Andrew Doughty, BetMGM

Christopher Bell fell short of a remarkable win in Richmond last weekend but another top-10 finish was enough to keep building betting support for a NASCAR Cup Series championship.

The sixth-place finish in the Toyota Owners 400 gave Bell four consecutive top-10 finishes for the third time in his career. And since that streak began, he’s been the most popular driver in championship odds.

From March 12 through April 2, Bell’s handle share — his percentage of the total dollars bet on all NASCAR Cup Series championship winner odds — has increased by 3.7 percentage points, by far the most of any driver. He now sits behind only Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin:

  1. Kyle Larson (+525): 11.4%
  2. Denny Hamlin (+550): 11.2%
  3. Christopher Bell (+650): 10.7%
  4. William Byron (+575): 8.2%
  5. Chase Elliott (+1400): 8.1%

Byron (+1.9) is the only other driver whose handle share climbed by more than 1 percentage point over that time. 

Interest in Hamlin, meanwhile, has cooled despite two wins in three starts. Among the 34 other drivers available in championship odds, only five saw a bigger drop in handle share (-0.5). All but one of those drivers (Chase Elliott, +1400) is outside the top 10 odds.

While Hamlin did see a slight increase in tickets — 9.6% to 10.3% — it appears he’s only commanding smaller bets during a hot streak that’s pushed him to third in the points, only 18 behind the leader Martin Truex Jr. 

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