2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championships Odds and Prediction
Even though 2 races remain in the regular season, including this weekend in Darlington, the playoff picture is already pretty clear for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship.
13 of the 16 postseason spots are already secured, thanks to the ‘win and you’re in’ playoff format. Unless there’s another first-time winner at Darlington or in the regular-season finale in Richmond on September 9, those last 3 berths will go to the drivers that have the highest season point totals.
Bookmakers have already put up odds on who will win the playoff championship, which will be decided by a 10-race schedule that begins September 17 in Chicago and ends with the Ford Ecoboost 400 in Miami on November 19. The 16-driver field will be narrowed to 12 after the first 3 races of the playoffs, to 8 after the 6th race, and to the Final 4 after the 9th event.
Beginning this year, regular-season performance has a greater impact on the playoffs. Bonus points earned by victories in stages, races and finish in the overall standings now carry over from round to round in the playoffs, excluding the championship race in Miami. That means guys series leader Martin Truex, Jr. will hold a more significant advantage than usual in the first 3 rounds of the playoffs.
Now that we’ve got the fine print out of the way, let’s take a look at Bovada’s NASCAR Cup betting odds, break down the top contenders and figure out where the best value lies.
2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Betting Odds
Thanks to the playoff format and the unpredictability of auto racing, there’s no clear-cut favorite to win the NASCAR Cup championship.
From a probability of winning standpoint, Truex Jr. (+300) and Kyle Busch (+350) are the safest bets you’ll find on Bovada’s NASCAR Cup betting odds. But 3 other drivers (Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick) pay +700, and Brad Keselowski is also priced under 10:1.
Even though just 16 drivers will qualify for the playoffs, 21 drivers are listed on the title odds because of those 3 playoff spots that are still up for grabs going into the last 2 races of the season.
Here’s a complete list of Bovada’s NASCAR Cup betting odds, as of Wednesday evening:
- Martin Truex, Jr.: +300
- Kyle Busch: +350
- Jimmie Johnson: +700
- Kyle Larson: +700
- Kevin Harvick: +700
- Brad Keselowski: +900
- Denny Hamlin: +1400
- Chase Elliott: +1800
- Matt Kenseth: +2500
- Joey Logano: +3300
- Clint Bowyer: +4000
- Ryan Blaney: +4000
- Kurt Busch: +5000
- Erik Jones: +5000
- Jamie McMurray: +7500
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: +7500
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: +10000
- Austin Dillon: +10000
- Ryan Newman: +10000
- Daniel Suarez: +15000
- Kasey Kahne: +20000
Martin Truex, Jr.
If you like betting on feel-good stories, Truex is your man. The son of a commercial fisherman, Truex looked destined to as recently as 4 years ago. That’s when, after finally appearing to secure a playoff spot in the Chase, Truex’s Michael Waltrip Racing team was penalized for appearing to manipulate races and Truex lost his playoff spot, his sponsor and his team.
Truex rebounded to land a ride with Furniture Row Racing in time for the 2014 season, but then found out shortly after that his long-time girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, had been diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. The strength that both of them have shown to get this far – Truex on the verge of the 2017 regular-season points championship, and Pollex continuing her fight against cancer – is inspirational and reason enough to support Truex with both your heart and your wager.
He’s also a pretty good driver. With 2 races to go in the regular season, Truex holds a 101-point edge on Kyle Busch for the top spot in the standings, thanks to a series-high 4 victories and 10 Top-10 finishes. If Truex can hold on to win the regular-season points title, he’ll carry 50 bonus points into the playoffs – which would be quite a head start on the rest of the field.
While Truex may flinch a little in the spotlight of the favorite’s role, Busch almost certainly won’t. He’s already got a NASCAR Cup title on his resume, capturing the championship 2 years ago, and has won 40 of the 450 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series races he’s competed in his career.
Busch is a pretty polarizing guy and won’t have the same type of crowd support that a guy like Truex or Jimmie Johnson will receive. But Busch actually seems to thrive on being the bad guy and will be all too happy to play spoiler to Truex and other fan favorites in the playoffs.
No list of Cup series contenders is complete without a mention of Johnson, even if he’s having a poor season by his lofty standards. We get a fat +700 price on the 7-time champion because he’s just 11th in the points standings going into this weekend and hasn’t even finished 4 of his last 11 races.
However, Johnson won last year’s Cup title after a mediocre regular season, and he’s got a that will be used in the playoffs. And with 3 victories already this year and a chance to earn another 1 before the regular season ends, he’ll come into the playoffs with more bonus points than the typical 11th-place finisher might have.
Sleepers To Watch
If Bowyer can get into the playoffs – and it’s a big ‘if’ right now, since he’s currently on the outside looking in – he’d be a tremendous value if you grab him now at +4000. He’s been a contender for the Cup in the past, finishing second in 2012 and third 10 years ago.
Again, it’s a pretty big roll of the dice to bet Bowyer right now. Regular-season race winners automatically get into the playoffs, meaning 13 of the 16 post-season spots are already locked up, and Bowyer may need to win at Darlington or Richmond in order to get invited to the dance. But at +4000, you may still want to take your chances on a driver who is 10th overall in the regular-season standings.
While Bowyer probably needs to win 1 of the last 2 races of the season to get into the playoffs, Kenseth, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray look pretty safe to make it as long as no other first-time winners claim 1 of the remaining postseason spots.
Of those 3, I think Kenseth is the best balance of legitimate threat to win the Cup series title and value on the betting odds. Elliott has 2 more Top-10 finishes than Kenseth on the year (13-11), but Kenseth actually has more Top-5s (7-6) and pays +2500, compared to Elliott’s +1800. And while McMurray may look pretty tempting at +7500, you have to be realistic about the chances of a guy who has won just 1 race in the last 7 years.
Kenseth is also motivated. He’s currently and, at 45 years old, probably needs an impressive playoff showing to keep his career alive.
As we just discussed, you can find a reason to bet several different drivers in the 16-team field.
A Truex victory would be the perfect Hollywood ending to a dream season for a guy who has had a nightmarish last few years, Busch looks like the classic spoiler, and it’s hard to turn down the chance at a huge payday by betting on Bowyer, Kenseth or any of the other drivers yet to clinch a spot in the playoff.
He’s already in the playoff field, he’s not at that big of a disadvantage when it comes to bonus points, and he came out of nowhere to win it last year.
Buying on Johnson now is like buying stocks in a proven company at its lowest point. More often than not, that stock will rise back to its usual heights, and this seems like a great chance to cash in.