NASCAR Cook Out Southern 500 2023: Race Preview and Best Bets

Darlington – The Legendary Track

Darlington, fondly known as “The Lady In Black” or “The Track Too Tough To Tame,” takes center stage this week in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as it hosts the Cook Out Southern 500. This race is one of the Crown Jewels of NASCAR and marks the beginning of the 10-race path to the championship. It’s also the second race of the year at Darlington, a challenging test for drivers, teams, and cars. A victory here secures a playoff driver’s spot in the Round of 12.

In this race preview, we delve into how the NASCAR playoffs impact our betting approach at Darlington. Can we wager on non-playoff drivers in a playoff race? Which tracks are we comparing to Darlington for betting insights? Additionally, we’ll explore key statistics and trends to consider when placing bets on drivers for the Cook Out Southern 500.

Darlington Track Layout and Trends

Darlington Raceway, with its storied history, has been a formidable challenge for NASCAR drivers since its opening in 1950. This 1.366-mile track stands out not only for its distance but also its unique egg-shaped layout. Legend has it that the track’s peculiar shape was influenced by the owner’s decision not to remove a fish pond when constructing it, creating a layout that continues to perplex car setup strategies.

How do these track quirks influence trends? Firstly, Darlington tends to be a difficult track for young drivers to conquer. Secondly, it often sees repeat winners. Once drivers master the art of navigating the distance at Darlington, the race becomes more manageable. In the last 12 races at Darlington, we’ve witnessed four drivers win at least two races each. Another noteworthy trend is that, within this period, no one has won from a starting position further back than 16th on the grid. Eight of the 12 winners began their races from 9th place or better. Darlington is also known for its high number of cautions, with an average of 8.5 cautions per race over the last 12 events dating back to 2016, including some due to stage breaks.

Cook Out Southern 500 Betting Strategies

Given the track’s history and trends, what are the recommended betting strategies for the Cook Out Southern 500? Firstly, it’s advisable to focus more on playoff drivers than non-playoff drivers. Playoff contenders have more at stake in terms of championship aspirations, receiving extra attention for car setup and strategy. Secondly, consider drivers who have a history of success at Darlington and have consistently shown speed. Long run speed and tire wear management are critical factors in winning at Darlington, a track notorious for tire wear. Drivers who can maintain speed late in runs while managing their tires are prime candidates for victory.

As for comparable tracks to Darlington, we’ll be looking at not only the last three Darlington races but also races at Las Vegas, Charlotte, Kansas, Richmond, Homestead, and Auto Club, mainly from 2023.

Winner Predictions for Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington

Here are our winner predictions, with odds provided by Sportsbook unless otherwise noted:

  • Martin Truex Jr. +550: Truex, a two-time winner at Darlington in the last 12 races, boasts a strong track record and consistent speed. He’s a top contender this week.
  • Denny Hamlin +800: With three victories at Darlington in the last 12 races, Hamlin is a skilled tire manager, a crucial asset at this track. His speed on similar tracks makes him a serious contender.
  • William Byron +850: Byron’s recent win at Darlington, coupled with his versatility on various track types, makes him a formidable contender for victory.
  • Kevin Harvick +1600: Harvick’s lengthy odds are surprising given his two recent Darlington wins in the last eight races and his strong performance in similar events.
  • Bubba Wallace +3000: Wallace, in his first Cup playoffs, has shown improvement at Darlington with top-10 finishes in his last two visits. His speed on similar tracks is encouraging.
  • Erik Jones +5000: As a two-time Darlington winner and the victor of this race last year, Jones’ history at the track is undeniable. He’s worth considering despite not being in the playoffs.

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