Chase Elliott has two more chances to make the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
After finishing second to Michael McDowell at Indianapolis, Elliott will start Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen (3pm ET, USA) 80 points behind Bubba Wallace for the final spot in the 16-driver playoff field.
With a maximum of 55 points available for second place, the chances of Elliott jumping past Wallace (and Daniel Suarez and Ty Gibbs between them) in the points standings are incredibly slim. He needs a win. And it has to happen in the Glen of Daytona on August 26.
Elliott is in this predicament due to a broken leg he suffered in March and a one-race suspension he received for trashing Denny Hamlin at Charlotte. Elliott has missed seven of the 24 races so far. He scores enough points per race to easily make the playoffs. He just hasn’t competed enough.
The good news for Elliott is that he enters Sunday’s race as the favorite to win by +350. Elliott is the top active driver at Watkins Glen with two wins and four top fives in six starts. No driver has a better average finish on the track than Elliott’s 5.7.
Elliott was very good in road courses in 2023; he finished fifth at Sonoma and third at Chicago before his second at Indy. And he scored four top-five finishes in six road races in 2022.
But he also hasn’t been as good on road courses with the current Cup Series car as he was with the previous iteration. Seven of Elliott’s eighteen wins have been on road courses, and all of them came with the previous car model.
If he gets an eighth road course win on Sunday, he will be in the playoffs and Wallace will be on the outside watching Daytona. And if Elliott doesn’t win, he will face a likely win-and-in scenario in Daytona.
Here’s what you need to know to bet on Sunday’s race via BetMGM.
Chase Elliott (+350)
Kyle Larson (+650)
Martin Truex Jr. (+700)
Tyler Reddick (+700)
Christopher Bell (+1100)
Daniel Suarez (+1100)
Larson has won the last two races at Watkins Glen, while Truex has one win and 10 top-10 finishes in 16 starts. Only Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have made more starts at Watkins Glen among active drivers. Bell and Reddick have finished in the top 10 on both starts at the Glen, while Suarez has finished in the top five three times in five starts.
Good mid tier value
Chris Buescher (+2200)
Austin Cindric (+2500)
Buescher has only one top-10 finish at Watkins Glen, but that was a year ago. He’s been really good on road courses with the current Cup Series car. Cindric was 13th a year ago and has had a few sixth place runs on road courses this year.
Don’t bet on this driver
McDowell’s chances are a little too slim for our liking after his win in Indianapolis. It won’t be a surprise at all if he’s a contender at the Glen, but the odds of him going back-to-back seem slim as these odds reflect.
Looking for a long shot?
Jones’ odds are astronomical, but he has two top-fives and four top-10 finishes in five starts at Watkins Glen. A season ago he finished 10th.