There will not be a repeat winner of the NASCAR Cup Championship.
Joey Logano, the 2022 Champ, and one of the favorites in 2023, was eliminated in the round of 16 when he crashed last Sunday in Bristol.
Logano, along with another former champion Kevin Harvick was eliminated along with Michael McDowell and Rickey Stenhouse Jr.
That leaves a dozen drivers, including former champions Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kyle Busch (2019, 2015), Kyle Larson (2021) and Brad Keselowski (2012), in search of the 2023 title.
The first race in the round of 12 is 3:30 p.m. (EST) Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The next two are at Talladega, Oct. 1 and Charlotte, Oct. 8. After the Charlotte race the field will be trimmed to eight drivers. The championship will be held Nov. 5 in Phoenix.
Here’s a look at each of the 12 drivers, who made the cut from 16 and their chances of getting to the next round and eventually a Cup Championship.
Odds via Lord Ping
Kyle Larson (+450) — The 2021 champ won twice during the season and then won the first playoff race at Darlington to advance to the final 12. He’s had a good year to go with his trips on Victory Lane, Larson had10 top 5 finishes and 12 top 10s. He’s also won at Phoenix where the championship will be held. That Darlington win moved him from the fifth choice to a co-favorite.
Denny Hamlin (+450) — It’s hard to believe Hamlin has never won a Cup title. Is this the year? Third in points on the season, the Joe Gibbs driver, won for the third time this season last Sunday in Bristol to cement his place in the top 12.
William Byron (+450) — Byron was the third choice of the oddsmakers when the playoffs started, but has dropped from +600 to +450 and is now one of the three co-favorites. The Hendrick team member led the circuit in points, and in wins, with five during the season. He also had nine top 5s and 13 top 10s. Byron is also one of just seven of the 16 drivers with a win at Phoenix which came earlier this year.
Martin Truex Jr. (+500) — Truex, who had a great bounce back season after going winless in 2022, was the favorite at +400 when the playoffs began, but has fallen behind the top three. The veteran New Jersey native finished second in points on the season, recorded three wins, nine top 5s and a best 15 top 10s. He starved off elimination to make the cut last week in Bristol.
Kyle Busch (+900) — Two-time champion Busch made it through the first go-round. He’s won three times this season and is looking for a fourth win to advance to the Final 8.
Chris Buescher (+900) — One of the most consistent drivers all season, Buescher’s odds dropped from +1600 to +900 after the round of 16. Buescher’s three wins this season came over the last five weeks of the season. His 16 top 10s are also the most of any driver in the field.
Tyler Reddick (+900) — The Kansas winner, Reddick continued what was a strong finish to the regular season and moved into the top 12. Once a long shot at +2200, he’s looking like a sneaky good choice at this point.
Christopher Bell (+1000) — The third Joe Gibbs driver to make it to the Round of 12, Bell made it to the Final Four and finished third a year ago. This season he had one win, six top 5s and 13 top 10s.
Ross Chastain (+2000) — Last year’s second place finisher just got out of the Round of 16, but he starts fresh here and saw his odds increase to where he may be a good longshot play.
Brad Keselowski (+2000) — Keselowski’s last title came 11 years ago and he failed to win a race this year, but gained enough points to make the cut into the playoffs and enough to advance to the round of 12. Interesting.
Ryan Blaney (+2500) — Team Penske’s lone driver in the Round of 12, Blaney had a win, four top 5s and 12 top 10 finishes on the season. He will be fortunate to make it out of this round.
Bubba Wallace (+10000) — The final qualifier for the playoffs, and the final qualifier into the Round of 12, Wallace keeps pulling out all the stops. Can he keep it going?