With the regular season ending in the rain at Daytona, and a surprise victory by Austin Dillon, NASCAR moves on to the playoffs and the round of 16 in Darlington for the Cook Out Southern 500.
By virtue of his rain-delayed win, in which he had to retake the lead in the final three laps, Dillon is in the final field of 16. Ryan Blaney also got in by finishing the race in 15th place – the lone driver in the playoffs who did not record a victory this season.
Martin Truex Jr. lost out on that final spot, and he is now racing the rest of the season with no chance to win a championship.
Favorites to Win Cook Out Southern 500
- Kyle Larson (+600)
- Denny Hamlin (+700)
- Chase Elliott (+800)
- Joey Logano (+800)
- Ross Chastain (+800)
- Tyler Reddick (+800)
- Kyle Busch (+900)
- Martin Truex Jr. (+1000)
- Ryan Blaney (+1400)
- William Byron (+1400)
Leading the pack is Kyle Larson, and why not. He is the defending Cup Series champion, and in his last four Cook Out Southern 500 races at Darlington, he has three top-five finishes. His engine let him down at Daytona last week, but he was the winner the week before at Watkins Glen, giving him ten top-five finishes in 2022.
Since 2019 Denny Hamlin has raced at Darlington seven times, and he has two wins and four top-five finishes, which includes his win at Cook Out Southern 500 last year. He also didn’t finish last week’s race at Daytona, but he began the month of August with a third-place finish in Michigan and a fourth-place finish in Richmond.
Chase Elliott is your overall points leader, and he’s been so good all season that it seems like it’s been ages since he last won. In reality, it was only July 24th when he won at Pocono. He had two top-five finishes in August, but he’s only third on the Cook Out Southern 500 odds board because of an up-and-down history at Darlington.
Elliott finished fifth here back in May, but at Cook Out Southern 500 a year ago, he was 31st. He was 20th at this race in 2020 and 19th in 2019.
The last of the favorites worth an extra look is Joey Logano, who finished the regular season just 15 points behind Elliott. And unlike the man he has been chasing all season, he does have a good history at Darlington. He won here in May, was eighth last September, and he has four other top-five finishes in his career on this track at the Cook Out Southern 500.
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