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%).
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. Kyle Busch has done it three times, most recently in the Toyota Owners 400, and Chase Elliott has done it twice, most recently in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400.
Bettors bought plenty of Larson stock after his win at Fontana 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 prior to the Food City Dirt Race and with the exception of season-worst, outlier shares at Talladega – 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:
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. But following 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 (6% of tickets, 6.6% of the handle) and Kansas (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’s 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 weekend:
|Martin Truex Jr.||4.92%||5.00%|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||1.86%||1.25%|