It has been an unpredictable 2022 NASCAR season, one full of surprise winners and value-laden drivers mixing it up with the sport’s elite. But all of that volatility will be put to the test in the circuit’s championship finale. Take this into account when you make your NASCAR championship bets: The finale historically been dominated by the truism that one of the title contenders always wins.
At least that has been the case for eight consecutive years, including all five since the current “Championship 4” format was implemented prior to 2017. Given that the highest-finishing driver among the four remaining title contenders claims the crown on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, the surest way to the championship is through Victory Lane.
And this season features two drivers who have done just that: Chase Elliott and Joey Logano, who earned championships by claiming the finales in 2020 and 2018, respectively. They’re joined in the title chase by Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain. Those two were seen as mid-level drivers before the introduction of a new car in NASCAR’s top series helped level the playing field, and vaulted both into championship contention.
Elliott opened as the odds-on favorite to win the race, followed by Bell second and Logano and Chastain third. Here’s a breakdown of each title contender with reasons why bettors should both consider and avoid them. And don’t forget when you place your NASCAR championship bets that they will be competing amid a full field. That’s 36 drivers on the 1-mile, D-shaped oval.
NASCAR Championship Bet No. 1: Chase Elliott
Elliott (+240 at Caesars Sportsbook, which has a $1,250 promo for new customers) has been excellent at Phoenix recently, recording finishes of seventh or better in six of his past seven starts on the Desert Mile. That span that includes his title-clinching victory in 2020. In the first race with this “next-gen” car at Phoenix in March, he led 50 laps before fading to 11th. The issue with Elliott right now is that he hasn’t been running very well overall; in his four previous races leading into Phoenix, his best finish has been 10th.
No. 2: Christopher Bell
This new car, which uses parts made by common vendors rather than manufactured by individual teams, has been a game-changer for Bell (+325 at BetMGM, $1,000 promo), who finished 12th in series points last season. This year he has won three times, including last weekend at Martinsville, Va., to reach the title round. But Bell never has led a lap at Phoenix, where his best finish in five career starts has been ninth. He placed 26th in the March race in Arizona that marked the track’s first event with the new car.
No. 3: Joey Logano
The savvy veteran of the bunch, Logano (+450 at FanDuel, $1,000 promo) clinched his berth in the championship round with a victory three weeks ago at Las Vegas. Last week he finished sixth on the short track in Martinsville. Among the four title contenders, Logano has the best record at Phoenix. He has two wins, the most recent in 2020, and top-10 finishes in six of his past seven starts there. He also was eighth in the March race at Phoenix, where he has led 425 laps since 2019.
No. 4: Ross Chastain
The true outsider of the group, Chastain (+400 at WynnBET, $100 promo) never had finished better than 20th in the standings and never won at NASCAR’s top level until this season, when he used the new car to record two wins and a circuit-best 20 top-10s. He has been fantastic over the past month, with top-four finishes in his last four oval-track races. Phoenix, though, isn’t his best track. In eight career starts, he has just one top-10. That was a runner-up finish in March, the first race there with the current car.
NASCAR Championship Bet No. 5: Party Crashers
If there was ever a season to buck history and see an outsider crash the championship party, it’s this one. The top contender there is Kyle Larson (+1400 to win at BetRivers, $500 promo). The reigning champ, eliminated from title contention four weeks ago, has gone 1-2 in his past two starts and won at Phoenix last fall. Veteran Kevin Harvick (+1700) leads all drivers with nine career wins at Phoenix. He has been top-10 there in a ridiculous 18 consecutive starts.
Knocked out of title contention last week, Denny Hamlin (+1700) has finished top-five in five of his past seven starts at Phoenix. That span that includes a victory in 2019. And if you’re feeling particularly bold, there’s always Chase Briscoe (+3000). He recorded a shocker of a victory at Phoenix in the spring. He then managed to hang around the periphery of title contention until the past two weeks.
Click here for more on sports betting in Arizona as you plan your NASCAR championship bets.