Last Updated Nov 06, 2022, 4:45 PM

NASCAR Cup Series Championship Picks, Predictions, Odds

After Sunday’s Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway, a champion for the 2022 season will be crowned. Four drivers are eligible to win the championship, but for the first time in 10 years, we may have a different race winner from the season winner. 

The reason?

All cars are now equal with 670 horsepower. No Championship 4 cheats with extra horsepower as we’ve had the last nine seasons. The scales aren’t tilted now, but I don’t think the sportsbooks know this as the odds to win odds are super heavy on the Championship 4 drivers obviously due to past history.

The NextGen car is an equal opportunity monster that had 19 different winners on the season and Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Blaney weren’t one of them. Those two outsiders should be bet as if they can win this week.

CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING RESOURCES

Date: Sunday, November 6, 2022
Venue: Phoenix Raceway
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Distance: 312 miles
Laps: 312
Network-Time: NBC - 3:00 p.m. ET
Defending Champion: Kyle Larson

CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP PICKS & PREDICTIONS

Here’s a look at what I’m thinking for Sunday’s Phoenix race with odds order courtesy of BetMGM sportsbooks:

CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS 

Chase Elliott (5/2) - The 2020 Cup Champion, won by him at Phoenix, is the favorite to win because of his savviness, and his calm, cool, and collected nature. For his resume, I would state he led the series with five wins this season and none were on any of the six road course tracks. The NextGen car was tough to figure out, but they did it best with the most wins. My only problem is that I’m charting an 11th at Phoenix in March, 14th at Richmond in April, runner-up at New Hampshire, and fifth at the fall race at Richmond. Consistent and good but not great as he’s been at other types of tracks. 

Chase Elliott will likely close as the betting favorite for Sunday's race. (Getty)

Christopher Bell (7/2) - He’s the hard-charging Toyota that showed off his skills again last week at Martinsville, but I think most important is his win at New Hampshire in July. Phoenix-Richmond-New Hampshire, that’s the drill for this week and every week at those tracks forever. He won an Xfinity Series race at Phoenix in 2018. And now he can be a Cup Champion. Bizarre, so fast, so young, and we’ve got two of them racing for the title.

“What a dream come true to be racing in the Final 4,” Bell said. “I’m so honored to be in this position and hope to bring home another championship to JGR.” 

Joey Logano (4/1) - The 2018 Cup Champion is a two-time winner at Phoenix with seven top-fives and 721 laps led. This is a great track for him. He was eighth in the March Phoenix race, one of the early races using the NextGen car. The last comparable track most recently raced at was Richmond in August and he finished sixth after leading a race-high 222 laps. 

Ross Chastain (4/1) - Is this his time? A NASCAR Cup Championship? In his first season racing for Trackhouse Racing? Chastain the champion? He was runner-up in the spring race at Phoenix. I think before we bet him to win we have to ask ourselves if all his scores are settled. He’s drawn the ire of at least 10 drivers for his over-aggressive driving. He’s dialed it down and hasn’t won since Talladega in April, but he’s quite aware of the damage done. The question is whether a driver is willing to exact revenge during the championship race. Who would have the nerve to do this? But at the same time, it’s the best time because his actions caused the problem so why let him win the title? If you don’t do anything as a driver who has been harmed by his aggression, you’re allowing it to happen again by not doing anything. He needs to drive with more respect, but man I love the way he rolls.  

Kyle Larson (12/1) - He won this race last season and I feel like he’s more comfortable with the NextGen car than ever right now in race No. 36. He has a 12.4 average finish in 16 starts with six top-fives and 181 laps led.

Denny Hamlin (16/1) - He is the last driver to win a Season Finale that didn’t win a season title with it. That was at Homestead in 2013. This is a track that fits him well – two wins, 16 top-fives, and 854 laps led. It’s in line with him having lots of success at Richmond and New Hampshire. The NextGen car didn’t allow him to crush the smaller tracks as he usually has done throughout his career. Sure he’d love to win his first season title and time is running out, but he has three Daytona 500 wins, and Cup Champions Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart both never won NASCAR’s biggest race.    

“We’re obviously disappointed to not have a shot at the championship, but we have a lot to be proud of,” Hamlin said. “It’s been a crazy season for us with a lot of things being thrown at us and I feel like we fought through a lot. We did all that we could last weekend to give ourselves a shot and just missed out by a few points. We still have a lot to race for this weekend. We’re fifth right now in the drivers’ and owners’ points, so we want to hold on to that. With Christopher (Bell) in the Championship 4, we want to do what we can to help him and the 20 team, so it’s definitely still an important weekend for us and JGR as a whole to finish off strong.”

Kevin Harvick (18/1) - There is no one better at Phoenix Raceway’s 1-mile layout ever. That’s all-time. He is a walking statue at Phoenix Raceway, the place he visited often in his early years of racing. In 39 Cup starts at Phoenix, he leads all drivers with an 8.7 average finish, nine wins, 18 top-fives, and 1,663 laps led. He won his 2014 Cup Championship by winning the Finale at Homestead. What does winning a championship say about you, Mr. Harvick?

“I think it says a lot about our team,” Harvick said. “For me, leaving RCR and coming to SHR was a huge risk, and breaking out of my comfort zone and being open-minded to new people and new cars and new things is something I’ve always looked back on and said, ‘That’s why that change was good.’ Don’t ever give up on the evolution and the change of what you need to do to progress with the sport because our sport has an incredible progression rate, as far as how the car progresses, how the rules progress, how the tires progress, how the team progresses, how your driving style progresses – it’s kind of evolve or die, and I think that’s important to remember.”

Ryan Blaney (18/1) - He is the beneficiary of no extra horsepower given to the Championship 4 drivers. He had the best car in the spring race leading a race-high 143 laps and finishing fourth. Four top-fives in 13 Cup starts with 320 laps led. He’s good here. The last two seasons of Season Finale’s at Phoenix have seen Championship 4 drivers 1-2-3-4 in 2020 and last season they were all top-fives with Blaney crashing the party in fourth-place and leading 33 laps with less car. All equal now and Blaney has a list of names all in this race he owes a shove or punt to. There were 19 different drivers to win a race this season and Blaney wasn’t one of them. Blaney was passive, and let terms be dictated to him without retaliation. He’s built this up all season and now it's his time to do the dictating. Crash this Championship party like no one has done in 10 years. The best price I’ve seen on him to win is 20-to-1 at William Hill sportsbooks. Blaney’s revenge, let’s go!

William Byron (25/1) - He won a 2017 Xfinity Series race at Phoenix and has four top-10s in nine Cup starts. He was 18th in the spring race after winning the first stage and leading 12 laps. He’s led 27 laps in his Cup career at Phoenix. 

Chase Briscoe (33/1) - He won his first career Cup race at Phoenix in March but that was it. He had some nice runs late in the season and had a chance to advance to the Championship 4 last week, but I’m willing to call it all what it was and it was awesome. Fresh blood in the sport and he held his own against the bullies. I wonder if he has some more confidence there after winning the spring race.

“I definitely think it adds some confidence just knowing that we’ve won there, but so much has changed,” Briscoe said. “It’s not like our car that was so good there the first race is going to be any good going back. If we did the same setup, we’d be so far in left field, so I think it helps knowing that we’ve won there, but it’s still going to be a challenge. Hopefully we’re in that situation after practice and qualifying, where we’re talking about defending the win. Anytime you go to a racetrack where you’ve won before, it makes a difference. It’s nice to go back there and try to defend that spring race and hopefully finish the season with another win.”

Martin Truex Jr. (33/1) - If all the cars are running 670 horsepower and equal, then this is a driver to target. I’ve seen as high as 60-to-1 at Circa Sports. Sure, he finished 35th in the spring race, but Phoenix has been a great place for him finishing sixth or better there in six of his last 10 starts which includes a win last spring and a runner-up in this race last season. My case for him winning despite no wins in 2022 is that he was fourth at New Hampshire in July after leading a race-high 172 laps and then finished seventh at Richmond in August, the two tracks I’ve put together for all Phoenix races to find the winner for the last 30 years. The correlation is strong with all three tracks no matter the era of car being used. If a driver is good on one of them, they’re usually good on all of them. Last chance to get a win in 2022, how’s he feeling?

“I’m excited about the weekend,” Truex said. “This year has been such a grind and really up and down for our team especially. James (Small, crew chief) and everyone on our 19 team and everybody back at the shop have put in a ton of effort to get us in a better spot than where we were when we went to Phoenix in the spring. We want to go out on a high note to end the season here, but we’re definitely ready for some time off to reset and get ready to go at it again next year.”

Kyle Busch (40/1) - He’s got three Cup wins at Phoenix, 12 top-fives, and 1,190 laps led. And he’s got a bunch of other wins in other lower-level series, a couple before he even had a state driver’s license. Phoenix is like a home track for him. Winning? What a way for him to go out at JGR in his last race.

“I really like Phoenix, and we won there a couple of times since they changed the start-finish line,” Busch said. “So much has changed since then. It’s entirely different now, so maybe we can still be good when we go back there, hopefully, but a lot’s been going on in the development of everybody’s cars this year with the NextGen car, so we will see where we stack up and how much has changed since we were there in March. We’ll see what we have this weekend with our M&M’S Camry and we would like nothing better than to spoil the fun and take another trophy home. It’s been quite a ride with M&M’s over the years and it’s pretty cool to have a lot of images of Rowdy Nation along for the ride. We’ll give them all we can this weekend.”

CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP LONG SHOTS

Tyler Reddick (40/1) - I’ve seen him as high as 60-to-1 at Circa Sports. This is his last race for RCR and car owner Richard Childress wasn’t happy how the whole deal went down, but this is worth taking a bite of. He was third in the spring race at Phoenix. He won three races this season. This team has their act together. One final hurrah with the gang?

Bubba Wallace (50/1) - He’s back after a one-week suspension for road rage in Las Vegas. I am sure he learned his lesson. In nine Cup starts at Phoenix he has a 21st-place average finish with no top-10s.

Aric Almirola (80/1) - He’s been 13th or better in his last five Phoenix starts and was 12th in the spring. His best finishes there were fourth-place, twice. He thinks we’ll see a more competitive Season Finale than usual.

“There has been so much parity this year that I think you’ll see a lot of non-playoff drivers leading the championship race,” Almirola said. “It has happened more this year than ever before. The guys in the final four this year will have to take that into consideration, too. You’re not just racing against three other guys. You’re up against at least 25 other competitive cars that will still race you hard because they have the speed. I think you’ll see a much different season finale than we’re used to and I hope it puts on a great show for the fans.” 

Brad Keselowski (80/1) - This is one driver who doesn’t want the season to end because after a season of struggles his team has found speed. He doesn’t have a Cup win at Phoenix but he has eight top-fives in 26 starts. He was 23rdin the spring race but his RFK Racing teammate was 10th. Both are faster now than then.

“We’ve got one more chance to steal a win with this 6 team this season, and the last couple of weeks I think have been an indicator as to how strong we’ve been as of late,” Keselowski said. “Phoenix wasn’t our best of races in the spring, but returning to tracks for a second time has been huge for us in continuing to build our organization. It’s a long season to get to this point, and we’re ready for the challenge out West.”

Alex Bowman (100/1) - He’s back after a few weeks out due to a concussion, and this price is very aggressive for a Hendrick car. This is the Tucson native’s home track but his only top-five on it happened in 2016 when he was a substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr and sat on the pole, led a race-high 194 laps, and finished sixth. He hasn’t led a lap since, but the price is attractive for a small bet.  

Daniel Suarez (100/1) - His teammate is running for the title and someday Suarez might be there, but 2022 has already been a success for him with his first career Cup win. He’s won twice at Phoenix in the lower-level NASCAR Series in Trucks and the short-lived NASCAR Mexico Series. 

Austin Cindric (150/1) - His first Cup start at Phoenix in March didn’t go so well with 24th but I know this guy loves this track because he's a two-time Xfinity winner on it and won the 2020 Xfinity title on it. This is a massive price for a driver who has outstanding Team Penske equipment as Logano and Blaney have. I say to bet him only on road courses and superspeedways but these odds are too good to pass up and you’ll spend $5 on worse things this weekend. So what the heck?

Ross Chastain is listed as a 4/1 betting choice to win Sunday's finale. (Getty)

CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #12 Ryan Blaney (20/1)
2) #1 Ross Chastain (4/1)
3) #19 Martin Truex Jr. (60/1)
4) #20 Christopher Bell (7/2)
5) #22 Joey Logano (4/1) 

Odds Subject to Change 

NASCAR CUP SERIES
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