After a stop/start year in NASCAR, the finish line is finally in sight, with just 3 more races to come before a champion is crowned. As it stands at the moment, we are in the Round of 8, but that number will be cut in half after the next two races. The only driver to have officially punched a ticket into the final round is Joey Logano, who got there after winning the Hollywood 400 last weekend. That means that there is now real pressure on the remaining 7 drivers in the Round of 8, as the number of available spots begin to shrink. It’s going to be fun to see who reacts well to the pressure and who folds under the weight of it. We will find out this weekend when NASCAR rolls into to Texas Motor Speedway for the Autotrader Echopark Automotive 500. Let’s take a look at the favorites for this race, along with their NASCAR odds.
NASCAR Cup Series: PLAYOFFS | ROUND OF 8
Kevin Harvick (+275)
As we head into the final few weeks of the season, Harvick remains the favorite to win the championship this season, but even he must be beginning to feel the pressure begin to mount. On the positive side of things, he can’t have asked for a better spot in Sunday’s race, as Harvick will have the pole position. That is, of course, no guarantee of a positive result, but it’s certainly a spot that all the remaining Round of 8 drivers would love to be in. Further cementing his status as the favorite for this race is that this is a track he seems to love. He has finished in the top 10 there in 12 straight races, which incudes 3 wins and 7 podium finishes. A top 3 might just be enough to secure a Round of 4 spot.
Denny Hamlin (+475)
With Logano winning last weekend, we now have a scenario where one of the top two drivers this season could potentially miss out on the final four. For weeks now, we have been saying that if anyone was going to catch Harvick and the 9 wins that he has this season, it would be Denny Hamlin. In any other season, the 7 wins that Hamlin has would probably be enough to have him on top at this late stage of the season, but he has now spent weeks trying to keep pace with Harvick. He did have a win at Texas last season, but this is a track where he does not usually run well. In the two races in Texas since that win, he has finished 20th and 28th. He will need much better to ease the nerves heading into next weekend.
Joey Logano (+600)
As we mentioned earlier, Logano has already punched his ticket into the final four, but he will be looking to keep the momentum going with another win on Sunday. He definitely has an opportunity to build on the success he had last week, as he also seems to really enjoy racing at the Texas Motor Speedway. He has finished no worse than 7th in 8 of his last 9 races there, although you do need to go all the way back to 2014 to find the last time that he took the checkered flag there. That’s something to think about id you are thinking of playing him to win.