If you watched last weekend’s race at Daytona, you got a look at the mad scramble for playoff spots in the Cup Series. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 was a frenetic affair that saw a couple of big crashes in the final laps. Then end result was that Ryan Blaney ended up taking his second straight win, which is a great way to head into the playoffs, which start this weekend in Darlington. There are a couple of surprises when you look at the top 16, not the least of which is that Kevin Harvick got in by the skin of his teeth. We will now have 3 races before the field of hopefuls is cut to 12, so we can probably expect more craziness over those races. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s race to see who might get the win so you can bet against their NASCAR odds.
NASCAR Cup Series Betting: Cook Out Southern 500 Race Preview
Kyle Larson (+220)
After serving a suspension that saw him sit out the majority of 2020, Larson has made an incredible return, ending the regular season on top of the Cup Series driver standings. His 5 wins this season are the best of any driver on the circuit, but the truth is that he has been ridiculously consistent, landing in the top 5 in 14 of his 26 races in 2021. If he can maintain that level of consistency through the playoffs, then he is very much in line to win it all. I certainly would have a hard time betting against him this weekend, as he has run top 3 in each of his last 3 races at Darlington.
Chase Elliott (+650)
The people who claim that the defending champion is having a bit of an off season did not pay attention to what he did in 2020. Last year, Elliott had 2 wins in the regular season, the same as he has in 2021, before upping the ante in the playoffs and winning 3 races. The big question heading into this weekend is whether he can do the same again. While he is up among the favorites for the Cook Out Southern 500, the fact of the matter is that he has not been great at Darlington. He finished 7th on that track earlier this season, which was one of his better showings.
Denny Hamlin (+800)
After spending the majority of last season picking up wins and staying near the top of the driver standings, Hamlin has spent most of this season off the pace. In fact, he is 1 of only 3 drivers in the top 16 to have not picked up a win this season. That is a rather surprising stat for a man that tool the checkered flag 6 times in 2020. I’m not sure that Darlington is the track where he will break that goose egg. He does have a win there, but that came back in 2017.
Kyle Busch (+800)
If you are looking for a driver to get the win at very decent odds, you might want to take a look at Kyle Busch. No, he has not been particularly impressive over the past few races, but this is one of the most competitive drivers in NASCAR. You also need to look at the fact that he has a couple of top 3 finishes at Darlington over the past few years. I would certainly look at him as a top 5 pick.
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