Bookmakers were quick to catch up to the immediate dominance displayed by Kyle Larson in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, shortening the odds on the No. 5 Chevrolet to +550 (bet $100 to win $550) with Larson in second place at the competition caution after Lap 26. Larson was priced at 10-to-1 odds (+1000) at Barstool Sportsbook and BetMGM when the green flag dropped at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
While Larson’s in-race odds did not return to the +1000 opening number, bettors had the opportunity to play him at +800 when he finished Stage 1 in 12th place. At that point of the race, leader Brad Keselowski and second place Chase Elliott shared favorite status, each priced at +500, followed by Ryan Blaney (+650), and then Larson and Joey Logano at +800.
Moving up to ninth for the restart, Larson’s price was trimmed to +700, while second-place Keselowski was posted as the clear favorite at +400.
The odds at which Larson was available between Stages 1 and 2 were as good as they were going to get for Larson backers, and there’s a lesson here for in-race NASCAR bettors.
That’s because it didn’t take long for Larson to pick through the field and overtake Keselowski for the lead on Lap 107, prompting an adjustment on the eventual winner to +450 at Barstool, and his price got shorter from there.
Larson’s odds bounced between +300 as he led the Final Stage restart and +450 when he emerged 15th from pit road with 83 laps to go, and soon after he was “minus money”, meaning bettors had to risk more than they could profit. Larson was -200 (bet $200 to win $100) with 30 laps to go and as skinny as -2500 when live betting closed at Barstool with about three laps left until the checkered flag.
The lesson is that timing is critical when it comes to maximizing your wagering dollar.
The best time to have bet Larson on Sunday was before the race started, when he could be had at 10-to-1 odds. But that’s an easy assessment to make after the fact, as such an investment would have required a prediction of Larson’s first-ever victory on a 1.5-mile track without the benefit of seeing how well his car was about to perform in Vegas.
Live (or in-race) betting, though, affords gamblers the chance to evaluate drivers as they compete in that day’s event. While you may not get as good a price as you would have before the race, you’re able to make a more informed decision after watching some laps, pit stops and restarts.
With Larson’s speed evident from the jump Sunday, the +700s and +800s he was offered at after Stage 1 — or even the +450s when his strength was more pronounced in the later stages — surely piqued the interest of astute NASCAR bettors.
Top 3 for the 18
Kyle Busch didn’t seem to love his car Sunday, complaining of tightness early, “Can’t keep on the gas and keep it turning,” and with 88 laps to go lamenting, “I’m slow as molasses and way too tight.”
Lap 179 – “I’m slow as molasses and way too tight.” @KyleBusch
He is running P10. pic.twitter.com/tU9t3GdopS
— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) March 7, 2021
But Busch and his new crew chief Ben Beshore figured things out well enough for the No. 18 Toyota to make a late run and finish third.
Busch fans and bettors who kept the faith had the opportunity to play him at nice odds in the Top 3 market offered in-race on the Barstool Sportsbook app. Upon the Stage 2 restart, the Las Vegas native was +450 for a podium finish, and a fat +500 as the Final Stage kicked off. His Top 3 price was just +300 ahead of the race.
Other in-race betting markets
In addition to the outright (to win) and Top 3 markets, Barstool Sportsbook offered a sampling of head-to-head matchup props for NASCAR fans’ live betting enjoyment.
At the first commercial break, Martin Truex Jr. was a -125 favorite over a struggling Kevin Harvick (-106), and there were two pick ’em matchups on the board, each side priced at -115: Keselowski vs. Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin vs. Chase Elliott.
With Harvick getting shuffled back in the field, the Truex vs. Harvick prop was the first taken off the board, while the two others remained open for wagering during the second stage.
So if you’re interested in betting matchup props live, get them before they’re gone.
DraftKings Sportsbook also offered live odds on the outright and Top 3 markets throughout the Pennzoil 400, and director Johnny Avello says there’s more to come in the future.
Said Avello in a text message, “We’re looking at expanding the NASCAR in running (betting options).”
Marcus DiNitto is a writer and editor living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been covering sports for nearly two-and-a-half decades and sports betting for more than 10 years. His first NASCAR betting experience was in 1995 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he went 0-for-3 on his matchup picks. Read his articles and follow him on Twitter; do not bet his picks.