The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship race was the first in the ten years of the current playoff format in which the Cup Series champion didn’t win the final race of the year. Ryan Blaney, the Cup Series champion, actually ended up in second place, 1.230 seconds behind Ross Chastain, who paid off on +7000 odds to win at Phoenix Raceway. Chastain took the lead from Denny Hamlin on Lap 282 after a restart. William Byron had taken pole position and won the opening stage, but Kevin Harvick, who started in third place, and Chastain, who started in eighth, pushed him hard. Byron had to use the high line going through the corners to keep Harvick from passing him. Now, let’s take a way-too-early look at the NASCAR Betting Odds for drivers to win next year’s title.
NASCAR Betting Odds: 2024 Championship Odds
Kyle Larson +500William Byron +600Martin Truex Jr, Denny Hamlin +800Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell +1000Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott +1400Chris Buescher, Joey Logano +1800Brad Keselowski, Ty Gibbs +2200Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Josh Berry +5000
Chase Briscoe +6000John Hunter Nemechek +8000Michael McDowell, Daniel Hemric, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith +15000Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Austin Cindric, Ryan Preece +20000Justin Haley +25000Harrison Burton, Corey Lajoie, Todd Gilliland +50000
NASCAR Championship Race Lines
Ryan Blaney ended up winning three Cup Series races in 2023, but it was consistency in the other races that kept him high enough in the points standings to get into the playoffs and then survive round after round.
Kyle Larson won four races among 15 top-five finishes – but he also failed to finish eight races. He finished second behind Blaney in the Cup Series standings, but it will be interesting to see how much more he develops with a more consistent performance style.
William Byron won six Cup Series races and led 95 laps in the championship race. On the season he had 21 top-ten finishes. However, once Blaney unleashed a superior car, Byron simply could not keep up down the stretch. Even so, 2023 was an outstanding move up for him.
Christopher Bell could not finish the Cup Series Championship race, as a brake rotor going bad on Lap 108 ended his day early. Even so, he made it back to the Championship 4 for the second straight year. His average finish in 2023 (12.9) was a career best.
Denny Hamlin has finished no worse than fifth in the Cup Series standings for the last five years, but he has also missed out on the Championship 4 for two straight years. He came in eighth in Phoenix, a microcosm for a season that could have been so much more successful.
Chris Buescher led the Cup Series Championship race for 18 laps, but engine troubles near the end kept him from mounting more of a challenge. Even so, he finished fifth; for 2023, he won three races, had nine top-five finishes and 17 top-tens.
Bubba Wallace came in tenth in the Cup Series Championship and ended up in tenth place in the end-of-year standings, a career high. Along with Tyler Reddick, Wallace has established 23XI as one of the top organizations in the Cup Series going into 2024.
Tyler Reddick set a career high with 16 top-ten finishes in 2023, with two victories, in his first year with 23XI Racing.
Martin Truex Jr started on the front row in the Cup Series Championship but ended up settling for sixth place in the final standings. He did win the Cup Series regular-season championship and picked up wins after a 2022 in which he didn’t win a single race, so things are looking up for 2024.
Ross Chastain won in Nashville but then saw the rest of the regular season produce disappointments. He did perk back up during the playoffs, and his win in Phoenix gives him momentum going into 2024.
NASCAR Championship Race Lines
Ryan Blaney, the current 203 NASCAR Champion
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