Strong Start Puts Harvick in Driver's Seat as NASCAR Series Takes Break

David Schwab

Thursday, March 29, 2018 5:42 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 29, 2018 5:42 PM UTC

The first six point races on this season’s 36-race Cup Series schedule are in the books as NASCAR takes a break this week for the Easter holiday. Race bettors have cashed in big on Kevin Harvick, who already has three trips to Victory Lane.

NASCAR: Monster Energy Cup Series Updated Title Odds

The 2018 season started on a surprising note, with Austin Dillon winning the prestigious Daytona 500 at long odds. And this past Sunday, veteran Clint Bowyer waited out a snowstorm in Martinsville to end a 190-race winless streak with a victory in the STP 500.

When it comes to NASCAR’s futures at 5Dimes to win this year’s racing title, there is some value to be found on the board in the updated betting odds.

Top Cup Series Title Favorites

It is no big surprise that Kevin Harvick tops the list at +250 odds to win, given the No. 4 Ford’s lightning-fast start out of the gate. Fast starts are great, but its still comes down to winning races in the 10-race playoff. Harvick also adds some value to his lofty title odds considering he won only two point-race events last season and still managed to work his way into the championship race at the end of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Harvick will still have some stiff competition to get by in the favorites category, with defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. listed as a +450 second-favorite. Along with Truex's victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, he has guided the No. 78 Toyota to four other top-five finishes. He offers some great value to win the title this season after winning eight races last year, including four in the playoff.

The third-favorite on the board at +550 betting odds is Kyle Busch. He has been a major factor in the title race the past few seasons since winning his first Cup championship in 2015. The No. 18 Toyota finished third in the standings in 2016 and second last season.

Top Cup Series Title Contenders

It is a wide-open race in the betting odds for the contenders on the list, starting with Kyle Larson at +750. He had a breakout season last year with four victories and 11 other runs inside the top five, but he faded to eighth in the final standings. This season, the No. 42 Chevrolet has two runs inside the top five in his first six events to hold down ninth place in the standings.

Next on the list is a trio of drivers at +850 betting odds. Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott offer some value at those odds, but they are going to have to start winning some races to compete with the drivers ahead of them on the list.

The best value on the board could be seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson at +1150 odds to win. His slow start behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet cannot last forever in pursuit of his eighth title. You also could add Denny Hamlin to the value list at +1650 after finishing sixth in last year’s point standings.

Top Cup Series Title Longshots

Picking longshots to win a Cup race -- let alone a series title -- is extremely difficult. However, early wins this year by Dillon (+8500) and Bowyer (+3300) add some value to each driver with an almost guaranteed spot in the 16-driver field for the title playoff.

Another interesting driver at longer odds is Ryan Blaney at +3300. Through his first six events, he has raced well enough to hold down third place in the standings on the strength of four top-10 runs.

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