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NASCAR Cup Series Toyota 500 Race Guide and Betting Preview

NASCAR racing returned with a bang this past weekend, with The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The sport has joined the UFC in being at the forefront of bringing live sporting action back to the United States amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin Harvick claimed Sunday’s return race, but there is no rest for the weary as far as the Cup Series drivers are concerned. The race action returns Wednesday, May 20th, with some Toyota 500 betting action.

The Toyota 500 is named based on its distance in kilometers, which equates to roughly 310 miles and 228 laps on the 1.25-mile-long Darlington Raceway.

Read on for all the vital Toyota 500 betting information to make you some mid-week cash!

Erik Jones nascar
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Toyota 500 Betting Info

Location: Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Length: 228 laps, 311.4 miles (500k)
Stages: Stage 1 Laps 1-60; Stage 2 Laps 61-125
Pole Sitter: Ryan Preece

Toyota 500 Driver Stats

Kevin Harvick did more than just win Sunday’s Real Heroes 400. He dominated. Harvick led 159 of the race’s 293 laps. The only other drivers to lead any significant number of laps were pole-sitter Brad Keselowski (80) and runner-up finisher Alex Bowman (41). Harvick’s win made him the fourth different driver to enter victory lane on the season.

Other race winners prior to the COVID-19 break were Joey Logano (Las Vegas, Phoenix), Denny Hamlin (Daytona) and Alex Bowman (Fontana). Several other driver statistical categories worth noting are below.

Top 5 Finishes in 2020

3 — Kevin Harvick

2 — Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott

1 — 10 Drivers Tied

Laps Led in 2020

  1. Kevin Harvick-318
  2. Brad Keselowski-198
  3. Chase Elliott-186
  4. Alex Bowman-154
  5. Joey Logano-120

Average Finishing Position at Darlington

(Drivers with 4+ starts at the track)

  1. Erik Jones-5.5
  2. Denny Hamlin-7.6
  3. Brad Keselowski-10.9
  4. Martin Truex Jr.-11.2
  5. Kyle Busch-12.0
  6. Austin Dillon-12.3
  7. Ryan Newman-12.7
  8. Jimmie Johnson-13.3
  9. Kevin Harvick-13.8
  10. Chase Elliott-15.0

Driver Rating in 2020

Credit: The Motor Racing Network

*The Driver Rating formula combines Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps and Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum score per race is 150 points*

Darlington Raceway Overview

Many consider Darlington Raceway to be the most unique and difficult track to run in the entire NASCAR circuit. The narrow corners require drivers to run up tight to the wall in order to maintain any significant speed. The “Darlington Stripe” that often shows on the side of the cars following an entire race of running along the wall was coined as a result of this racing strategy.

Darlington is also noted for causing heavy tire wear. This makes pit strategies and timing immensely important late in races. Tires that could perhaps take a car to the finish line at a different track will likely not hold up for the same amount of time at Darlington. 

Darlington Raceway Betting Trends

When it comes to any one driver having a real handle on Darlington Raceway, there is none to be found. Including Sunday’s race, the last five Darlington races have all been won by different drivers. Going back even further, no driver has won at the track more than once in the last 15 races, except for Kevin Harvick, who’s win Sunday paired with a 2014 triumph to give him two victories at the track in that span.

Concerning car manufacturers, Harvick’s win on Sunday gave Ford two wins in the last three races, while Toyota has won four of the last six races at the track they call “Too Tough To Tame.” Interestingly, a Chevrolet has not won at the track since 2014.

Toyota 500 Best Bets

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Race Winner: Erik Jones | +2000

Despite only being in his fifth Cup Series season, Erik Jones has shown a knack for racing at Darlington. He won at the track last year and earned an eighth place finish in Sunday’s race, after starting 20th. With that, he has now finished top-10 in all four of his Cup Series starts at the track, with two top-five finishes. With the absence of qualifying, NASCAR determined the starting grid for Wednesday night’s race by inverting the finishing order of the top-20 from Sunday. Jones will be starting 13th, putting him ahead of some of the better finishers from Sunday from the jump. The 20-1 odds aren’t doing Jones’ prior success at Darlington enough justice.

Other Picks

Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney | +1400

Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski | +1000

Manufacturer of Winning Car: Toyota | +185

Top Toyota Car: Erik Jones | +550

Best Finishing Position Matchup: Matt DiBenedetto (vs. Clint Bowyer) | -115

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