NASCAR Championship Odds
August 25, 2018
By Micah Roberts
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The NASCAR Cup Series takes the week off before next weekend's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, so let's do an update on what the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has done with its 2018 odds to win the Championship.
Only two races are remaining until the playoffs start in Las Vegas and only nine of the 16 playoff position have been claimed by virtue of winning a race this season. But realistically the field is set unless any of the current drivers outside the top-16 win a race at Darlington or the following week at Indianapolis. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. sits in 17th place, 79 points behind 16th place occupied by Alex Bowman.
Superbook manager Ed Salmons posted the 2018 Championship odds shortly after the 2017 season completed and says he's only a couple legitimate losers for his bet shop.
"We took some decent size wagers on both Kyle (Busch) and Martin Truex, Jr. that would make us small losers if they win, but our biggest loser by far is Jimmie Johnson," Salmons said. "We had a guy very confident Johnson would bounce back this season and placed a large wager on him."
Johnson opened the season at 15-to-1 odds, around the time the bettor made the wager, but despite the heavy risk, Salmons has moved the seven-time Cup champion up to 40-to-1 odds. For the first time in Johnson's career he has yet to win a race this far into the season, but Salmons does think there's an upside for Johnson about to happen.
"The Chevies are getting more speed, you can see it happening weekly," he said. "I expect them to get better each week."
He referenced Chase Elliott's speed at Watkins Glen, which was the first Chevrolet win since Austin Dillon won the season-opening Daytona 500. Salmons is impressed with Elliott and thinks more wins are coming which is partly why he has him at 12-to-1 odds to win it all.
"Chase is years ahead of his age the way he drives," Salmons said.
Kyle Larson is another young Chevy driver searching for his first win of the season and Salmons has him listed as the fourth favored driver behind the Big-3.
"If Larson can get to the final four at Homestead, he'll give whoever the other three are some trouble," he said, noting that Larson has finished fifth, second and third in his last three Homestead starts.
Larson opened the season at 5-to-1 odds to win the Championship, long before any of us knew how much time it would take until the new Camaro would find speed.
As for the Big-3, Salmons said he would be surprised if two of the three didn't make it.
"They got such a big lead already with the playoff points that something significant will have to happen," he said.
Kevin Harvick has 40 playoff points, Kyle Busch 35 playoff points and Truex has 27. The next closest is Clint Bowyer with 10. That's a nice head start and those points carry over all the way until Homestead where the best finisher among the final four wins the Championship.
By the way, the best statistical driver at Homestead is Harvick with a 6.7 average finish in 17 starts, which includes a 2014 win which sealed his first career Cup Championship. He was runner-up in 2015, third in 2016 and fourth last season. Salmons said, "by far, Harvick is our best result."
That's a pretty sweet situation for the house to win the most with the most likely to win. Kyle Busch has the points, but Harvick leads the series in wins (7), top-fives (17, tied with Kyle), top-10s (20), stage wins (12) and playoff points (40).
The last four Cup Champions have won the Homestead race, the last being Truex last season.
Kyle Busch opened as the 9-to-2 favorite with Larson, Truex, and Harvick each initially set at 5-to-1 odds.
The major surprises this season, besides Chevrolet, was the Team Penske Fords not being close to the speed Stewart Haas Racing's Fords have found. Joey Logano opened the season at 8-to-1 odds and his only win on the season came at Talladega, where any driver can win. Brad Keselowski opened at 10-to-1 odds and has yet to win, not has new teammate Ryan Blaney who opened 30-to-1.
Here's a look at the Superbook's updated NASCAR Cup Series Championship odds:
Kevin Harvick 2/1 (970 points, 7 wins)
Kyle Busch 9/4 (1,003 points, 6 wins)
Martin Truex Jr. 4/1 (849 points, 4 wins)
Kyle Larson 10/1 )729 points, 0 wins)
Chase Elliott 12/1 (697 points, 1 win)
Clint Bowyer 15/1 (776 points, 2 wins)
Joey Logano 20/1 (768 points, 1 win)
Denny Hamlin 20/1 (707 points, 0 wins)
Erik Jones 20/1 (635 points, 1 win)
Ryan Blaney 20/1 (733 points, 0 wins)
Brad Keselowski 25/1 (730 points, 0 wins)
Kurt Busch 25/1 (796 points, 1 win)
Jimmie Johnson 40/1 (604 points, 0 wins)
Aric Almirola 50/1 (658 points, 0 wins)
Alex Bowman 200/1 (572 points, 0 wins)
Austin Dillon 300/1 (475 points, 1 win)
Everyone else is 200-to-1 or higher. Basically, they have no shot unless winning the a race between the next two weeks.