Southern 500 Odds, Predictions & Picks for NASCAR at Darlington
David Caraviello | 20 mins
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The NASCAR regular season closed with yet one more surprise, as +2800-to-win Austin Dillon held on through a rain delay and then delivered a love tap to Austin Cindric to prevail at Daytona. It’s been a wacky year full of high-value drivers delivering high finishes for bettors. And now we reach the point where all that is supposed to change.
The way to the NASCAR championship under this current format is through Victory Lane, meaning the playoffs have historically been dominated by elite drivers in title contention. We’ve certainly seen that in the opener, which 11 times in 18 years has been won by a driver who’s gone on to finish in the top four in the final standings. In fact, just four drivers have won playoff openers over the past decade: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski.
Indeed, this is supposed to be where the big boys shove everyone else out of the way. But the current next-gen car has changed the game this season, to an obvious degree. Now drivers and NASCAR betting fans wait to see if it changes the playoffs as well.
2022 Cook Out Southern 500 Odds
|Driver||Win||Top 3||Top 5|
|Kyle Larson||+600 ➜||+170 ➜||-110 ➜|
|Denny Hamlin||+600 ➜||+170 ➜||-110 ➜|
|Chase Elliott||+700 ➜||+200 ➜||+100 ➜|
|Tyler Reddick||+700 ➜||+200 ➜||+100 ➜|
|Ross Chastain||+900 ➜||+250 ➜||+140 ➜|
|Kyle Busch||+900 ➜||+290 ➜||+125 ➜|
|Joey Logano||+1000 ➜||+260 ➜||+120 ➜|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1100 ➜||+290 ➜||+140 ➜|
Odds via DraftKings ➜ and current as of publication.
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Southern 500 Expert Picks & Predictions
Chase Elliott To Win
Odds: +700 at FanDuel ➜
Until proven otherwise, for the first of our NASCAR picks we’re sticking with what we’ve seen over nearly two decades of playoff racing in NASCAR: The top championship contenders flipping the switch right from the beginning. Elliott’s team should be able to lean heavily on the notes from his fifth-place run at Darlington in May, and in recent years the Hendrick standard-bearer has learned to show more patience on a track that demands it.
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Chevrolet to Finish 1-2
Odds: +700 at DraftKings ➜
A fun special that saves you from having to choose between Larson and Reddick, who are both very strong at Darlington. This NASCAR odds wager also allows you to loop in less likely Chevy contenders like Dillon (who was runner-up in the Southern 500 in 2020) and William Byron (who has two victories this season, and two Darlington top-fives).
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Kevin Harvick Top Ford
Odds: +350 at DraftKings ➜
It’s a close call here on betting apps between Harvick and Logano—the former has run better over his career at this track, the latter has run better as of late. But Harvick’s current run of success at Darlington is impossible to ignore. The last time he finished worse than ninth on the egg-shaped oval, Barack Obama was in the White House and “Gangnam Style” topped the charts.
Southern 500 Betting Tips
The presence of the Southern 500 as playoff opener only tilts the playing field further in the direction of the circuit’s top drivers. In the history of the track’s 500-miler, first held in 1950, there have been only three real outliers: Lake Speed in 1998, Regan Smith in 2011 and Erik Jones in 2019. The best active driver at Darlington is Hamlin, who has a series-best 7.8 average finish at the track, and whose four wins include the playoff opener last season.
Harvick (three) and Truex (two) are the only other active drivers with multiple wins at Darlington. Harvick, in fact, has an active streak of 13 consecutive single-digit finishes at the Lady in Black, an impressive run at a very difficult track that dates back to 2013. Co-favorite Larson has also historically been very good at Darlington, with five top-three finishes and a career average of 8.9 that ranks second behind Hamlin among active drivers.
Tyler Reddick is a younger driver who’s really taken to Darlington, where he was runner-up in the spring. Top playoff seed Chase Elliott has been a bit crash-prone here, but has also been seventh or better in two of his last three starts. And then there’s savvy spring race winner Joey Logano, who’s been eighth or better in four of his last five at Darlington, and is coming off a strong finish to the regular season.
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Cook Out Southern 500 Time, Date and TV
When: Sunday, 6 p.m.
Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway