The Championship 4 has been set, and the 2020 NASCAR Champion will be crowned at Phoenix Raceway, this Sunday.
Since 2002 the NASCAR season finale has been at Homestead-Miami Speedway but will have a change of venue this season. Kevin Harvick was surprisingly eliminated from the playoffs last week at Martinsville after leading the circuit in wins (9), Top 5s (20), Top 10s (26), Laps Led (1531) and Average Finish (7.3).
It was a dominant season for Harvick, but one of Denny Hamlin (7 Wins), Chase Elliott (4 Wins), Brad Keselowski (4 Wins) or Joey Logano (3 Wins) will be crowned the Champion. Both Hamlin and Elliott will be searching for their first career championship, while Logano and Keselowski will be going for their second.
Below are my five favourite bets for the Season Finale 500.
Kyle Busch (-140) over Ryan Blaney
After being shutout in the first 33 races of the season, Kyle Busch finally won his first race in Texas a couple of weeks ago. Busch has been racing well recently, finishing with seven Top 10s in his last nine races. Busch has won two of the last four races at Phoenix and has the lowest average finish (4.83) here since 2018.
Blaney has two third-place finishes in his last three visits to Phoenix but also has two DNFs in his last four. Blaney is one of the best young drivers in NASCAR, but his two Penske teammates (Logano and Keselowski) will be pushing for the win while he gets out of the way. I don't think Kyle Busch will be pulling over for anyone, considering he didn't do Martin Truex Jr. any favours in Texas.
Kyle Busch (+750) to Win Outright
With the best Avg. Finish and three career wins here, Kyle Busch would love to finish 2020 with another win and carry some of that momentum into 2021. Kyle Busch is in it for Kyle Busch, so he'll gladly win this race and let the Championship 4 battle for second place. With the sixth-best odds to win the race, Busch is a great value bet.
Kurt Busch (-110) over Alex Bowman
Kyle's older brother Kurt was also eliminated from Championship contention at Martinsville but has some success at Phoenix. Kurt has one win and 20 career Top 10s in 35 starts at Phoenix and a 9.38 Average Finish since joining Chip Ganassi Racing.
Busch has been a Top 10 machine this season, and Bowman has not been great at this track. Bowman has not had a Top 10 in his last five visits, finishing 20.93 on average.
Clint Bowyer (-110) over Erik Jones
This will be Bowyer's final race before heading to the Fox Sports booth next season, so he'll want to finish strong. Bowyer has been solid at this track since joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2017, finishing with six Top 15s and three Top 10s in seven starts at Phoenix.
Jones was good here early in his career, but in the last four stops at Phoenix, he has an average finish of 20.3. Jones was basically given team orders not to pass Denny Hamlin last week, so don't expect him to be pushing for a Top 5 on Sunday. Bowyer won't have that kind of cloud hanging over his head as he tries to finish his career with a bang.
Denny Hamlin (+260) to Win 2020 Championship
If you're going to bet on Hamlin to win the Championship at +260, you might as well throw a couple of bucks on him to win the race at +500 as well. Since they started with the Championship 4 in 2014, a member of those four has won the season finale all six times.
Hamlin was the second most dominant driver after Harvick this season, ranking second in wins (7), Top 5s (17) and Average Finish (9.5). Hamlin also has the best Average Finish (11.3) at Phoenix of the Championship 4, so this seems like the smartest bet.
-- by Tommy Bits
Headline Photo Credit – NASCAR.com