The round of 16 begins Sunday, October 16 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. According to the initial odds, Denny Hamlin is the favorite to win and claim the fourth championship in the Cup Series for the fourth straight year.
Hamlin goes into the weekend odds of 11-2 to win the opener of the Round of Eight, according to BetMGM. He is just ahead of regular season champion Chase Elliott (8-1), Kyle Larson (8-1), Christopher Bell (8-1) and Tyler Reddick (9-1). Of that group, only Hamlin, Elliott and Bell survive in the playoffs.
If Hamlin earns the win, he will reach championship four for the fourth straight year. It will also be his fifth overall appearance in the fourth championship considering he made it in 2014 alongside Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.
There are several reasons Hamlin has the best odds of winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The speed of the Toyota drivers on medium-difficulty courses certainly tops the list.
In addition to overall speed, Hamlin is also the defending champion of the Las Vegas playoff race. He put on a dominant performance in 2021 to start the round of 16 by leading 137 of the 267 laps and winning stage two.
Hamlin held off a stubborn Chase Elliott in the final laps of playoff racing to take the checkered flag at the Nevada track for the first time in his Cup Series career. That win ticked off a major career goal for the Virginia native and propelled him to the third round of the playoffs.
Hamlin now wants to repeat that feat in the 2022 playoffs. If he can win a second time at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he will move up to championship four at Phoenix Raceway, tying Tony Stewart for 15th most wins (49) on the all-time list.
A common theme throughout the 2022 season is the dominance of Toyota and Chevrolet drivers at mile-and-a-half tracks. They showed the best speed and won the most races. Although Joey Logano conquered the first Darlington race after battling past William Byron.
The Ford drivers haven’t had as much success at these tracks, which is reflected in the Las Vegas odds. Ryan Blaney is 10-1 in the most favorable position among championship-qualified Ford Performance drivers, but he is tied with Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
Logano, who previously had two wins in Las Vegas, heads into the weekend 16-1. He trails William Byron (12-1) and Bubba Wallace (14-1). Logano was solid overall during the spring race in Las Vegas. He qualified sixth and secured points in Stage 2, but he only finished 14th. This outing continued a consistent run that resulted in an 8.9 on-track average score.
Briscoe, the Cinderella tale of the Cup Series playoffs, has the worst odds among the playoff drivers. He sits at 33-1 after showing through the first two rounds of the playoffs after needing points in each.
Briscoe has three previous starts at the Nevada track. He finished 21st and 19th in his rookie season before qualifying fourth for the spring 2022 race. However, he finished 35th after a crash also involving Daniel Suarez.