NASCAR: New championship favorite emerges before Talladega

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

As expected, there is a new favorite to win the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship ahead of what should be a chaotic playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. 

Through four races on the four-round, 10-race 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoff schedule, four different drivers have spent time as the betting favorites to win the championship, with the newest one having emerged following his victory in Sunday’s round of 12 opener at Texas Motor Speedway.

About an hour so after the NBC team commented about how he and the No. 24 team hadn’t been running nearly as well as they had run during the regular season, Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron reminded everybody that he hasn’t gone anywhere, earning his first career playoff win following a late pass on 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace.

The win is Byron’s sixth of the season, three more than any other driver, and it gives him 41 playoff points, more than any other driver despite his five-playoff-point penalty (and subsequent two-playoff-point deduction because of his drop in the overall regular season standings).

Additionally, Byron is the only driver locked into the round of 8, meaning he is the only one of the 12 remaining championship contenders who doesn’t have to worry about the points effects of the potential calamity in the two “wild card” races remaining in the round of 12 at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

All of this, coupled with the inherent volatility of the Cup Series championship market under the modern playoff format, meant that Byron was poised to become the betting favorite to win the championship, and he indeed has.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is issuing an instant $200 to all fans who place a $5 bet, lists Byron as the +330 favorite to win this year’s title.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. entered the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as the favorite after winning the regular season championship.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson took over after winning the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway and retained his status after the following race at Kansas Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin had been the favorite heading into the Texas race, having won the round of 16 finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While Byron is the new favorite, that too is subject to change, though with his round of 8 spot secured, it’s hard to see his odds changing much throughout the rest of the round of 12.

Additionally, he has won at all three tracks on the round of 8 schedule — Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway — and he is the most recent winner at Phoenix Raceway, which is the site of the Championship 4.

Odds and availability are subject to change, so lock in your $200 now before it’s too late!

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

The YellaWood 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Talladega Superspeedway beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 1. If you have yet to start a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!