Cook Out Southern 500 Analysis & Race Predictions
Race: Cook Out Southern 500
Date: Sunday, September 4, 2022
Track: Darlington Raceway
Time: 6 pm ET
What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?
Wreckfest is one way to describe a rain-delayed Daytona race that ended on Sunday instead of the scheduled Saturday night. With rain still on the area, NASCAR made an attempt to get a full race in, but boy, did that backfire. The race was eventually red-flagged once again in the middle of stage 3, with only 23 to go. A few hours later, the field (or what was left of it) took the green flag, with Austin Dillon showing as the leader. On the restart, Austin Cindric (yes, you read that correctly) was pushed to the lead ahead of Dillon by Martin Truex Jr. With only ten laps remaining, Cindric was definitely doing everything in his power to hold on to his car. Quite frankly, it’s a wonder that he didn’t wreck it as hard as they raced there at the end. Three laps remained, and Dillon was bumper to bumper with Cindric, who got loose and almost lost his car. He managed to hang on, but he relinquished the lead to Dillon in the process. Dillon ended up taking the checkered flag, followed by Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric. Landon Cassill and Noah Grayson rounded out the top 5 spots, with Cody Ware, BJ McLeod, Martin Truex Jr., David Ragan, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 10.
Kyle Busch got lucky to even finish where he did, and he has no one else to blame but himself. He managed to get a speeding penalty on pit road, costing him valuable spots as he had to restart at the back of the pack. What baffles me most of all about this race is that NASCAR let these cars drive into the rain at full speed and then acted surprised that nearly the entire field wrecked. Now, we all know Daytona is unpredictable. But, y’all, we can see rain on the track, and we have radar and spotters. There was absolutely no reason to allow that to happen. There wasn’t really anyone left to race. That’s not a problem here, except it was racing, and it took out quite a few drivers that should’ve had a much better finish. NASCAR botched that call if you ask me. I was really shocked. More than ten cars wrecked because NASCAR didn’t throw the flag in hopes of squeezing in the whole race instead of doing the right thing. It just wasn’t the right call. But then again, NASCAR is in dire straights. They don’t seem to have consistency in much these days and just make decisions depending on which way the wind is blowing that day. I know this is a new car with new rules, but this season has left a lot to be desired.
Where Are We Headed This Weekend?
That being said, the playoffs are here. Maybe the playoffs will give us something that we haven’t yet seen this year. Who knows? We’re headed to Darlington regardless of what happens. Darlington is a cool track. It’s got a lot of NASCAR history and can be a pretty good race. “The Lady in Black” or “The Track too Tough to Tame” as it is affectionately known, has been around for quite some time. As a matter of fact, this place opened 72 years ago, back in 1960, and has held NASCAR series events ever since, with a hiatus for some events throughout the years. For now, Darlington is back to racing its traditional Labor Day weekend schedule. The track itself was a bit of an anomaly for its time. It was one of the largest tracks built back in that era, so drivers were able to get a little taste of higher speeds for the time. This asphalt oval is 1.366 miles with 25 degrees of banking in turns 1 and 2 and 23 degrees in turns 3 and 4. The front stretch is just 3 degrees while the backstretch is a minor 2 degrees. The shape of this track is also unique in that it is shaped like an egg. This is a result of the farmer that owned the land. He had a minnow pond on the property that he did not want disturbed, which consequently created the more narrow and higher banked turns on that side.
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Odds and Value Picks
When it comes to picking a winner for this unique track, there are a few guys that truly seem to do well here. It’s a veteran favorite, for sure, but that’s not to say that our younger drivers won’t pull something out. With this being the start of the playoffs, I imagine most teams will play things pretty safely, although there are only three races per segment, so playing safely will only last so long. Kyle Busch has a total of 5 top 10s in his last five races here. Chase Elliott is not far behind with 4 top 10s in his last four starts. The drivers already raced here once this year back in May, with Joey Logano taking the win in a somewhat controversial move after taking out William Byron. It was pretty blatant. Honestly, the entire race was pretty full of carnage. Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, and Martin Truex Jr. were just a few of the other casualties of the day. This weekend, they’re all hoping for better results. Let’s take a look at your potential winners as we open the playoff season for the NASCAR Cup Series:
- Winner: Tyler Reddick +850 (Bet it for FREE with a 50% bonus at Bovada, who let’s you bet on the race while it’s live-in-progress!)
- Mid-Range Pick: Kyle Busch +1000
- Dark Horse: Erik Jones +5000
With the best average finish at Darlington at 4.667 in three starts, Jones is someone to watch this weekend. For whatever reason, he seems to have an affinity for this track. While he is not a playoff contender, he’s still looking for a win and a strong finish to the season. Daytona may not have been what he wanted it to be, but the rest of his late summer finishes have been progressively better. Keep your eyes peeled for this guy to have a solid weekend. Although Reddick only has a few starts here, he’s also up there in the power rankings for average finishes. Reddick is getting stronger, much like Jones, as the season progresses. He’s had a run of bad luck and tough finishes earlier this year, but I think that the playoffs may be an opportunity to really see this team flourish. They don’t really have anything to lose and can use these races as an opportunity to test for next year, if nothing else. Although a championship is always the goal, I think they need to focus on progress and not throw any Hail Marys this early on. All of these guys are going to be chasing Kyle Busch, though. If this dude can eliminate pit road penalties and keep his head in the game, he can be an unstoppable force. Like him or not, Busch is a heck of a wheelman. The man can drive. There’s no denying that. He’s got his work cut out for him if he plans on being in that final group for championship contention. Let’s see where they all stand heading into the first race and the round of 16 in the playoffs.
- Chase Elliott
- Joey Logano
- Ross Chastain
- Kyle Larson
- William Byron
- Denny Hamlin
- Ryan Blaney
- Tyler Reddick
- Kevin Harvick
- Christopher Bell
- Kyle Busch
- Chase Briscoe
- Daniel Suarez
- Austin Cindric
- Alex Bowman
- Austin Dillon
Dillon got in by the skin of his teeth with that win last weekend. Ryan Blaney edged out Martin Truex Jr., who’s had a pretty disappointing season compared to years past. Right behind Truex Jr., Erik Jones sits in 18. He’s got promise. Maybe next year, we’ll see some bigger things from that team to come. I think that his time is coming, especially after signing an extension with his team. This weekend, everyone has one thing on their minds, and that would be to avoid a Darlington Stripe and to get to victory lane. The playoff drivers will have different strategies coming into the race, while the non-playoff drivers will also have their own ideas on how things are going to go. It’s always entertaining to see how the two groups mesh on the track with so much at stake for 16 drivers and so little to worry about for many of the others. Stay tuned as the drivers and teams head to the first of the playoff races this Sunday at Darlington Raceway! Note: We’ve arranged a SPECIAL unadvertised 125% bonus up to $400 in FREE bets when you use bonus promo code PREDICTEM at GTBets Sportsbook! They also give you a free half point everytime you bet your favorite NFL, college football, NBA and college basketball team!