- What: Darlington – Cook Out Southern 500
- Date: Sunday, September 3, 2023
- Location: Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina
- Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
- How to Watch: USA and NBC Sports App
This weekend’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway marks the first event of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. With that, the following 16 drivers are in the hunt for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship: William Byron, Martin Truex. Jr, Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, 2021 champ Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Brad Keslowski, Tyler Reddick, 2022 champion Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney. Not making the cut for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs was 2020 champion Chase Elliott, who found himself in 20th place ahead of the start of the NASCAR postseason. Logano, a two-time champ, he also won in 2018, has the opportunity to become the first back-to-back NASCAR champion since Jimmie Johnson won five straight titles between 2006 and 2010.
Darlington Raceway has hosted NASCAR events since 1950. David Pearson has the most wins on the 1.33 mile oval track. The winningest team at Darlington is Hendrick Motorsports with 11 total wins on the track. Last year’s winner of the Cook Out Southern 500 was Erik Jones. Kyle Busch, who finished the race in fifth place, led the most laps with 155.
Darlington – Cook Out Southern 500 betting picks
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. has had little success over the past few years at Darlington, but there are some extenuating circumstances to his recent finishes. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing has finished outside the top 20 in his three most recent starts at Darlington, but he was involved in a crash while racing in the top five in the spring 2022 race. In the 2022 Southern 500, he led 48 laps but fell back when his water pump failed, and in the spring 2023 race he was in the lead for 145 laps before he crashed.
Truex has two wins on this track in his career. Overall, he’s finished in the top five four times and inside the top 10 on 10 occasions. In 2021, Truex won the spring race and finished fourth in the summer running.
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion heads into the 2023 Cook Out Southern race in Darlington with 36th, 12th, and 20th place finishes in his past three starts on this track. However, before that, Kyle Larson performed very well on this track, finishing third and then in the runner-up spot in three consecutive races.
Over his career, Larson, the driver of the No. 5 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, has seven top-10 finishes on this track and five top-five placements in 11 starts.
Denny Hamlin is the winningest active NASCAR Cup Series driver at Darlington with four victories. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, Hamlin picked up wins in 2010, 2017, 2020, and 2021. Hamlin finished in 12th place in the spring race in Darlington, but that should not dissuade anyone from considering Hamlin to take the checkered flag at the 2023 Cook Out Southern 500. Last year, Hamlin placed 21st in the spring and won the summer competition.
Hamlin has nine finishes in the top 10 at Darlington in his past 13 starts. Overall, he has 16 top-10 finishes in 22 starts.
If one is looking for a driver with longer odds as a betting pick, the driver to consider is Kevin Harvick. The driver of the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick has three wins at Darlington, with the most recent coming in 2020. He finished as the runner-up in the spring race on this track. His run of 13 straight starts where he placed inside the top 10 ended last summer when he finished in 33rd after his car caught fire.
Best bets to win the 2023 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington
There are a lot of drivers in the 2023 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington who have performed well on this track. If you’re looking for a value pick, there’s a lot to like about Harvick at the betting odds he is getting ahead of Sunday’s race. However, our betting pick for the Cook Out Southern 500 is for Denny Hamlin to join Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, and Darrell Waltrip as a five-time winner at Darlington.
Best 2023 NASCAR 2023 Cook Out Southern 500 bet: Denny Hamlin to win at Darlington.
See below a list of reliable sportsbooks and choose the best one for you.