Kyle Larson
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NASCAR betting: Sportsbooks likely to be sweating Kyle Larson until Phoenix

Kyle Larson is not only the hottest driver on the track, he’s also the hottest bet in NASCAR futures at two of the country’s most prominent sportsbooks. 

At DraftKings, 22% of the handle wagered in the 2021 Cup Series Championship market has been on Larson. At BetMGM, Larson leads futures bets in terms of both handle and ticket count.

RELATED: NASCAR BetCenter | Odds for Sunday’s race at Nashville

In fact, the way things stand coming out of All-Star weekend and heading into Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, a title for the No. 5 Chevrolet represents the worst-case scenario for DraftKings’ NASCAR futures book. With the way Larson’s been running — three straight wins (including the non-points All-Star Race), three straight second-place finishes before that and large leads in stage wins and laps led this season — coupled with Hendrick Motorsports’ overall superiority, that’s a scenario certain to make the house sweat. 

“He’s got the right car and got the confidence right now,” Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told NASCAR.com.

BetMGM also has futures liability on Larson.

“Inevitably our biggest payouts are on the outsiders, such as Josh Bilicki, Corey LaJoie and Ryan Preece. For those with a more realistic chance of winning, Kyle Larson leads the way in liability by a long shot,” BetMGM Sports Trader Matt Rasp said in an email.

Here’s a look at the top five drivers in handle at three sportsbooks — DraftKings, BetMGM and SuperBook USA:

DraftKings BetMGM SuperBook
Kyle Larson (22%) Kyle Larson Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin (13%) Denny Hamlin Joey Logano
Chase Elliott (12%) Chase Elliott Chase Elliott
Martin Truex Jr. (9%) Kevin Harvick Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Busch (9%) Alex Bowman Alex Bowman

Here’s a look at the top five drivers in ticket count at three sportsbooks — DraftKings, BetMGM and SuperBook USA:

DraftKings BetMGM SuperBook
Denny Hamlin (13%) Kyle Larson Denny Hamlin
Kyle Larson (12%) Denny Hamlin Martin Truex Jr.
Chase Elliott (11%) Chase Elliott Joey Logano
Martin Truex Jr. (6%) Kevin Harvick Chase Elliott
Kyle Busch (6%) Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Larson

Larson has risen to the top of 2021 Cup Championship oddsboards throughout the betting market, as his price continues to tighten. While he’s listed as the 7/2 favorite (+350, or bet $100 to win $350) at SuperBook USA, where he opened at 10/1 odds, and a 11/4 favorite at BetMGM, he can be found at a more attractive 4/1 at both DraftKings (adjusted from a 9/1 opener) and Barstool Sportsbook.

Liability beyond Larson

In addition to Alex Bowman, on whom our friend Zack White has a significant position at long odds, the SuperBook would also lose on a 2021 championship by Denny Hamlin or Joey Logano, VP of risk management Ed Salmons said in a text message. The $5,500 bet that came on each driver to win the title at 8/1 odds are the largest written in the shop’s NASCAR futures book this season. Hamlin and Logano account for the first and second most futures handle at the SuperBook, respectively, per the chart above. 

At BetMGM, discounting drivers without a realistic chance to win the championship, Larson is followed in futures book liability by Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr and Bowman.

BetMGM wrote a $1,000 bet on Larson at 9/1 odds back in March, as well as an $800 wager on Logano at 8/1 in February, and $650 on Keselowski at 9/1 in March.

Based on the early odds for Sunday’s Ally 400 (as of Wednesday at noon ET), Larson isn’t expected to slow down any time soon. The No. 5 is the easy favorite in Nashville, listed at +275 at BetMGM, before a sizable gap to Truex Jr. at +550, Elliott at +750, Hamlin at +800, then Kyle Busch at +800. 

Yes, it’s a long season, with the playoffs and Cup Series Championship in Phoenix sure to produce some unexpected results, but trends in both the betting market and on the track suggest the rest of the field has plenty to do to catch the No. 5.

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.