NASCAR betting preview: Elliott's the Watkins Glen favorite as Blaney and Truex need a win

·3-min read

Is another first-time winner going to visit victory lane at Watkins Glen on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, USA)?

Three of the first four NASCAR Cup Series road races of the season have featured a driver getting his first win. Ross Chastain won at Circuit of the Americas. Daniel Suarez won at Sonoma. And Tyler Reddick won at Road America before getting his second win at Indianapolis.

Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. are hoping the first-time winner trend continues with a twist. Thanks to NASCAR’s win-and-in playoff format, Blaney and Truex are fighting for the final playoff spot despite both being in the top five in points because neither driver has gotten a win so far this season.

Unless both Blaney and Truex get wins over the final two races of the regular season, one of the two is going to miss the playoffs. And Blaney has the edge over Truex at the moment. He’s 26 points ahead entering Watkins Glen. If neither Blaney or Truex win and there are no other new winners over the next two races, the driver highest in the playoff standings will get the final playoff spot.

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 16: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, (L) and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Libman Ford, talk on the grid during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott is over 100 points ahead of Ryan Blaney in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

The points race at the top of the standings, meanwhile, is an absolute snoozer. Chase Elliott leads the Cup Series in wins with four and also leads the points standings. He’s 116 points ahead of Blaney. The max number of points a driver can get in a single race is 60. So all Elliott has to do is be ahead of Blaney by 60 or more and he clinches the regular season title on Sunday.

That regular-season title comes with a 10-point bonus for the playoffs. That should serve Elliott well during the postseason.

Oh yeah, he’s also the favorite for Sunday’s race. If a new winner isn’t going to get the checkered flag on Sunday, you can do worse than betting him.

Here’s what you need to know to bet the last road course race of the regular season. All odds are from BetMGM.

The favorites

  • Chase Elliott (+500)

  • Tyler Reddick (+600)

  • Kyle Larson (+800)

  • Ross Chastain (+900)

  • Austin Cindric (+1000)

Elliott has two wins and three top fives in five Watkins Glen starts. Reddick finished 10th in his only Watkins Glen start while Larson won the 2021 race at the track. Chastain hasn’t finished in the top 10 in any of his three Watkins Glen starts and Cindric got the first Xfinity Series win of his career at the track.

Good mid-tier value

  • Kyle Busch (+2000)

  • Martin Truex Jr. (+2000)

Joe Gibbs Racing hasn’t had great results at road courses this season, though we’re wondering if these odds would be better for both Busch and Truex if the team’s strategy play didn’t backfire at Sonoma. Busch has two wins and 13 top-10 finishes at the Glen in 16 starts while Truex has one win and 10 top-10 finishes in 15 starts. These two feel like way better bets than a lot of drivers ahead of them on the board.

Don’t bet this driver

  • Kimi Raikkonen (+4000)

The former F1 driver is making the first Cup Series start of his career on Sunday in a third car for Trackhouse Racing. While we wouldn’t be surprised to see Raikkonen be competitive, he’s not going to win. His odds shouldn’t be this high.

Looking for a long shot?

  • William Byron (+3300)

Byron has finished in the top 10 in two of his three Watkins Glen starts. He absolutely is worth a flyer at these odds. You’re not going to find Byron as this much of a long shot the rest of the season.