NASCAR championship odds: Can Ryan Blaney defend his Cup Series title in 2024?

Defending Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney doesn’t find himself atop the list of favorites to win the 2024 title.

Blaney won last year’s Cup Series title after he finished in second in the winner-take-all season finale at Phoenix. Blaney beat Kyle Larson and William Byron to the finish line — Christopher Bell had a brake failure early in the race — as he became the first driver to win a Cup Series title without winning the last race since NASCAR went to its winner-take-all season finale playoff format in 2014.

The 2023 season wasn’t Blaney’s best statistical performance. He tied a career-high with three wins but had just eight top-five finishes and 18 top 10s. His average finish of 14.1 was worse than his average finish in each of the past four seasons.

But Blaney was great when it mattered the most. He won two playoff races and finished in the top six in five of the final six races while finishing 12th in the other.

This season, Blaney finds himself behind five drivers among BetMGM’s title odds and that group of five includes both Larson and Byron. Here’s a look at how the odds stack up ahead of Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 05: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 05, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney beat Kyle Larson for the 2023 Cup Series title, but Larson is the favorite for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series title. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The contenders

  • Kyle Larson (+525)

  • William Byron (+625)

  • Denny Hamlin (+800)

  • Chase Elliott (+800)

  • Martin Truex Jr. (+900)

It’s not hard to explain how Larson is the preseason favorite. The 2021 Cup Series champion won four races in 2022 and has been the fastest driver in the Cup Series over the past three seasons. It’ll be a surprise if Larson isn’t racing for the championship for the third time in four seasons.

Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Byron led the Cup Series with six wins in 2023 and had 21 top-10 finishes. He was the only driver to finish in the top 10 more than 19 times. He and Larson were the only drivers to lead over 1,000 laps in 2023.

Hamlin is still looking for his first Cup Series title as he looks to shed the label of the most accomplished Cup Series driver ever without a title. He should be in the thick of the playoff mix once again.

Elliott is looking for a bounce back season after missing seven races because of a broken leg. Elliott could have made the playoffs despite that lengthy absence, but he never got a win to earn a playoff spot. Elliott had just seven top-five finishes a season ago.

Truex is also hoping for a rebound after the way his season cratered in the playoffs. He scored the most points of any driver during the regular season but finished 17th or worse in each of the first five playoff races. After 15 top-10 finishes in the first 26 races, Truex had just two over the final 10 races of the season.

The second tier

  • Ryan Blaney (+1100)

  • Christopher Bell (+1100)

  • Joey Logano (+1100)

  • Kyle Busch (+1400)

  • Brad Keselowski (+1400)

Blaney has the same odds as Bell and his Team Penske teammate Logano. Bell was tied for second with 19 top 10s in 2023 and ended up as the second-fastest Joe Gibbs Racing driver by the end of the season. Logano, the 2022 Cup Series champion, won just once in 2023 and led only 308 laps.

Busch’s first season at Richard Childress Racing started strongly and ended poorly. Busch won three times in the first 15 races but never really rebounded after a summer slump. Keselowski was eighth in the standings in 2023 after a poor first season at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. He enters 2024 on a two-year winless streak that spans 98 races.

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 07: Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Jockey Chevrolet, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Rocket League Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 07, 2023 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick are both at +1600 to win the 2024 Cup Series title. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Dark horses?

  • Tyler Reddick (+1600)

  • Ross Chastain (+1600)

  • Chris Buescher (+2000)

  • Ty Gibbs (+2500)

Reddick was sixth in 2023 and had a boom-or-bust season. He had 10 top-five finishes ... and nine finishes outside the top 25. Some consistency could go a long way. Chastain was the driver who beat Blaney to the finish line in Phoenix a year ago and has won twice in each of his first two seasons with Trackhouse Racing.

Buescher ripped off three wins in August to make the playoffs in a hot streak that magnified just how consistent he was all season long. Byron (11.0) was the only driver with a finish better than Buescher’s 12.1 over the course of the season.

Gibbs enters his second year in the Cup Series and scored all four of his top-five finishes in the final 16 races. He could make a big leap in 2024.

Long shots

  • Alex Bowman (+3500)

  • Bubba Wallace (+4000)

  • Josh Berry (+6000)

  • Daniel Suarez (+8000)

Bowman missed three races in 2023 because of a back injury. And, like Elliott, he also struggled to match the speed of his teammates Larson and Byron. Bowman had just four top fives and 10 top-10 finishes.

Wallace was winless in 2023 after getting a win in each of the previous two seasons. But he made the playoffs for the first time and finished 10th. Can he get to the third round of the playoffs in 2024?

Berry is in his first full Cup Series season and places Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 car at Stewart-Haas Racing. Unless SHR has upped its game significantly from 2023, Berry won’t be a title threat.

Suarez made the playoffs in 2022 with a win at Sonoma but posted just three top fives in 2023 and finished 19th in the standings.

Everyone else

  • Chase Briscoe (+10000)

  • Noah Gragson (+10000)

  • John Hunter Nemechek (+12500)

  • Erik Jones (+12500)

  • Michael McDowell (+20000)

  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+20000)

  • Austin Dillon (+20000)

  • Austin Cindric (+20000)

  • Ryan Preece (+20000)

  • Daniel Hemric (+25000)

  • Carson Hocevar (+25000)

  • Zane Smith (+25000)

  • Justin Haley (+30000)

  • Harrison Burton (+50000)

  • Corey LaJoie (+50000)

  • Todd Gilliland (+50000)