After a thrilling regular-season finale at Daytona last weekend, the ten-race Chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship begins in earnest this Sunday. The NASCAR Playoffs kick off in style with the 72nd running of the historic Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The “Track Too Tough to Tame” resembles an egg in shape with the two ends being drastically different. Add in a rough, tire-eating surface and it is one of the toughest tracks on the series circuit to prepare for. Both previous driver stats and current season form will be critical to handicapping tha NASCAR odds and making NASCAR betting picks this weekend.
The following article offers a breakdown of the NASCAR odds and best NASCAR betting picks for Sunday night’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Cook Out Southern 500 Race Info
72nd Cook Out Southern 500
Date: Sunday, September 5, 2021
Start Time: 6 p.m. EST
Track: Darlington Raceway — Darlington, SC
Distance: 501.322 miles
Stages: Three (Laps 1-115; 116-230; 231-367)
Pole Sitter: Ryan Blaney
Defending Champion: Kevin Harvick
🏎 Check out the complete Cook Out Southern 500 starting lineup and race stats!
Cook Out Southern 500 NASCAR Betting Odds
The odds-on favorite to win the Cook Out Southern 500 and NASCAR Cup Series Championship is none other than the driver with the most wins (five) of anyone this season. It has been a dominant year for Kyle Larson (+300). After capturing the regular-season points championship last week, he now rolls into the NASCAR Playoffs with a solid cushion in the standings.
Larson is also the NASCAR betting favorite to win the season championship ahead of the first playoff race. Add in his excellent history and statistics at Darlington Raceway specifically and it’s safe to say the NASCAR odds got the favorite right.
Joe Gibbs Racing vs. Hendrick Motorsports
The NASCAR betting odds suggest that Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 will be dominated by the same two teams who accounted for six of the top seven finishers in the spring Darlington race. Behind favorite Kyle Larson, who, of course, drives for Hendrick Motorsports himself, six of the next eight drivers in terms of pricing are employed by either HMS or Joe Gibbs Racing.
All three of Larson’s Hendrick teammates make the cut. Chase Elliott (+950) will look to begin his NASCAR Cup Series Championship defense on a strong note. Meanwhile, William Byron (+1200) finished fourth here in the spring, his second consecutive top-5 at Darlington. Finally, Alex Bowman (+1800) has won three races this season and seems to have a knack for making something out of nothing.
The fleet of Joe Gibbs Racing contenders is spear-headed by Goodyear 400 winner, Martin Truex Jr. The No. 19 car dominated NASCAR’s first trip to South Carolina this season. While the team struggled over the second half of the season, they certainly proved capable of nailing the set-up for the “Track Too Tough to Tame”. Behind him, teammates Kyle Busch (+600) and Denny Hamlin (+700) are also drawing respect from the NASCAR betting market. The two finished third and fifth in the spring race, respectively.
General NASCAR Betting Tips for the Playoffs
With the NASCAR Playoffs set to begin this weekend, bettors have a new element to factor into their handicapping for the remainder of the season. The heightened stakes of the postseason can be twofold when it comes to potential effects on NASCAR betting.
The 16 drivers in the running for a championship will obviously be throwing everything they have at their setups in the coming weeks. At the same time, non-playoff drivers might also suffer a bit as race teams change up their allocation of resources. For two-car teams specifically where only one driver qualified for the postseason, there could very well be a drop in performance of the other car as extra time and money are put towards trying to bring home a championship.
Be sure to take all possible angles into account when making your NASCAR picks going forward.
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Cook Out Southern 500 NASCAR Betting Picks
Cook Out Southern 500 Race Winner: Kyle Larson (+300)
Instead of sexy, we’re going chalky with this week’s winner. Kyle Larson represents the perfect blend of stellar results this season and solid history at Darlington Raceway. He fell just a few laps short of running down Martin Truex Jr. for a win here back in the spring. Had that race been the same distance as Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, Larson would have undoubtedly found victory lane. Nonetheless, that runner-up finish was his fourth top-3 result in his last five starts at “The Lady in Black”. Larson’s average finish in his last seven starts at Darlington is an impressive 6.0. No finish has been worse than 14th. Bet against the No. 5 team at your own peril this weekend.
Other Cook Out Southern 500 NASCAR Betting Picks
Group C Winner: Tyler Reddick (+250)
It took a small miracle for the heavily damaged car of Tyler Reddick to last until the end of last week’s Daytona race. As a result, the 25-year-old secured the final spot in the NASCAR Playoffs. He is joined by one fellow playoff driver in Group C this week. Christopher Bell (+250) will also be driving for a championship while Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon (+275) and Matt DiBenedetto (+300) are on the outside looking in. Reddick’s Darlington stats stack up well when it comes to the four drivers in this group. Furthermore, his ability to run the high line will serve him well on Sunday. Look to back Reddick among this week’s NASCAR betting picks.
Top 5 Finish: Kevin Harvick (+145)
When it comes to drivers with a strong track record at Darlington Raceway, no one comes close to matching Kevin Harvick in recent years. His average finish over the last ten races is an astounding 3.6. The span includes three victories, including two in the last four races, and eight top-5 finishes. If not for the disappointing season for the No. 4 team and Stewart-Haas Racing overall, betting Harvick for a top-3 or an outright win would be very much in play. As things currently stand, plus-money on a top-5 serves as a solid happy medium.
Top 10 Finish: Kurt Busch (+140)
While his Darlington stats aren’t on par with Harvick’s, fellow NASCAR Cup Series veteran Kurt Busch has shown an ability to run well consistently at the track. A 35th-place DNF this spring is the only result worse than 15th in his last eight starts. Busch has scored five top-10s and a pair of top-3s over that same seven-race span. After a terrific second half of the season, look for the elder Busch brother to open the postseason strong at Darlington.
Group B Winner: William Byron (+300)
A season of strong finishes for young William Byron ran right through South Carolina back in the spring when he wound up fourth in the Goodyear 400. While Byron’s Darlington Raceway stats aren’t overly impressive thus far in his young career, he enters the Cook Out Southern 500 with back-to-back top-5 finishes at the track. At a track that was dominated by Chevy and Toyota in the spring, it just doesn’t make sense to have Byron as the Group B longshot behind a pair of Fords in Joey Logano (+225) and Brad Keselowski (+275). Given that teammate Alex Bowman (+275) has been wildly inconsistent in his previous Cup Series starts at Darlington, Byron carries plenty of NASCAR betting value at 3-1 odds.
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