Getty Images

BetMGM: Public’s favorite NASCAR Cup Series drivers this season

Kyle Larson hasn’t picked up where he left off last season, but that hasn’t stopped the betting public from pounding the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion at BetMGM.

Three months after capping one of the most dominant seasons in NASCAR history with a win in Arizona, Larson was the overwhelmingly popular pick to win the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum with 24% of the sportsbook handle, nearly 11 percentage points higher than the next closest driver, Kyle Busch (13.4%).

RELATED: New championship odds | 2022 Cup Series schedule

It was the first of eight races in which Larson commanded both the highest ticket and handle shares. 

Only four other drivers have done that in 2022, and only two have done so at least twice. Busch has done it three times, most recently in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, and Chase Elliott has done it twice, most recently in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Speedway.

Bettors bought plenty of Larson stock after his win at Auto Club Speedway before cooling, relatively speaking, on him after incidents resulted in finishes of 30th or worse in consecutive weeks for the first time since late in the 2017 season. But the public returned before the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and with the exception of season-worst, outlier shares at Talladega Superspeedway – sixth-most tickets and fifth-most handle – they haven’t left.

Through 15 races, Larson has 12.3% of the total handle bet on race-winner odds, by far the most among all drivers and nearly three times the combined total for the only drivers with multiple wins this season, William Byron (2.9%) and Ross Chastain (1.9%).

Neither Byron nor Chastain have posted the highest ticket or handle shares for a race this season, and both sit behind six winless drivers. The pair has the same number of combined wins (four) as the four most-bet drivers:

Driver Tickets Handle Wins
Kyle Larson 8.46% 12.27% 1
Chase Elliott 7.48% 9.02% 1
Kyle Busch 7.09% 8.78% 1
Denny Hamlin 6.92% 8.76% 1

Even after his win at Talladega – for which he had just 2.9% of the handle, 15th-highest in the field – Chastain was buried at 13th in tickets and 11th in handle at Dover Motor Speedway. But after a third-place showing with a “fifth-place car” in the DuraMAX Drydene 400, Chastain has been on the public’s radar.

Chastain had back-to-back season-highs in both ticket and handle share at Darlington Raceway (6% of tickets, 6.6% of the handle) and Kansas Speedway (6.8% and 8.7%). Only Larson, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Busch had a higher handle share last weekend. 

And while the 29-year-old “Melon Man” didn’t cash race-winner tickets in either start, it appears the public is taking notice. That’s not the case for Byron, who has had more than 4% of the handle only once this season and was outside the top 10 at Kansas.

Here’s a full breakdown of the most (and least) popular drivers for public betting entering All-Star Race weekend:

Driver Tickets Handle
Kyle Larson 8.46% 12.27%
Chase Elliott 7.48% 9.02%
Kyle Busch 7.09% 8.78%
Denny Hamlin 6.92% 8.76%
Joey Logano 6.37% 7.34%
Ryan Blaney 5.20% 6.16%
Martin Truex Jr. 4.92% 5.00%
Brad Keselowski 4.78% 4.98%
Kevin Harvick 3.95% 3.80%
Tyler Reddick 3.45% 3.21%
Christopher Bell 2.93% 2.85%
Alex Bowman 2.83% 2.74%
William Byron 2.82% 2.88%
Bubba Wallace 2.64% 2.14%
Ross Chastain 2.18% 1.89%
Austin Cindric 2.18% 1.63%
Chase Briscoe 2.03% 1.55%
Austin Dillon 1.91% 1.42%
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.86% 1.25%
Kurt Busch 1.85% 1.49%
Daniel Suárez 1.83% 1.37%
Erik Jones 1.69% 1.21%
Aric Almirola 1.41% 1.01%
Cole Custer 1.39% 0.77%
Michael McDowell 1.35% 0.88%
Chris Buescher 1.30% 0.88%
Harrison Burton 1.14% 0.76%
Ty Dillon 1.07% 0.47%
Justin Haley 0.98% 0.59%
AJ Allmendinger 0.78% 0.51%
Corey LaJoie 0.76% 0.36%
Todd Gilliland 0.52% 0.22%
Cody Ware 0.50% 0.19%
Noah Gragson 0.47% 0.28%
Greg Biffle 0.43% 0.23%
BJ McLeod 0.43% 0.14%
Daniel Hemric 0.42% 0.22%
David Ragan 0.35% 0.21%
Landon Cassill 0.24% 0.11%
Jacques Villeneuve 0.20% 0.12%
JJ Yeley 0.17% 0.05%
Kaz Grala 0.17% 0.09%
Josh Bilicki 0.14% 0.03%
Ryan Preece 0.09% 0.04%
Garrett Smithley 0.08% 0.02%
Boris Said 0.06% 0.02%
Justin Allgaier 0.05% 0.01%
Joey Hand 0.03% 0.01%
Timmy Hill 0.03% 0.02%
Josh Williams 0.03% 0.01%
Loris Hezemans 0.02% 0.00%
Andy Lally 0.02% 0.00%