Early Hamlin bettors in fine shape, but is Logano worth a shot with a wager to win it all?

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Bettors who believed in Denny Hamlin at the onset of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are looking pretty smart right now. Priced between +750 and +800 before Darlington Raceway, the first of the 10-race playoffs, Hamlin has been shortened to +350 on most oddsboards, with the Round of 12 ending Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Those odds place Hamlin, the only driver who has locked up a spot in the final eight, a notch below Kyle Larson in the championship futures market.

RELATED: BetCenter | Roval odds | Title odds

Larson, 22 points above the elimination line, figures to coast into the next round and remains the favorite to lift the Cup at Phoenix Raceway in November. In fact, most sportsbooks have tightened his odds since the playoffs began. Certainly intriguing to some bettors, though, Barstool Sportsbook has lengthened Larson from +240 pre-Darlington to +275.

Here are updated odds to win the 2021 Cup title from NASCAR‘s three partner sportsbooks — BetMGM, Barstool and WynnBET — plus SuperBook USA.

Screen Shot 2021 10 06 At 5.42.58 Pm
Screen Shot 2021 10 06 At 5.42.58 Pm

While Chase Elliott, Larson‘s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, sits in seventh place in the standings, the betting market still has plenty of respect for the No. 9 Chevrolet. Elliott, just nine points above the elimination line, is priced as the third choice, and with this weekend‘s race on a road course — layouts at which he‘s always the betting favorite — it‘s hard to envision him not advancing. Elliott is the +200 chalk to finish first in Charlotte on Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr. is the only other driver priced in single-digit odds in the futures market. He‘s also in solid shape to advance, tied for fourth and 20 points to the good, and should he make it to the final four, a bettor holding a ticket at +850 would be delighted heading into Phoenix, where Truex won in March.

LOGANO LURKS

There‘s a lack of market confidence in Team Penske, evidently. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, third and fourth in the playoff standings, are relative long shots to win it all. Despite what we‘ve written about Kes‘ lame-duck status with Penske not boding well for his championship chances, he ran well at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing second to Bubba Wallace in the rain-shortened YellaWood 500.

But it‘s Logano who now has our attention for a potential futures bet, with a fat +1400 offering at BetMGM.

While Logano figures to advance into the Round of 8, the challenge arises at the first two tracks of the next round — Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway — because Logano hasn‘t been near the front during a lot of 550-horsepower races this season. He did, however, finish fourth at the All-Star Race in Texas (which used a different engine package), and he has been among the best at Martinsville Speedway, where the race before the championship will be run. His 6.71 average finish over the seven most recent races at the short track in Virginia is tied for second and his 110.5 average driving rating is third.

Over the four most recent races at Phoenix, Logano has steered the No. 22 Ford to finishes of second, third, first and ninth, leading 421 laps during that stretch. Should he scratch his way into the final four, he‘ll be as live a dog as they come Nov. 7.

Marcus DiNitto is a writer and editor living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been covering sports for nearly two-and-a-half decades and sports betting for more than 10 years. His first NASCAR betting experience was in 1995 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he went 0-for-3 on his matchup picks. Read his articles and follow him on Twitter; do not bet his picks.