With the NASCAR Cup championship picture coming into clearer focus, few people are talking about Ryan Blaney.
Understandably, the title discussion mostly has revolved around the at-times dominant performances of Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin this season. Sprinkle in five former champions, including the sport’s most popular driver in Chase Elliott, and it’s not surprising Blaney is being overlooked.
The NASCAR championship futures odds reflect the general fan and bettor indifference toward the 27-year-old Team Penske driver. Despite boasting three wins this season — more than Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski or Elliott — Blaney is listed at +700 for the Cup title, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Those are by far the farthest odds of any driver currently positioned in the top four.
Without going so far as to say his odds should be stronger, that does mean there could be value in taking a slip on Blaney.
Heading into the first Round of 8 race at Texas Motor Speedway, where he’s never won, Blaney might have an opportunity to give himself some cushion. In his last six races at Texas, Blaney has finished second and has posted three top-fives and five top-10s, according to Driver Averages, whereas some others in the championship hunt such as Martin Truex Jr. and Elliott have struggled in the Lone Star State.
(As an aside, Kyle Busch, who is good pretty much everywhere and is right on Blaney’s heels in the standings, has had lots of success at Texas. Busch never can be counted out in any race, anywhere.)
Looking at the championship odds, it’s fairly obvious Blaney also is working at a manufacturer deficit in bookmakers’ eyes. At the bottom of the list are Blaney, Logan and Keselowski — all Ford drivers. Toyota has proven the strength of its equipment, and while Chevrolet-driving Larson maintains the strongest odds, that’s mainly because Larson would be a factor in whatever vehicle he sat in.
Still chasing his first race victory or even stage win during these playoffs, Blaney bears watching in this round. To be safe, though, we’d recommend he keep his distance from Elliott and Kevin Harvick.