Best 2021 NASCAR Cup Championship Picks, Predictions and Odds: Hamlin primed to win first Cup Series Title

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin battle during a 2020 race
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Kaleb Kraus


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Pickswise's Esports expert. Very passionate about sports, especially college football and college basketball. I am a 2018 graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.

The year 2020 saw plenty of up and downs throughout the sports world, and NASCAR was no exception to that. It wasn’t an easy road for the 2020 champion Chase Elliott, as an early-season pause due to the Coronavirus nearly derailed the whole season.

With less than three months between the end of the 2020 season and the start of this 2021 season, NASCAR’s best will be chasing after the 25-year-old Elliott, with him and defending Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin among the favorites to take home the crown in 2021.

Three Favorites at the Top

Last season sure looked like the year of Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, as both drivers were able to capture seven or more wins on the season. Not only did Harvick boast the most wins (nine), he also had the most top 10s (20) and top fives (27). Harvick looked like the most dominant driver last season, and he failed to reach the championship four at Phoenix.

Right on the heels of Harvick was Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing. He had seven wins, including the Daytona 500. He also added 18 top-five finishes and the most stage wins with 11. Unlike Harvick, Hamlin was able to reach the championship four at Phoenix. Even with reaching the championship, Hamlin was outshined by his three fellow competitors including Elliott, who went on to win the title.

Elliott was no doubt on cloud nine following an impressive run to the 2020 Cup Series Championship. After a busy offseason, he will be out to defend that crown in 2021. He took home five victories in 2020, including three of the last five races. Elliott has earned his place as the face of Hendrick Motorsports, and he has a legit chance to repeat in 2021.

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Odds

Check out the drivers with the best odds to take home the 2021 Cup Series Championship, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook:

  • Chase Elliott +550
  • Kevin Harvick +600
  • Denny Hamlin +650
  • Brad Keselowski +800
  • Joey Logano +800
  • Martin Truex Jr. +800
  • Kyle Larson +1000
  • Ryan Blaney +1400
  • Alex Bowman +2400
  • Kurt Busch +3500
  • Aric Almirola +4700
  • Christopher Bell +5500
  • William Byron +5500
  • Matt DiBenedetto +7500
  • Austin Dillon +8500
  • Bubba Wallace +8500

Best Bet for the 2021 NASCAR Cup

Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick were the class of the field in 2020, but ultimately neither were able to take home the championship. Hamlin enters 2021 still seeking his first NASCAR Championship. His career is already Hall of Fame-worthy with three Daytona 500 victories, but a championship would seal the deal. Hamlin is once again the favorite to win the 500, but even with that possibility, a championship needs to happen sometime.

Chase Elliott is the favorite to repeat, but Hamlin seemed to be the driver right on his heels in a majority of Chase’s five victories in 2020. This season likely comes down to Elliott, Hamlin, Harvick, and a Team Penske car. Hamlin has been able to take advantage late in the season, but odds are on his side, given five of the last seven seasons have produced a first-time champion. Take Hamlin at +650 while it’s still available.

Best Underdog for the 2021 NASCAR Cup

Chase Elliott definitely surprised everyone with his Championship win in 2020, but one of the biggest surprises of the year was the struggle of drivers at Joe Gibbs Racing outside of Denny Hamlin. Kyle Busch, the 2019 champion, struggled mightily throughout all of last year and nearly went winless. He was able to snap that drought at the fall Texas race. Busch will be out to prove doubters wrong in 2021, and with the big changes in this year’s schedule, anything could happen. Busch will be a driver to watch this season and poses some value at +3500.

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