Cook Out Southern 500 Odds & Picks

by | Sep 1, 2021 | nascar

Race: Cook Out Southern 500
Date: Sunday, September 5, 2021
Track: Darlington Raceway
Time: 6 pm ET
Channel: NBCSN

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

And that’s a wrap, folks! The NASCAR Cup Series regular-season has come to an end with Kyle Larson maintaining his lead over Denny Hamlin in the final race and claiming the championship. Larson had a great attitude heading into Daytona. He’s level-headed when it comes to his goals. During his interview, he had already weighed out all of the potential options prior to the race. Did he want to take some risks and go for an all out win? Sure. It wouldn’t hurt to have the extra points either. But did he realize the best option at Daytona was probably falling to the back of the field early on and safely riding to avoid the potential catastrophes that are inevitable at this superspeedway? Definitely. Larson ran a great race, a smart one but was still caught up in a wreck to end his day in 20th place. Honestly, Hamlin didn’t fare much better with a 14th place finish. It wasn’t enough to propel him ahead of Larson, though.

Denny Hamlin’s future teammate, Bubba Wallace, had a very respectable runner-up finish. Albeit, that was due to a majority of the field wrecking out, but that’s neither here nor there. That being said, Wallace had the nerve to whine after the race, complaining that his Toyota teammates won’t work with him to help him get the win. Well, Bubba, that’s a two-way street. You also have to work with others for them to want to work with you. That’s the best finish he’ll have this year. I’ll put money on that. Moving on, Tyler Reddick beat out his teammate Austin Dillon for the final spot in the playoffs. Dillon was caught up in the late caution that took out a huge number of competitors, including Kevin Harvick. The race ended up finishing under caution, with Ryan Blaney earning his third win of the season. Bubba Wallace, Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece, and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top 5 spots. Justin Haley, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, BJ Mcleod, and Josh Bilicki finished out the top ten. That’s an interesting group of drivers, but hey, it’s Daytona.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

This weekend, the drivers and teams start off the finale of the NASCAR season with the playoffs at Darlington. That’s a great way to get started if you ask me. I love this track. It’s rich in history and has been on the circuit for ever. NASCAR realized it was a track that needed to stay on the schedule, so many were relieved when they brought this trackback on board. “The Track Too Tough to Tame” or “The Lady in Black” as it’s affectionately known, is a uniquely built track, often described as egg-shaped. This 1.366-mile asphalt oval was built in 1950. Turns 1 and 2 boast 25 degrees of banking, with turns 3 and 4 coming in at 23 degrees. The front and backstretch are negligible at just 3 and 2 degrees, respectively. One of the trickier parts of this track are tires and maintaining them. It can be a difficult thing to do with the eclectic configuration. Pit road also sees its share of penalties for some reason. Pit selection will be a premium. Drivers are going to have an advantage with a good pit stall. They will also have to mitigate their speeds. Those pit road penalties can be very detrimental at this track.

Odds and Value Picks

Mistakes are going to be something no one wants to make, especially those guys battling for the overall season championship at this point. Heading into the playoffs with the regular-season championship definitely sets Kyle Larson up for success. Honestly, I’m not too sure if there is anything that can really stop him from dominating and taking the championship. I do believe that he’s going to start off the playoffs with a win. He finished 2nd to Martin Truex Jr. in the race here earlier this year. With Truex losing consistency through the season, Larson will eliminate his sweep of the season at Darlington and start off the season strong. He’ll have a lot of competition from the other drivers, though. The beginning of the playoffs is where we will see a lot of Hail Mary attempts from some of the drivers. While each playoff segment is just three races, there’s not a lot of time for these guys to make up points or wins. Each passing segment will see four drivers fall off until one champion is ultimately crowned. Let’s see our potential winners heading into the first race of overtime this year:

  • Winner: Kyle Larson
  • Middle of the Road: Kurt Busch
  • Dark Horse: Chase Briscoe
Briscoe only has one Cup Series start here this year, but he came from 22nd and finished 11th. He also has a win in the Xfinity series in 2020. Briscoe had a really great run at Daytona as well and is showing some strength late in the season. Look for him to run a solid race. Kurt Busch is looking to throw an upset into the championship, but he will have to win to do that. He’s coming on strong here lately, and his recent Darlington record is showing strength. While he doesn’t have a win here yet, he’s got top 10 finishes in 5 of his last 7 starts here. As a veteran, he’s run more laps around Darlington than most racing this weekend. With a championship on the line, never count out Kurt Busch. That said, Kyle Larson is going to be the one to beat. In a total of seven races here in the Cup Series, Larson has only finished outside of the top 10 once. Four of those seven races resulted in top 5 finishes. Larson is just fierce. He knows how to get the job done, and this weekend will be no exception. He’s heading into the playoffs looking for a win to take the pressure off and to gain some extremely valuable points. There’s nothing better than having that security right off the bat heading into the next segment. Let’s see how the points are lined up and reset as these guys head into Darlington this weekend.

NASCAR Standings

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Chase Elliott
  6. Alex Bowman
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. William Byron
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Kurt Busch
  12. Christopher Bell
  13. Michael McDowell
  14. Aric Almirola
  15. Tyler Reddick
  16. Kevin Harvick
You read that correctly. Kevin Harvick is on the bubble. In fact, McDowell, Almirola, Reddick, and Harvick are on the bubble. Those guys have to win or really gain some gnarly points if they intend to move onto the next segment. Winning is automatic security, but that’s always easier said than done. Right now, there’s only 6 points separating Keselowski and Harvick. That’s pretty significant. If anything, that gives you an idea of how close these competitors are right now. Every single point will count. These guys will be fighting each and every lap, and I don’t want to hear a word about how any driver should’ve “given some room” to anyone else. This is not the time nor place to worry about any else’s race but your own. Stay tuned for a great afternoon of racing as the drivers start the playoffs at none other than Darlington Raceway!