NASCAR betting, odds: Can anyone catch Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson and William Byron at Gateway?

HMS has been dominant on intermediate tracks such as World Wide Technology Raceway

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, just on the other side of the Mississippi River from St. Louis, for this weekend’s Enjoy Illinois 300 (3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1). The unique mile-and-a-quarter speedway is hosting its second Cup Series race after being added to the calendar last year.

The Hendrick Motorsports duo of Kyle Larson and William Byron enter the weekend as the top two favorites for the second week in a row — and for good reason. The two have combined to lead 1,270 out of 3,943 laps this season and have won five of the 14 points-paying races this season in addition to the All-Star Race.

Larson enters the weekend at 5-to-1 odds to win, with Byron sitting at 7-to-1 according to BetMGM. Byron has slightly longer odds despite being quite proficient on intermediate tracks this season, winning three of six races.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 14: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Throwback Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 Castrol GTX Ford, speed around turn one during the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, 5, and William Byron, 24, are once again favorites entering a NASCAR race weekend. (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)

Here’s what else you need to know to bet the race this weekend:

The favorites

• Kyle Larson +500
• William Byron +700
• Denny Hamlin +900

The oddsmakers are clearly looking more at 2023 form than last year’s results to handicap this race, as none of these three finished higher than Larson’s 12th-place effort, and Hamlin was 10 laps down at the end. But Hamlin did win one of the intermediate track races Byron hasn’t this season – at Kansas Speedway, which has similar characteristics to Gateway.

Good midtier value

• Brad Keselowski +2500
• Ty Gibbs +3000

Keselowski finished 20th last year, but that was a 10-place improvement from his starting grid spot, so he got better as the day wore on. Keselowski also has an Xfinity Series win at the track. Gibbs wasn’t in this race last year, but he too has tasted success in lower series at Gateway, with two ARCA Menards Series to his name.

Don’t bet this driver

• Chase Briscoe +2500

Although Briscoe took the pole for last year’s race at Gateway and led the first 27 laps, he sank to a 24th-place finish. Combine that with his 18th-place average finish on intermediate tracks, and you have all the reasoning you need to avoid the 25-to-1 shot.

Looking for a long shot?

• Aric Almirola +5000

Meanwhile, Briscoe’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Almirola turned an eighth-place starting spot last year into a fifth-place finish. He also has three top-10 finishes in four career Truck Series starts at Gateway.