The NASCAR Cup Playoffs begin on Sunday at the Cook Out Southern 500, and the same drivers who are the favorites to win the Cup Championship are top picks at Darlington Raceway. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are the two top choices to win. Hamlin is the favorite at William Hill at +220, while Harvick is the first selection at Ladbrokes at +270.
Both drivers have been on a tear this season. Harvick has won seven Cup Series races, while Hamlin captured six checkered flags.
Odds to Win Cook Out Southern 500
|Martin Truex Jr.||+650||+700||+650|
Hamlin has put together one of the best seasons of his career. In addition to his six victories, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has 12 other top-10 finishes this season. He told reporters that he feels like a different person.
“I would say so. I know that I am,” Hamlin said. “From the start of 2019 – January 2019 to now, no question. There’s a lot of changes that have happened on and off the track that have attributed I’m sure.”
So will Hamlin win the Cook Out Southern 500 on Sunday, or will Harvick outduel him? We take a look at some drivers who might sneak in for the victory, and some who don’t have much of a chance.
Drivers to Consider
Kyle Busch (11/1)
Busch is one motivated driver. He is winless this season, but still has a very realistic chance to get into the final four. Winning the Cook Out Southern 500 would be a great way to break his losing streak, but to put the other drivers on notice.
“Certainly we’re not a title frontrunner, we’re not a favorite,” Busch said. “We are on the bottom of the spectrum and we’re on the outside looking in. I guess that would categorize us as being a dark horse or definitely being one that is not in the talks or included in the discussions of making it to the round of 12 or for that matter, the round of eight.”
Erik Jones (+2800)
Though he’s not in the playoffs, Jones has a solid record at Darlington, and shouldn’t be overlooked, especially with these odds. Jones has finished no worse than eighth in his six career starts here, including a victory this year. He is definitely worth a flyer here.
Driver to Avoid
Chase Elliott (9/1)
The last time Elliott raced at Darlington, he finished 38th. His record is poor here, with only has three top-10 finishes there in seven career races. The odds are low for taking such a chance on him. Pick another driver.