The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs have officially started, with 16 drivers left who are battling out for the ultimate prize. The first race of the postseason, the Cook Out Southern 500, was absolutely wild and it was actually a non-playoff driver who came out victorious in Eric Jones, who just edged out Denny Hamlin. It was a forgettable night for Chase Elliott though, the favorite to win it all after taking home the regular season crown. He crashed in the first stage. Despite the poor result, Elliott still sits at +350 odds in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Futures, followed by Hamlin (+650), Kyle Larson (+650), Ross Chastain (+700), and Joey Logano (+800). Logano is currently at the top of the playoff standings after the first weekend, while Elliott is down in ninth. But, a lot can change with 10 races to go, with the finale set for November 6th at the Phoenix Raceway.
Before we get into the analysis, preview, and prediction for who will win the playoffs when it's all said and done, make sure to check out our Before we get into the preview, odds, and predictions, make sure to check out our how to bet on NASCAR page.
NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Odds
How it Works
The NASCAR Playoffs are slightly confusing in terms of rules. Essentially, four drivers will get eliminated every three weeks. If a driver wins any of those three races, they automatically move on. Who remains is based on the standings. Basically, by the time Phoenix rolls around, the field goes down from 16 at the start to just four. It's also important to note that the regular season winner has won the playoffs in three of the last five years. That already puts Elliott at an advantage. This weekend's race heads to Kansas City for the Hollywood Casino 400. Bristol is the final race of the round of 16 before four drivers get cut.
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Futures Preview
Elliott is the frontrunner and it makes total sense. He won the regular season by a whole 130 points, winning four different races and securing 10 top-five finishes. Needless to say, Elliott was nothing short of outstanding. He's no stranger to winning the playoffs either, snatching the Cup from Kevin Harvick in 2020. Yes, it was a poor start for Elliott, but as we all know, he's more than capable of bouncing back and living up to expectations. Don't be surprised if that happens this weekend.
Hamlin (+650) had a respectable regular season as well, finishing with two first-place finishes and six top-five showings. He looked really solid at Darlington, ending up in second spot behind Jones. He's an intriguing pick for the Hollywood Casino 400, winning every seventh race this season and has won multiple times on this speedway in the last 10 races. When it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Futures, he's made the final stage in Phoenix in back-to-back seasons, finishing in third in 2021 and fourth in 2020. Definitely, an experienced driver who could go all the way. He's close to winning a Cup.
Joey Logano (+800) is a guy who can't be slept on, either. He ended the regular season on a tear, finishing within the top six in four of his last five races. Darlington saw Logano finish in fourth place and he currently sits at the top of the playoff standings ahead of race number two. The remaining tracks in the playoffs are ones where Logano typically drives well, too. He's won at Las Vegas twice (where the round of 8 race is) and he's also come out victorious in Phoenix before.
Kevin Harvick is a bit of a longshot at +1800, but there could be some value. He was one of the hottest drivers at the tail-end of the regular season, winning back-to-back races in August at Michigan and Richmond. Harvick has also been around for a hot minute and against a relatively young group of drivers, that experience may serve him well.
There are countless drivers who could truly go all the way. While many would pick Chase Elliott in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Futures, I really like Logano. As previously mentioned, the remaining tracks are places he's had no shortage of success in the past and he's already got a leg up with a slim lead in the playoff standings. Take Logano at +800.