NASCAR Championship odds update: Larson leaps to lead
Hendrick Motorsports is in the midst of its most successful year since Jimmie Johnson’s prime, and newest driver Kyle Larson is leading the charge.
After picking up his third win of the season at Sonoma last Sunday – tying Martin Truex Jr. for the most in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021 in the process – Larson saw his championship odds drop to +400. He’s now favored to hoist the Bill France Cup at Phoenix this November, with 2020 NASCAR champion Chase Elliott sitting in second at +650.
Is Larson the best bet on the board, or is there someone else offering better value? Here’s our analysis.
NASCAR Cup Series Championship 2021
Sat, November 6 2021, 5:00 PM
Truex Jr, Martin
The case for Larson
Even after winning his first race of the year at Las Vegas in just his fourth start with his new team, Larson was available at +800 as recently as last month, and +550 as recently as last week. But the No. 5 Chevrolet driver has gone on a five-race tear, finishing no worse than second while picking up two straight victories at Charlotte and Sonoma. His ability to handle short, long and road courses will help him immensely come playoff time.
Larson has led the most laps in the Cup Series by a healthy margin over Denny Hamlin (1,162 to 756), and is tied with Hamlin for the most Top 5s (nine).
The case against Larson
Though Elliott was able to win the 2020 NASCAR Championship with relatively little experience, Larson’s nine-win résumé doesn’t exactly ensure him entry to the Hall of Fame right now. This dramatic odds movement on Larson seems like it’s coming from prisoners of the moment, and not highly rational bettors.
We are still many weeks away from the start of the playoffs, let alone the championship race, and a lot can happen in the interim.
Truex holds better value
Sitting as low as +550 at the start of June, Truex has suddenly jumped up to +750 following his third-place effort at Sonoma. His two-race winning streak at that circuit was halted, but it’s not as though he ran a bad race. In fact, it may mark the beginning of another fine run for the No. 19 Toyota driver.
Truex became the first Cup Series driver to win three races in 2021 before anyone had even won their second event. That includes his March 14 victory at Phoenix, which will host the championship-deciding race. Truex has a leg-up over Larson in terms of playoff experience, as he already has a championship win under his belt from 2017. His odds are unlikely to get much better in the coming weeks.