Kyle Larson's elimination means a new NASCAR Cup Series champ will be crowned in 2022, and our South Point 400 picks examine who's most likely to make the boldest bid for the crown in the Round of 8. Could it be Denny Hamlin...?
This NASCAR season's seen plenty of oddities and upset winners throughout its bends and (mostly) left turns, so it seems only fitting that we'll be crowning a new champion in November.
With the South Point 400 odds taking center stage, defending champion Kyle Larson will be on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. Who will step up and assert their claim to the vacated throne?
As the Round of 8 gets underway, check out our best free South Point 400 picks and predictions for Sunday, October 16.
South Point 400 best bets
Picks made on 10/12/22 at 2:05 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick above to jump to the full analysis.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
South Point 400 favorites
Denny Hamlin (+650)
He won this race last year and was fourth and second respectively in the two Kansas races. Hamlin has three Top-4 finishes in his last four Vegas starts and has improved his finishing position in four of the five tracks that we’ve made a second visit to in 2022.
Christopher Bell (+800)
Worth a look. He was seventh last year and 10th this past spring. Bell also was fifth and third in the two Kansas races this season as well, and enters fresh off a win last weekend. He’s bettered his result in four of the five return trips to tracks this season. Bell has four Top 5s in six playoff races, too.
Ross Chastain (+900)
Chastain won an Xfinity race for Ganassi here and was third this past spring. On top of that, he finished seventh in both Kansas races this season.
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South Point 400 longshot picks
William Byron (+1,000)
He finished seventh in the playoff race in 2019 and restarted the Spring race in 2020 on the front row before contact cut his tire on the overtime restart. He was eighth last year in this very race too. Byron finished fifth in the spring, and 16th and sixth at the pair of Kansas races this season. He said seeing tracks for a second time has helped him this season. He's right. He's improved in four of those five races.
Martin Truex Jr. (+1,200)
He has nine Top 8s in his last 10 there overall. He was sixth and fifth respectively at Kansas (like track) this season.
Kyle Busch (+1,500)
Seven Top 7s in his last nine Vegas starts including four straight Top 6s. He was fourth here in the spring and third at Kansas’ spring race. He also enters on the heels of a Top 5 last Sunday.
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South Point 400 fades
Tyler Reddick (+800)
He has back-to-back of Top-10 finishes here, including seventh in the spring. Reddick has two finishes outside the Top 30 this year at Kansas, but both were due to crashes while leading when a tire went down. What I don’t like are his odds at +800. Too low for a non-playoff driver like himself.
Chase Elliott (+800)
Prior to a runner-up in last year’s playoff race, Elliott had just two career Top 5s on this track with his last four finishes being 26th, 22nd, 13th, and 9th, respectively. He has five finishes of 22nd or worse there too and was only 29th and 11th at Kansas. He enters this weekend with five of his last seven results being outside the Top 10 including, four of 20th or worse.
Kyle Larson (+900)
He won last spring, was second this spring, and had a fast car last fall, too. On like tracks this season, he’s finished second (Kansas 1), eighth (Kansas 2), and ninth (Coke 600). The only question is, how locked in is he now after being eliminated from the playoffs in shocking fashion last weekend?
South Point 400 matchup pick
Joey Logano (-130) vs. Bubba Wallace (+110)
Logano hasn’t fared well lately in Vegas, nor did well at Kansas this season either. Wallace won the last race at Kansas and had a Top-5 car in the first race there. He hasn’t been great at Vegas though, which is why I don’t necessarily think he’s a race-winning contender on Sunday. However, can he finish ahead of Logano and be on the outskirts of a Top-10 result? Absolutely.
PICK: Wallace (+110)
South Point 400 preview
Ford has been the most dominant team on the 1.5-mile track with 13 wins in 29 tries, but was shut out a year ago. However, Toyotas have dominated this track and Kansas (the closest resembling track) this season.
In the spring race, Toyotas led 107 of the 274 laps (39%) that day. In Kansas 1, they led 171 of 267 laps (64%) and took home finishing spots 1-3-4-5-6. In Kansas 2, they led 94 of the 267 laps (35%) and finished 1-2-3-5.
They also feel the most confident, too. Christopher Bell has a rejuvenated outlook after winning last week’s race in to preserve his payoff life.
“I mean, I feel extremely good about what we have going on here in the next three races,” he said. “Ever since the schedule laid out and we were looking at the Playoffs, the round of 16 all were really good racetracks for us, the Round of 8 were good racetracks for us. The round of 12 with Talladega and this racetrack in there, I was super concerned and nervous. This whole last two weeks, I had been extremely deflated, just kind of down in the dumps.
“Now I can promise you I’m as excited as ever heading into these next three races.”
He had to win the ROVAL 400 to advance, and did so, making him a dangerous driver on these tracks.
So is his teammate. Denny Hamlin (didn’t have to win to advance, but he got by and heads to arguably one of his better tracks.
“All of (the tracks in the third round) are P1 for me and I like all of them,” said Denny Hamlin. “All of them are just perfect for what our strength is, especially with the Toyotas and myself. I’m excited. We had a good test at Martinsville and even though we finished bad there in the spring. We’re going to have to qualify well there and track position is going to be huge. We’re going to go to work and really excited about our prospects in this next round.”
Chevrolet is right there to pick up if Toyota falters, but only Chase Elliott and William Byron are left for Hendrick Motorsports to vie for this year’s championship. Ross Chastain would be the feel-good emotional story and arguably the top driver among the bow tie camp to watch.
“I think it’s going to be a really tough round,” Elliott admitted after a 20th-place finish in Charlotte. “Vegas was a struggle for us in the spring.
South Point 400 key stats
- The winner of the seventh playoff race has gone on to win the title five times — 2007 Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta), 2011 Tony Stewart (Martinsville), 2016, Jimmie Johnson (Martinsville), 2018 – Joey Logano (Martinsville), 2021, Kyle Larson (Texas).
- Vegas has produced a ton of lead changes lately, with seven of the last eight races featuring at least 20.
South Point 400 live betting trends to watch
- Here’s a strange but true stat: The second-stage winner at Vegas has won seven times and was fifth in another in 10 tries. 2020 was the only outlier, when Chase Elliott swept both stages in the spring race but cut a tire in the end. Kurt Busch snuck up and stole a win in the Fall race. That’s four of the last six races in which the Stage 2 winner emerged victorious.
- Vegas is like Kansas, and in the three combined races we had there this year, only once did the eventual race winner lead a lap in the first stage.
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