Kevin Harvick made a disappointing early exit from the NASCAR playoffs, but has emerged as the early favorite to rebound and claim his second career NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2021.
Photo by @StewartHaasRcng (Twitter)
- After claiming the 2020 NASCAR regular-season title, Kevin Harvick sits as the early favorite to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship
- Reigning champion Chase Elliott is among several drivers closely trailing Harvick, but can the 24-year-old become the first driver in a decade to win consecutive NASCAR Cup Series titles?
- We’ve got you covered with the early odds for the 2021 NASCAR season
Kevin Harvick saw a successful 2020 campaign caught short by an early exit from the NASCAR playoffs, but has emerged as the early favorite in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series odds.
Odds to Win 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship
|Martin Truex Jr.||+800|
|Bubba Wallace Jr.||+5000|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||+20000|
|John Hunter Nemechek||+50000|
Odds taken Nov. 17
Harvick the Class of the 2020 Regular Season
Harvick set himself apart from the pack early on this season. The 44-year-old clinched the regular-season championship on the second last weekend of the regular season with a victory in the Drydene 311 and became the first driver to win nine races since 2008.
Harvick carried over his impressive driving into the early NASCAR playoff action, capturing the checkered flag in two of the first three races. But after finishing better than 10th just once in his subsequent six playoff outings, the 2014 NASCAR Cup champion made a surprising exit in Round 8 of the playoffs, settling for a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Cup standings.
What a year for @KevinHarvick! In 2020, Kevin had 9 Wins, 20 Top-5s, 27 Top-10s, and led 1,531 laps.
Bring on the 2021 season. 💪🏁#HBPracing pic.twitter.com/E2jjosdOO7
— HBPRacing (@hbpRacing) November 12, 2020
Duplicating his 2020 regular season success represents a huge challenge for Harvick. That is particularly true with the number of road races increasing to six next season.
Elliott Poised to Build on First Career Championship
Road courses have been no problem for reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, who sits as one of four drivers chasing Harvick as a +700 second favorite.
The 24-year-old overcame some early-season bad luck with a spectacular performance during the NASCAR playoffs, winning three of the final five races to claim his first career title.
this was BEFORE phoenix with 35 of the 36 races completed.
Chase Elliott led the most laps and won phoenix.
Every chase/playoff format from 2004-2020 he still wins the championship in all of them. pic.twitter.com/19NxpWUnPd
— CorvetteRacing48🎄☃️🗿 (@jason_albert9) November 13, 2020
Even more impressive has been Elliott’s performance on road courses. With his victories this past season at both Daytona and Charlotte, Elliott has now driven to victory in each of his past four NASCAR road race appearances, and finished among the top ten in eight of his past 10, including five total wins.
Hamlin, Busch Among Biggest Challengers
While there is no denying Elliott’s star is clearly on the rise, the product of Dawsonville, Georgia will have no shortage of veteran challengers seeking to dethrone him in 2021.
Elliott is joined at a +700 bet by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch, while Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. closely follow at +800. Hamlin closed out 2020 trailing only Harvick with seven wins and finishing fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings.
Chase Elliott wins tonight in Charlotte – his 7th career Cup Series victory at just 24 years old. The only drivers in NASCAR Cup Series history who have more wins before their 25th birthday are Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano.
Elliott won’t turn 25 until November 28. pic.twitter.com/KOHRUh5uSr
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 29, 2020
Logano claimed his lone championship in 2018 and closed out 2020 in third place but earned just one win in his final 32 drives of the season.
A disappointing midseason stretch of 10 races that featured six finishes well out of contention doomed Busch to an eighth-place finish in 2020. The 35-year-old has been among the most consistent drivers on the circuit in recent years, claiming two NASCAR Cup titles over the past six years.
But like Harvick, Busch will have to find a way to produce better results on road courses after finishing no better than 30th in five of his past six road races.
2020 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship Odds Tracker
Elliott Offers Best Value
Parity has reigned in NASCAR since Jimmie Johnson won five straight titles a decade ago, with Kyle Busch being the only driver to win multiple championships over the past decade. But with the legendary Johnson now stepping aside as a full-time driver, Elliott will be the top dog moving forward at Hendricks Motorsports.
Fast Thoughts with @bobpockrass: “Was today the day that you saw Jimmie Johnson pass the torch to Chase Elliott?” pic.twitter.com/ljpeVcGLdI
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) November 9, 2020
With every indication that he has just scratched the surface of his vast potential, and with a threefold increase in road races next season, it is surprising not to see Elliott top the odds board.
As the countdown to the running of the Daytona 500 in early February continues, that is apt to change, making the young champion the best value bet on the early NASCAR Cup odds.
The Pick: Chase Elliott (+700)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.