Who’s the favorite to win the 2020 NASCAR championship? Chase Elliott isn’t sure it’s productive to think about that.
“What good does it do anybody to sit down and rank who they think — I guess if you're in Vegas, it does those people some good, right?” Elliott said Thursday. “For me, I'm not betting this week in Vegas. I'm not laying any money down on trying to win or not.
“I don't care who the favorite is or who the underdog is. I just want to go, have a good run, try to win, achieve our goals.”
The favorite to win the race at BetMGM is Kevin Harvick (+350). He’s not racing for the title. Elliott is, along with Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
According to BetMGM, Elliott and Hamlin are the favorites to win the title at +240. With Harvick favored for the race win — a victory that would be the 10th of his season — there’s a decent shot that Sunday’s title race could be the first in NASCAR’s winner-take-all playoff era that the final Cup Series race hasn’t been won by the champion.
It’s also the first finale of NASCAR’s playoff era that will be held at a track other than Homestead.
“Until someone proves otherwise that they're going to win the race and not be part of the final four, I'm going to assume you still have to beat all 38 guys to win, and Harvick is one of them,” Hamlin said. “I continued to have conversations with Kevin this week, just talking about the season and kind of — it's unfortunate that we weren't able to go head to head and things like that, even though we will, it's just different. Most of the year we kind of looked at its head-to-head, me and him, right. I think obviously in my mind he was deserving of racing for a championship but didn't earn it because of the system, right.”
Hamlin has won seven races in 2020, second-most behind Harvick. Hamlin won at Phoenix in the fall in 2019, though that race was with a different set of aerodynamic rules. The driving style that Hamlin employed to win a year ago won’t be applicable on Sunday.
Logano won the spring race at Phoenix. That was the final race before the Cup Series went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There's definitely things you can go back on,” Logano said of what his team can take from that win in March. “That's really all we have, to be honest with you. We don't have the opportunity to try many new things without practice, right? You don't want to go too far outside of the box. You know what worked for you in the spring. We had a very fast car, overcame a lot of adversity, still won the race. It just shows that we had a very good car.”
“We can make some tweaks here and there to the setup probably, some things that we feel very confident in will be better, but we're not going to step way outside the box. It's just kind of what we got.”
What Brad Keselowski has is a car that’s been raced twice and has won twice. Keselowski won at New Hampshire and Richmond earlier this season with the same car. That car is the one he’ll be racing at Phoenix. And Keselowski says he feels “darned good” about his chances.
“I've had different conversations internally this week than I had the last time I was in the Championship 4, that at their most basic level come from a high level of confidence,” Keselowski said. “There's nothing guaranteed, but I'm very confident we're going to go there and be very competitive and have a great shot to win the race.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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