NASCAR Cup Series playoffs could bring same parity as regular season

AP file photo by Steve Helber / Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season title, but in a year when 16 drivers won at least one points race, he doesn’t think that makes him the favorite to win the overall crown as the playoffs begin Sunday at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Oddsmakers have listed Chase Elliott as this year's favorite to win NASCAR's Cup Series championship, and statistics paint the same picture.

The 26-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver from Dawsonville, Georgia, leads the top-tier circuit with four victories, won the regular-season title and enters the playoffs with a 15-point cushion in the standings.

Elliott doesn't put too much faith into the numbers game, though. If there truly is a favorite in this 16-driver field, he can't pick one — not even himself.

"I don't really see a favorite. I mean, it seems like some weeks you have some guys who are really strong up there contending for wins, and then other weeks it's a bunch of different guys," said Elliott, who won his first Cup Series title two years ago before teammate Kyle Larson earned the 2021 crown.