DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 05: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, congratulates Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Offerpad Toyota, in the Ruoff Mortgage victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 05, 2021 in Darlington, South Carolina. (
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin Makes Cup Champion Prediction

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship will be decided this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Denny Hamlin isn't one of the four drivers gunning for the title, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a favorite to win it all.

He will have his eyes on the battle between Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and William Byron, as those four battle it out for the championship crown.

Hamlin talked about the chances for each of the drivers on the new episode of "Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin." He admitted that Blaney looks to be the favorite heading into the weekend.

"I do, I do," Hamlin responded to co-host Jared Allen's question if he thought Blaney was the favorite heading to Phoenix. "I think that he's been really good at that track. Not just historically, I think that he's been good at that track in the Next Gen era. That matters. You can look at all the past stats that you want, it doesn't matter. It's who's been good in the Next Gen era, and Blaney has been. I think that he has a really fast speed right now. This looks eerily similar to Joey Logano from last year. ... How can you not consider him a favorite? He's the hot hand. He's fast right now. They've clicked on something, or they've found something that's greatly increased their speed."

Though Hamlin sees how Blaney is the favorite, he isn't his actual choice to get the job done on Sunday. He believes that Larson will capture his second Cup championship on Sunday.

"You've got (Kyle) Larson, (William) Byron, (Christopher) Bell, and (Ryan) Blaney. I think that we saw the first chink in the armor with Byron at Martinsville. Like, I genuinely think he was nervous. It's very easy to get panicked. I've been there a thousand times. So, this is going to be his first go-round at the final four, I think he's going to be nervous. That's just my general feel," Hamlin said. "I think Larson will be, he's been here. Now the year that Larson won the championship at Phoenix, he was by far the worst car in the field of four, and then had some good circumstances work out, but he's going to race freer. I think Larson is going to be himself. I don't think he's going to alter too much for the way he puts his car on the edge."

Based on the amount of raw speed, Blaney and Larson seem to have the edge. According to Hamlin, that is going to play a big role in what happens Sunday. Hamlin picked Larson because of that speed and how strong his pit crew is. When it comes down to it, those are always the biggest factor in a race.

It takes the team to win the championship in NASCAR, not just the driver, and Larson's crew has been one of the best.

Hopefully, Hamlin hasn't given Larson any bad voodoo for Sunday by picking him.

More: NASCAR Championship 4: Why William Byron Will Win It All