NASCAR betting: Is market overextended on Kyle Larson in Cup Series championship?


Of course Kyle Larson is the betting favorite heading into Phoenix Raceway for Sunday’s Cup Series championship. But odds shorter than 2-to-1 is rare territory in NASCAR outright markets, and a price at which it’s difficult to find value.

The favorite has opened at less than +200 at the market-making SuperBook USA exactly three times this Cup season — Chase Elliott twice on road courses and Larson in July at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he failed to deliver for bettors, finishing 18th in the midst of a ridiculous run of success similar to the one he’s on now.

RELATED: Bet Center | Odds from BetMGM

“You have to make Larson a strong favorite. I don’t think there’s any way around it, and that’s kind of been the case for the latter half of the season,” sharp bettor Blake Phillips told NASCAR.com this week. “Does that mean he’s a lock to win? Absolutely not. …

“I just don’t think you can make him 2-to-1. I don’t think he’s that strong, especially at Phoenix.”

Here are the odds from four sportsbooks — the SuperBook, plus three NASCAR sponsors — to win Sunday’s race, followed by odds to win the 2021 title.

ODDS TO WIN SUNDAY’S RACE

Driver SuperBook BetMGM Barstool WynnBET
Kyle Larson +160 +175 +190 +175
Chase Elliott +350 +350 +350 +350
Denny Hamlin +400 +400 +450 +425
Martin Truex Jr. +500 +450 +500 +500
William Byron +2500 +1800 +1800 +1800
Kyle Busch +2500 +1600 +1800 +1800
Brad Keselowski +3000 +2000 +2200 +2000
Joey Logano +3000 +2000 +2200 +2200
Ryan Blaney +3000 +2000 +2500 +2200
Kevin Harvick +4000 +2500 +2500 +2500
Alex Bowman +3000 +2500 +3000 +3000
Christopher Bell +4000 +4000 +4000 +4000
Kurt Busch +10000 +5000 +6000 +6600

ODDS TO WIN 2021 TITLE

Driver SuperBook BetMGM Barstool WynnBET
Kyle Larson +150 +140 +165 +165
Chase Elliott +300 +275 +255 +250
Denny Hamlin +350 +350 +300 +300
Martin Truex Jr. +400 +450 +365 +425

While two of Larson’s nine wins this season have come on ovals that employ the 750-horsepower, low-downforce package, he hasn’t finished in the top five in any of the four races at Phoenix and its two most comparable tracks — the short, flat layouts of Richmond and Loudon. He’s led just nine total laps during those four races.

Speed is speed, however, and the No. 5 has been the quickest car from the best garage week in and week out this season.

“Hendrick has (had) the fastest cars at almost all the races all year long, so I find it hard to believe they’re not going to be the fastest cars again,” said Ed Salmons, vice president of risk management at the SuperBook.

Elliott, though, has been less than spectacular on 750-hp tracks in the second half of the season. While Larson’s Hendrick teammate has a solid Phoenix history, claiming last year’s title here, some handicappers are not expecting a repeat.

“The driver I have the lowest hopes for is Chase Elliott, which sounds strange,” Phillips said. “Elliot has some great finishes at Phoenix, but going into this weekend, he’s the driver that I have the least expectation for. “

Onto Gibbs …

We hope you heeded advice we relayed to you back in July to consider a Truex futures wager at odds ranging from 9/1 to 10/1. We feel good about having that ticket in our pocket with the No. 19 in the championship mix at fewer than half of those prices.

Jim Sannes, the purveyor of that advice, said he’s considering hedging his Truex futures bet with a play this weekend on Hamlin +450, a price offered at FanDuel.

“Problem is my simulations show only the tiniest amount of value there (18.3% versus 18.2% implied),” Sannes, a quantitative NASCAR betting and fantasy analyst at numbersFire, said this week in a direct message. “So … I’m likely holding off until after practice Friday to see if anything opens up. I’d be more open to betting Hamlin at a very short number if he’s fast there.”

Truex is the longest shot remaining in the Championship 4, but he won in March at Phoenix and in September at Richmond. His other two wins this season have also come on 750-hp tracks — Martinsville and Darlington.

Phillips said he jumped aboard the Truex futures train mid-season as well, with bets riding into Sunday at 9/1 and better, a position he’s obviously liking. Oddsmakers, in fact, have Truex mispriced for Phoenix, the bettor believes.

“If you look at the odds for the Championship 4, Truex is more of a long shot than Elliott. I think that’s one where it’s slightly flipped,” Phillips said.

Stealing Their Thunder?

Since the 2014 implementation of the current format — whereby the top finisher among the Championship 4 in the final race is crowned champ — the last race has been won by a title contender all seven times. Guys not named Larson, Elliott, Hamlin or Truex are not given much of a chance Sunday, as the oddsboard attests.

We discussed that thinking last week, though, and Alex Bowman went on to cash tickets at long odds.

That result may tempt bettors into playing a long shot to win Sunday, but if there’s a driver outside of the Championship 4 you like, consider the different NASCAR markets sportsbooks offer.

“I’m looking hard at Christopher Bell, just likely not for an outright due to the championship contenders.” Sannes said. “He grades out really, really well by my numbers because of what he has done on the short, flat tracks.”

Bell is offered at +1000 at Barstool for a top-three finish, odds that justify a play, per Sannes’ model.

As for an outright bet on a non-contender, it’s probably best to steer clear.

“The thing I learned about the last race is you can almost take every driver not in the four and just make them 100-to-1, because they have no chance,” Salmons said. “Last year in Phoenix, I posted (Kevin Harvick) at 25-to-1, and people were betting him like they were stealing. He just hung around in fifth to seventh all day and stayed away.”

Marcus DiNitto is Senior News Editor at Gaming Today and has been covering sports business for more than 20 years and sports betting for about 10. NASCAR is among the many sports he bets — and typically loses — on. Follow him on Twitter; do not bet his picks.

MUST WATCH