On Sunday, September 6th, NASCAR’s Playoffs begins with a 10 race postseason that features 16 drivers competing for the 2020 Cup Series championship. The first race in the Playoffs is the Southern 500 from Darlington Raceway, which is an annual race reshuffled this season due to covid.
The Playoffs consists of four rounds, different seeding than the driver standings and a few rules that might confuse some NASCAR fans.
Before we get to the 2020 Cup Series championship odds via the best NASCAR betting sites, here’s a quick recap of NASCAR’s Playoff format for the 2020 season:
NASCAR Playoffs Rules
The NASCAR Playoffs consists of 16 drivers, all who have either won a race or have earned more Playoff points than the rest of the field during the 26 race regular season.
The Cup Series postseason features 10 races spread over four rounds. After each round, the four lowest drivers in the Playoff standings will be eliminated until there’s just four drivers left competing in the Championship race at Phoenix.
Drivers earn points by winning stages and races during the Playoff rounds. A win in any round will automatically advance the driver to the next round. At the start of each round, the Playoff points will reset and then each driver’s accrued Playoff points will be added.
Whichever of the four Championship race drivers finish with the highest result will win the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
NASCAR Playoffs Standings
Heading into the Playoffs, Kevin Harvick is the top seed, followed by Denny Hamlin and the rest of the field:
Kevin Harvick (57pts)
Denny Hamlin (47pts)
Brad Keselowski (29pts)
Joey Logano (22pts)
Chase Elliott (20pts)
Martin Truex Jr (14pts)
Ryan Blaney (13pts)
Alex Bowman (9pts)
William Byron (7pts)
Austin Dillon (5pts)
Cole Custer (5pts)
Aric Almirola (5pts)
Clint Bowyer (4pts)
Kyle Busch (3pts)
Kurt Busch (1pts)
Matt DiBenedetto (0pts)
NASCAR Playoff Races
The 2020 NASCAR Postseason consists of the following races:
Round of 16
Bristol Motor Speedway
Round of 12
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Round of 8
Texas Motor Speedway
Previous NASCAR Cup Champions
The following is a list of previous Cup Series Champions since 2014 when NASCAR changed to its current Playoff format:
The following drivers are the odds on favorites to win the 2020 NASCAR Championship:
Kevin Harvick: To Win (+200) – Top 3 (-200)
Kevin Harvick enters the Playoffs as the man to beat. Harvick led all drivers in wins (7), Top 5s (17), Top 10s (21), Laps led (1117), stage wins (7) and Playoff points (57) during the regular season.
He dominated the field from Week 4 on and has won three of the last six NASCAR races on the season. Harvick has an average finish of 6.6 and is a threat to win every weekend.
As long as he doesn’t crash out in any round, Harvick can practically cruise to the Championship race at Phoenix, where he would be the overwhelming favorite to win.
Harvick won the Cup Series championship in 2014 and was runner up in 2015. He dropped to 8th in 2016, then has finished 3rd for the last three years.
Denny Hamlin: To Win (+300) – Top 3 (-150)
Denny Hamlin was the one driver to compete with Kevin Harvick all year long. Hamlin started off the season with his second straight Daytona 500 win and didn’t let up at all. He was second to Harvick in wins (6), Top 5s (15), stage wins (7), and Playoff points (47).
Hamlin has finished in the Top 6 for seven of the last eight races on the season, including two victories and three runner ups.
Denny has made the Playoffs every year since 2014, but has never finished higher than 3rd which came in 2014. He’s also never won a NASCAR championship under any format. Last year, Hamlin made the Championship race but ended up 4th.
This is Hamlin’s best chance to contend for the Cup Series title, but will have to upstage Harvick to do it.
Martin Truex Jr.: To Win (+700) – Top 3 (+135)
Martin Truex Jr. is the 2017 Cup champion, but only finished the regular season with just one win. That’s his lowest total since 2015. Last year, Truex had seven victories and finished 2nd to his teammate Kyle Busch for the championship. That was his second straight runner up finish in the Playoffs.
For the year, Truex’s numbers are down across the board. Yet, he’s really been racing well over the last two months. Truex has finished in the Top 4 for the last eight races of the regular season.
Although he hasn’t been able to pick up anymore checkered flags since Martinsville, Truex’s consistency has him 6th in the Playoff standings.
Truex offers betting value at +700 odds to win the Cup championship and to finish in the Top 3.
Chase Elliott: To Win (+750) – Top 3 (+150)
By time it’s all said and done, the 2020 season will be Chase Elliott’s best performance since coming up to the Cup Series in 2015. With 10 races to go, he’s almost matched all of his stats for last year when he ended up 10th in the Playoffs.
Elliott’s best finish came in 2017 when he ended up 5th overall. Yet, he didn’t have any wins that year.
The #9 car enters the Playoffs having finished in the Top 9 for six of the last seven races including a win at Daytona’s road course and a 2nd at Daytona’s trioval last weekend.
Like Truex, Elliott offers value for his Championship odds and his Top 3 odds.
Since the current Playoff format went into place (2014), Keselowski hasn’t fared as well as his peers. His best result was 4th in 2017. Over the last two years, Keselowski finished 8th.
Keselowski enters the Playoffs sitting 3rd and has a good chance to make a deep run in the postseason. He finished with 3 wins in the regular season, which was the 3rd best among all drivers. He was also 2nd in Top 10s (19) and stage wins (6).
Keselowski is the 2012 NASCAR champion, so he does have experience winning the sport’s biggest prize. However, he just didn’t perform well enough over the last few years to even make it to the Championship race.
This year, I think Keselowski has a solid shot at making it to the Championship race with tracks he’s raced well at. His +1000 odds offers more value than his Top 3 odds.
Kyle Busch: To Win (+1200) – Top 3 (+275)
Kyle Busch has won at least one race each season for the last 15 years. Last season, Busch wasn’t the best driver, but he found a way to win the Championship at Homestead by edging out Truex and Harvick for the win.
Unfortunately, the reigning Cup Series champion is in the midst of a 26 race winless streak and has just not fulfilled his potential all year long. He’s on pace to end up with his worst season stats since 2014.
Making matters worse for the two time NASCAR champ is that he comes into the Playoffs ranked 14th and needs a win or other drivers to perform badly to realistically move on to the Round of 8. Fortunately, the first round features three races that Busch has performed well at in his career.
With that said, if Busch can get one win then the rest of the field will take notice. Breaking out of his slump could put the #18 car in line for at least a Championship race appearance.
His value is with the Top 3 odds at +275.
Joey Logano: To Win (+1200) – Top 3 (+275)
Joey Logano won the Cup Series championship in 2018 and finished 5th last year. He’s made the Playoffs every year except for 2017, and has made it to the Round of 8 in each of those years.
I expect Logano to make it to the Round of 8 again, but I’m not sure he will qualify for the Championship race. Logano hasn’t won since prior to the covid shutdown. Both of his wins came in the first four weeks of the season. Since then, he hasn’t even finished runner up in any race.
Logano’s best chance at making it to the Round of 8 is winning at Las Vegas in the Round of 12 where he has won two of the last three events at that track including this year’s race in February.
Logano’s best hope of making it to the Championship race is winning at Martinsville in the Round of 8. He’s finished in the Top 8 for four of the last five Martinsville races including a win in the 2018 Playoff race which put him into the Championship race where he won the Cup Series title.
I like Logano’s odds of +1200 at NASCAR betting sites, as they provide value for a driver that consistently finishes in the Top 10 each week.
Top Longshot to Win the Championship
Kurt Busch (+3300) is my pick for the top longshot to win this year’s Cup Series championship. Currently, he sits 15th in the Playoff standings and will need to finish high in all three of the races of the opening round to have a chance at advancing.
His best shot at moving on will be at Bristol where he’s won six times in his career and has four straight Top 9 finishes including a victory in 2018’s fall race. The big concern is if Busch can get past the Round of 12 where he’s not run well at those three tracks.
In the Round of 8, he has run well at Texas where he has one career win and six straight Top 9 finishes. A win at Texas could put him into the Championship race.
It’s easy to forget, but Kurt Busch is the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion. He has the experience and the car to compete this postseason. Unfortunately, he does have an uphill battle, which is what makes him a longshot.
Who Wins the 2020 NASCAR Cup Championship?
My final four drivers are Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott. I think Kyle Busch will snag a win or two in the Playoffs, gain momentum and make a surprise run into the Championship race at Phoenix.
But, when you mention Phoenix, there’s only one driver that comes to mind and that’s Kevin Harvick. The #4 car has won at this track nine times, which is more than any other driver. He also has 18 Top 5s, 24 Top 10s and a 9.0 average finish.
In the last 14 Phoenix races, Harvick has finished in the Top 9 for all of them. He also has 12 Top 5s and six wins over that span.
This year’s postseason seems perfectly set up for Harvick to win it all. He’s been the best driver all season long and there’s no reason to think he can’t finish off the 2020 season with his second career championship.
Who Wins the 2020 NASCAR Cup? –Harvick (+200)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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