career without claiming a championship. The prolific driver has just two top-ten finishes this season and is 11th in the standings through six races. His +1000 championship odds are tied with Elliott and seven-time race-winner Ryan Blaney at this early stage of the season.
In racing sports, such as NASCAR and Formula 1, there is a tendency for the top teams and drivers to separate themselves from the rest of their peers. We’ll take a look at a few of the drivers with some value to capitalize on further down the odds list in this section.
Alex Bowman leads all drivers in top tens and is tied for the lead in top-five finishes through the season's first two months. He has not finished worse than 14th through six races. Despite that level of consistent performance, he’s 16th in the standings and +3000 to win the championship.
Daytona 500 champion Stenhouse Jr. is +5000 to win the Cup Series this season. He’d be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2013 to win both the Great American Race and the championship in the same year if he rose to the top from his current position of 12th. Johnson also accomplished that feat in 2006 and is the only driver to do so multiple times aside from the legendary Richard Petty.
Finally, 2022 Rookie of the Year Austin Cindric is +6000 and is currently 7th in the championship standings after two top tens, a stage win, and leading seven laps through six races. Cindric became the second-youngest driver in Cup Series history to win the Daytona 500 when he did so last year, accomplishing that historic victory in just his eighth start at American racing’s highest level.
With 30 races remaining on the season's calendar, there is plenty of time for contenders to emerge and pretenders to be weeded out. After recapping all of the favorites and long shots, here are our best bets to win the NASCAR Cup Series in 2023. As always, make sure to shop around for the best price!
The defending champ has qualified inside the top three positions four times and finished in the top two twice through six points races. If Logano does successfully defend his title, he’d be the first since the end of Jimmie Johnson’s five straight championships that ended in 2010.
Chastain feels like he has his work cut out for him despite being in the championship lead, but has consistently put himself in positions to compete. He’s started inside the top 12 and led at least one lap in four of the six points races this season, and his only finish outside the top 15 was a 24th at Phoenix. We’ll wager on the current points leader at what we view as discounted odds.
The up-and-comer has four top-ten starts and has led multiple laps in the last two races. Cindric will need to add to his career win total of one this season to rise higher than his 7th position in the standings, but he seems to have a high-performance floor, and we expect him to hang around throughout the season regardless. This 200 to 1 number at Caesars is flat-out wrong, as all other sportsbooks have this at 60 to 1.
Did you know that the NASCAR Cup Series started way back in 1949? With such a long and illustrious history, those new to the sport may have questions. To help with that, we've compiled this list of commonly asked questions along with their answers.
The NASCAR Cup Series drivers with the most championships are Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, who both won 7 championships. Petty won his last title in 1979, while Earnhardt won his last in 1994.
The number of tracks that host a NASCAR Cup Series race each year can vary slightly, but typically there are around 30 tracks that host a race during the season. However, this number can change slightly due to factors such as track renovations or the addition/removal of tracks from the schedule.
The car manufacturer that has won the most NASCAR Cup Series titles is Chevrolet, with 39 championships.
The debate over who is the greatest NASCAR driver of all time is a highly subjective one, as it is difficult to compare drivers from different eras due to changes in technology, rules, and competition. However, some of the most commonly mentioned names as potential candidates for the title of the greatest NASCAR driver of all time include Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and David Pearson, among others. Ultimately, it is up to individual interpretation, and there is no definitive answer.
NASCAR is exciting to watch for several reasons. One reason is the speed and power of the cars, which can reach over 200 miles per hour on the track. Another reason is the close competition, with drivers often racing bumper-to-bumper and making daring passes to gain positions. The strategy and teamwork involved in pit stops, tire changes, and fueling add another layer of excitement. Additionally, the unpredictable nature of the sport can make for thrilling finishes and unexpected winners. Finally, the colorful personalities of the drivers and the passionate fan base add to the overall excitement and energy of NASCAR events.