NASCAR: New championship favorite emerges after Darlington

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Darlington Raceway, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Darlington Raceway, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

There is a new betting favorite to win the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship following the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway.

Not since the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in mid-July has the betting favorite to win the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship changed.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson had been the favorite in the months leading up to that race, but after sweeping all three stages en route to his first career Loudon win, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. took over.

Up until the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway, Truex had not relinquished his spot as the betting favorite. But after a lackluster opening race of the postseason which saw the regular season champion drop from the points lead to sixth place in the standings, he now finds himself as the third favorite to win the title.

Unsurprisingly, it is Kyle Larson who again finds himself as the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship favorite.

Larson opened up the playoffs by winning the Cook Out Southern 500. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet had been fast over the last few months, but the win was his first points win since April, when he won at both Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. It ended a 17-race win drought.

Moving ahead of Truex as the new second favorite was Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron, the driver with whom Truex entered the playoffs tied on points. Byron technically scored more playoff points than Truex did during the regular season, but a penalty left the two tied heading into Darlington.

Following a fourth place finish behind Larson, 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick, and RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher, Byron is now in sole possession of the points lead with two races remaining in the round of 16. He leads the standings by one point over Larson.

Aside from Larson, Byron, and Truex, which other drivers are viewed as having the best chance to be crowned 2023 champion?

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is offering fans an instant $200 just for betting $5, lists the 2021 champion as the +400 favorite to become the 2023 champion.

What is interesting to note is that there is a significant drop-off from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (+650) and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch (+650) to the driver listed as the sixth favorite, Buescher (+1400).

Given the fact that there really haven’t been five drivers who have truly separated themselves from the rest of the pack this year, plus Buescher’s recent run of three straight oval wins, it’s hard to ignore just how undervalued the driver of the No. 17 Ford is at this stage in the playoffs.

Reddick, who sits third in the standings behind the Hendrick Motorsports duo, is also quite a bit undervalued at +2000. He is listed ahead of just four other drivers, two of whom are largely viewed as having no chance.

Odds and availability are subject to change. Lock in your $200 now!

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Tune in to USA Network at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, September 10 for the live broadcast of the Hollywood Casino 400 from Kansas Speedway. Start a free trial of FuboTV now if you have not already done so!