Tuesday, December 06, 2022

NASCAR betting: Kyle Larson enters Phoenix as the favorite for a third straight week

Consider Kyle Larson the favorite entering every race weekend until further notice.

The 2021 Cup Series champion is the favorite for a third consecutive week ahead of Sunday’s race at Phoenix (3:30 pm ET, Fox). Larson won at Phoenix in November to capture his first Cup Series title and has finished first and second in his previous two races as the favorite in 2022.

Sunday’s race is the first at Phoenix with NASCAR’s new Cup Series car and it’s no coincidence that the top five favorites are all drivers who have been a part of the championship final four in recent years. Larson is followed by Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. at +700 and Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin at +800.

It’s hard to think that anything about Sunday’s race is going to be a preview of what we’ll see in the 2022 winner-take-all season finale. Teams are still in the infancy stages of their development with this car. The gains they make over the course of the season are going to be far more significant to their prospects of running well in November than most anything they learn on Sunday.

But that lack of car development should hopefully lead to another good race. The races at Auto Club and Las Vegas have been nice changes from the aero-dominated racing that NASCAR put upon itself and its teams the last few years. We’ll see if the trend continues at Phoenix.

Here’s what you need to know to bet the race. All odds are via BetMGM.

Kyle Larson Is The Defending Cup Series Champion And The Favorite For All Nascar Cup Series Races Until Further Notice.  (Photo By Gary Nastase/Lvms/Icon Sportswire Via Getty Images)

Kyle Larson is the defending Cup Series champion and the favorite for all NASCAR Cup Series races until further notice. (Photo by Gary Nastase/LVMS/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The favorites

  • Kyle Larson (+400)

  • Kyle Busch (+700)

  • Martin Truex Jr. (+700)

  • Chase Elliott (+800)

  • Denny Hamlin (+800)

All five of these drivers have at least one win at Phoenix. Busch has three and Hamlin has two. Elliott won in the fall of 2020 to win the Cup Series title. Truex won in the spring of 2021. Hamlin and Busch’s most recent wins came in 2019. You can see why these drivers are the favorites when there’s not much car data to build off of when making these odds.

Good mid-tier value

  • Kevin Harvick (+1800)

  • Alex Bowman (+2000)

At 46, it’s easy to posit that Harvick is past his prime as a Cup Series driver. But he also has nine wins at Phoenix. If we’re betting that a driver’s familiarity and past success at Phoenix will be even more of an impact than normal, why not go with the guy with the most Phoenix success?

That standard does not apply to Bowman, however. He has just one top-10 finish and an average finish of 23.8 in 13 starts at Phoenix. But Hendrick has been fast so far and it’s not hard to envision him running in the top 10 for most of the race.

Don’t be this driver

Almirola has shown flashes of speed so far during his final Cup Series season. And he’s finished in the top 10 in six of his last nine Phoenix starts. But it’s hard to see him contending for a win.

Looking for a long shot?

Busch has passed a ton of drivers so far this season and he’s been solid at Phoenix throughout his career. Busch hasn’t finished in the top 10 since the 2020 spring race but he has a win and 20 top-10 finishes in 38 starts at the track.

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