2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Preview and Picks
On Sunday, a season-long battle will culminate at Phoenix Raceway to decide the NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Last week, Ryan Blaney cashed a winning ticket at Martinsville Speedway in the Xfinity 500 to earn a bid to the championship finale. Blaney, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, and William Byron are the drivers that will be competing for the championship this Sunday. Larson is the only former champion from that group, so there is a good opportunity for the Cup Series to crown a first-time champion when the checkered flag waves.
While all eyes will be on the championship race this Sunday, Phoenix Raceway will yield the last opportunity of the season for NASCAR bettors. We know the four championship drivers are competing at the highest level, which has been evident by their playoff journey. Not to mention, a championship contender has won at Phoenix in each of the three years that it has hosted the championship finale. However, that does not guarantee that a championship contender will win on Sunday. As a result, we must take a look at recent trends, historical data, and other handicapping angles to decide the best bets for Sunday''s Cup Series Championship!
Phoenix Raceway: Betting Notes
- Kevin Harvick has the most wins (9) all-time at Phoenix Raceway. Harvick’s last victory at Phoenix was in 2018.
- Kyle Busch (3), Joey Logano (3), Denny Hamlin (2), Kyle Larson, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, and Martin Truex Jr are all former winners at Phoenix.
- Kevin Harvick has finished inside the Top 9 positions in his last 20 starts at Phoenix.
- Kyle Larson has finished 9th or better in eight of the last nine starts at Phoenix.
- Ryan Blaney has finished 4th or better in each of his last four starts at Phoenix.
- Chase Briscoe has finished 7th or better in each of his last three starts at Phoenix.
- The eventual race winner has started inside the Top 10 in 11 of the last 12 races at Phoenix.
- The eventual race winner has started from the pole in three of the last six races at Phoenix.
If we look at the last two years of races with the Next Gen Car at Phoenix, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick have consistently been the best two drivers. While Harvick will be making his last start on Sunday and is definitely a fan favorite, the #4 has not exactly shown winning speed throughout the year. Harvick has been competitive, but he has not shown the “elite” top 5 speed on a consistent basis that is usually indicative of nearing victory lane. With that being said, if there were a place for Harvick to turn back the hands in time, it would be Phoenix. Personally, I believe Harvick has sharper betting value in H2H formats as opposed to the outright win.
Based on the way drivers have performed on the short tracks this season, I would be ignorant to ignore the success of Kyle Larson and William Byron throughout the year. Both drivers have been dominant this season. Larson has been the best on the short tracks this year and I believe he will be a big threat to pick up his 2nd championship. However, I am going with YRB, aka Young Ryan Blaney, to get the job done. I believe Blaney and the #12 team have found speed in recent weeks and are peaking at the right time. Not to mention, Blaney has been extremely fast on recent trips to Phoenix.
If a non-championship driver manages to get a surprise victory this weekend, I believe the most likely candidates would be Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, or Tyler Reddick, based on numerous handicapping factors!
Jay's Nascar Cup Series Championship Picks
Favorite: Ryan Blaney +350
Dark Horse: Kevin Harvick +1200