Two days of rest is all the NASCAR drivers are getting before they jump back in their cars and compete in the Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday. This race is 100 miles longer than Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400 at the same track.
Harvick won Sunday’s race, for his 50th career victory. Does that mean he’ll be able to post back-to-back wins? Oddsmakers certainly believe so, having installed him as the 5/1 favorite.
Toyota 500 Odds
- Kevin Harvick 5/1
- Kyle Busch 7/1
- Denny Hamlin 7/1
- Martin Truex Jr. 7/1
- Alex Bowman 9/1
- Chase Elliott 8/1
- Brad Keselowski 12/1
- Kurt Busch 12/1
- Joey Logano 14/1
- Jimmie Johnson 14/1
- William Byron 18/1
- Erik Jones 18/1
- Matt Kenseth 25/1
- Ryan Blaney 30/1
- Tyler Reddick 40/1
- Aric Almirola 50/1
- Matt DiBenedetto 60/1
- Clint Bowyer 80/1
- Ryan Newman 100/1
- Austin Dillon 100/1
Source: Westgate SuperBook USA
The 44-year-old shouldn’t be discounted, but there might be better drivers to back at the Toyota 500. We take a look at some we like, and others we think might be worth skipping.
Drivers to Consider
Alex Bowman 9/1
Bowman finished well on Sunday, as many predicted, but for some reason, he’s only at 9/1 odds for this race. That might be just the value gamblers will jump on, so don’t be surprised if he gets bet down.
The 27-year-old finished second on Sunday with a race package that he won with at Fontana earlier in the year. Can he turn that into a victory on Wednesday? He told reporters after Sunday’s race that he was a touch rusty.
“Just a little bit off,” Bowman said. “I felt like I didn’t do a great job of knowing what I needed to be able to beat the 4 (Harvick) there on long runs at the end. I feel like I I could have gotten in front of him on the short run, I could have held him off with clean air.”
Denny Hamlin 7/1
The Daytona 500 winner finished fifth on Sunday, and should be hovering near the top of the field on Wednesday. He said coming in with no practice and finishing where he did gives him a boost for Toyota 500.
“There’s definitely confidence for sure,” Hamlin said. “We kind of ran about where we did last fall, somewhere in that range. Track position was huge. We were really good today.”
That should be the case again on Wednesday.
Jimmie Johnson 14/1
Johnson was leading the race and ready to take the first stage before he ran into the back of Chris Buescher and knocked himself out of the race on lap 81. He told reporters afterward he couldn’t believe it.
“Gosh what I wouldn’t do to get that corner back to do it over again,” Johnson said of the crash.
Think Johnson will make that same mistake Wednesday? We don’t either.
Drivers to Avoid
Brad Keselowski 12/1
I am going to keep putting Keselowski in this category until he proves me wrong. He has longer odds in this race at 12/1, then he did Sunday (8/1). Oddsmakers and gamblers have finally figured out that something is going on in the Keselowski camp.
We’re not sure if the problem lies with Keselowski getting a new crew chief foisted on him this year, or if he’s just in a slump. Something, though, is going on, and it’s not good. Keselowski did win a stage on Sunday, so that’s encouraging, but finishing 13th overall was the third time in five races he has been outside the top 10.
Joey Logano 14/1
Logano’s go-all-out strategy didn’t work, as he finished 18th on Sunday.
Darlington Raceway is one of the toughest tracks NASCAR drivers face all year, and trying to overpower it might not be the right play. Logano is definitely tempting at 14/1, but we say stay away from him this week.