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NASCAR Cook Out Southern 500 Odds, Expert Picks & Best Bets For This Weekend

David Caraviello for Bookies.com

David Caraviello  | 20 mins

NASCAR Cook Out Southern 500 Odds, Expert Picks & Best Bets For This Weekend

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It’s supposed to be the time of year when the top contenders for the NASCAR championship take control and begin deciding things among themselves. The NASCAR playoffs, and particularly the opener, had long been dominated by the sport’s elite—until Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace and Chris Buescher won the first three playoff races last year.

Buescher wouldn’t be a surprise this year, given that he’s already won three times, including the regular season finale last weekend at Daytona. 

But it was downright stunning to watch +4000 bet Jones stun the title contenders in last season’s playoff opener at Darlington, a cranky old track with a list of past winners that reads like a Hall of Fame roster. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson are +500 NASCAR odds co-favorites Sunday night at the Lady in Black, in a classic 500-miler that tests concentration as well as car control.

Jones, who unbelievably owns a pair of Southern 500 titles, joins Regan Smith, Ricky Craven and Lake Speed on a very short list of surprise winners at a track that’s been in operation since 1950. 

A second straight betting apps underdog winner would be highly out of character for Darlington, particularly given how the frontrunners in next-gen car development have been caught by the pack. This Sunday we’d expect vintage Darlington—a lot of cars scraping the outside wall, and a championship-caliber driver in Victory Lane.

NASCAR Cook Out Southern 500 Odds

Odds via DraftKings and current as of publication. Check out our DraftKings Review

Cook Out Southern 500 Betting Tips

Just eight active drivers own victories at Darlington, a list led by four-time winner Denny Hamlin, whose most recent triumph came in the Southern 500 in 2021. 

The soon-to-be-retired Kevin Harvick owns three Darlington wins, part of a sustained run of excellence at the egg-shaped track that’s seen him finish in the top five 12 times in his past 15 starts. Harvick was also the runner-up to winner William Byron in the track’s spring race.

Truex has won at Darlington twice, most recently in the spring of 2021, but he’s had horrible luck there recently—his past three races have ended in a crash, a water pump failure, and a crash. Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch all own one career Darlington victory, while Hamlin has the best career average finish among active drivers at 7.7. 

The best driver without a victory at Darlington is Larson, who’s finished runner-up three times at the track—including once back in his Chip Ganassi days—and owns a career average finish of 10.5.

Keselowski has finished seventh and fourth in his past two Darlington starts, while his RFK teammate Buescher was 10th in the spring. Tyler Reddick has been excellent at Darlington in the current car, with a second and a third there last season. 

Higher-value options would include Justin Haley (third last spring, eighth this spring), Wallace (ninth and fifth in his past two Darlington starts), and Michael McDowell (seventh and sixth in last year’s two races).

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Cook Out Southern 500 Best Bets

William Byron to Win

Odds: +800 at DraftKings

The last driver to sweep two races in a season at Darlington was Jimmie Johnson in 2004, so Byron is vying to join some rather elite company. 

The extra 100 laps between the spring race and the Southern 500 make a huge difference, but Byron has weathered them before in a fifth-place finish in 2020. He enters the playoffs on a nice run after winning at Watkins Glen and finishing eighth at Daytona, and his average finish over his past six Darlington starts is 10th.

Kevin Harvick Top 5

Odds: +185 at DraftKings

Harvick’s Darlington record is ridiculous—take away an exhaust failure in last year’s Southern 500, and he has single-digit finishes all the way back to his final year with RCR in 2013. 

That makes for an average finish of 5.6 over a decade on a very difficult track, which is crazy. Harvick’s runner-up performance in the Darlington spring race remains his best result of this season, and he’s shown very solid form in recent oval races at Michigan, Pocono and New Hampshire.

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Brad Keselowski Top 5

Odds: +225 at DraftKings

Buescher may have won last week at Daytona, but it was his teammate Keselowski who shoved him to victory in the draft. It was just the latest excellent run for a driver who still doesn’t have a victory this season, despite a string of great finishes—fourth at Michigan, sixth at Richmond, fifth at Loudon, sixth at Atlanta—on ovals throughout the summer. 

BK’s fourth-place run in the spring was his third top-seven result in four races at Darlington, where his career average finish is 11.7.

Cook Out Southern 500 Time, Date and TV

When: Sunday, 6 p.m. EDT

Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway


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About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.