Four of the eight remaining drivers are set to compete for a NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix Raceway in three weeks. Who are the longshots?
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is set to get the semifinal round of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs underway this Sunday afternoon with the South Point 400.
Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron, who enters the round of 8 as the championship favorite, is the reigning winner at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Las Vegas, Nevada, having won the March race at the track.
Byron, who leads all drivers in wins this year with six, is one of four remaining drivers who own victories at all four tracks remaining on this year’s schedule: Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
To no one’s surprise, the other three drivers — teammate Kyle Larson and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin — are given the next shortest odds to win this year’s title. RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher, like these three drivers, owns three victories this season and is listed fifth.
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But in every round of the playoffs so far this season, one of the longshots has advanced.
For example, a driver listed outside of the top 12 in the round of 16 advanced to the round of 12, and a driver listed outside of the top 8 in the round of 12 advanced to the round of 8.
While we already discussed Buescher being listed fifth, which other drivers are poised to pull off a round of 8 surprise and advance to the Championship 4?
NOTE: Odds listed are odds to win the championship.
NASCAR championship longshots: No. 1 – Christopher Bell (+1200)
Doesn’t it seem like Christopher Bell is on pole every week? His Las Vegas pole marks his fifth front row start and fourth pole in seven playoff races, yet he still hasn’t been able to win a race since April.
He is the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver not listed in the top four, yet he is the only remaining driver — Toyota and overall — who made it to last year’s Championship 4. As he demonstrated last year, he knows how to win when it counts.
NASCAR championship longshots: No. 2 – Ryan Blaney (+1100)
Ryan Blaney has been to the round of 8 on four previous occasions, but he has never managed to make it to the Championship 4. He was a round of 12 longshot to advance to the round of 8 in what has been an underwhelming season for Team Penske, but he got it done. Can he go one step further?
NASCAR championship longshots: No. 3 – Tyler Reddick (+1000)
It is surprising to see Tyler Reddick listed where he is, given the speed that he and his 23XI Racing team have shown as of late. 1.5-mile ovals have been their bread and butter, and Reddick is always one of the favorites at Homestead in particular.
Tune in to NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 15 for the live broadcast of the South Point 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Start a free trial of FuboTV now if you have not already done so!