The Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway is set for Sunday September 5 at 6:00pm . Tune in on NBCSN, MRN radio, or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 to catch Sunday’s action.
Welcome to Darlington Raceway in South Carolina! Darlington Raceway, also known as “The Track Too Tough to Tame” or “Lady in Black,” is a unique track and one that I look forward to. It’s one of the older tracks on the schedule, hosting its first race in 1950, but the shape of the track is what’s very neat. While most tracks are tri-ovals or quad-ovals, Darlington is more of an egg shape. The tracks distance is 1.3 miles. Turns 1 / 2 are 79 ft. wide with 25-degree banking. Turns 3 / 4 are slightly narrower, 62 ft. wide and 23-degree banking. The fact that the corners at each end have a different radius makes it tough to set up a car's suspension so that it handles well all around the track, and newer drivers who misjudge a turn and scrape the wall are said to have earned their "Darlington stripe." Drivers must race the racetrack and not the competition to keep their car clean during this 367-lap race.
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Kurt Busch (-134 FanDuel) vs. Brad Keselowski
This was sitting pretty at the start of stage 2 when Keselowski decided not to pit with the rest of the field. He slowly lost the track position he gained and slammed into the wall a few laps later. Meanwhile, Busch had a solid day running inside the top 10 for most of the day. The final result was Kurt Busch 6th, Brad Keselowski 24th. Hitting a nice streak with the article best bets.
Drivers to Look Out For
Martin Truex Jr (+550 FanDuel)- Truex Jr won here back in May, leading 248 laps and winning all three stages. He also recorded the most amount of fastest laps at 68. Since 2018, he has an average finish of 10.8, but that includes the disastrous 22nd place finish last September when he and Elliott both hit the wall battling for the lead. Truex Jr hasn’t been as strong lately compared to the first half of the season. Now that it’s playoff time, I’m expecting him to turn it up a notch. Lookout for the #19 Toyota repeating his May performance.
Kyle Larson (+310 FanDuel)- Who finished right behind Truex Jr last May? Larson, of course. He came within .170 seconds of Truex Jr on lap 266, but couldn’t make the pass settling for second place. Larson’s last three trips to Darlington he has recorded finishes of 2nd, 2nd and 3rd and two of those came when he was racing for Ganassi. Larson starts in row three in the sixth position. If you haven’t been paying attention all year, Larson has been strong on pretty much every track type, rules package and day or night. Do not count him out here.
Kyle Busch (+650 FanDuel)- Sticking with the same formula, can you guess who came in third last May? Though he wasn’t too close to the leaders, a little over six seconds back, Busch should not be forgotten about today. He had the fourth fastest laps at 17, but here is what really gravitates me towards Busch: in the last three high tire wear tracks, he has an average speed rank of 2.3. Also, who has been the fastest the last six races of the regular season? Kyle Busch. Having a fast car is a great indicator that you have a shot at winning. The #18 Toyota starts in row six.
Best Value Bets
Alex Bowman (-118 FanDuel) vs. Brad Keselowski- Something just feels different with Keselowski ever since it was announced that he was leaving Penske for Roush. Could it be that the other two Penske drivers are getting better equipment now that Keselowski is leaving? Could be. In the spring race, Bowman was a tad bit better finishing 17th while Keselowski finished 24th. Late in the May race, Bowman was about a second faster than Keselowski. Also, Bowman has been faster this year on high tire wear tracks. Bowman has been the fifth fastest while Keselowski has been the fifteenth fastest. I also like the team advantage. While Team Penske has won the last two races (Ryan Blaney) Hendrick really takes off when the playoffs come around. While I don’t see either driver competing for a top 5 finish, Bowman should finish inside the top 10 while Keselowski might be fighting for a top 15. Lock in the #48 Ally Chevrolet.