After a much-needed off weekend, the Monster Energy Cup Series returns for Labor Day Weekend aka “Throwback Weekend” in Darlington, SC for the running of the Southern 500. Darlington has produced some great moments over the years and just last year Brad Keselowski won at the “Lady in Black” which propelled his momentum into the playoffs in a run of three-straight. This is it, two races to go to decide who will run in the playoffs, and might we see a first-time winner this season on Sunday night?
Looking at picks this weekend, every lineup, build or bet starts with Denny Hamlin. He won last time the Cup Series raced at Bristol, his second win over the last four races, has six-straight top 5 finishes including the two wins and a pair of runner-up results as well. Hamlin is in a career-best run with four wins already this season and has owned Darlington. He has two career wins (’10 & ’17) and a career average finish of 6.15 with a staggering 11 top 10’s in 13 career races. Lock him in, no questions about it.
Kyle Busch hasn’t won at Darlington since 2008, but he’s got 9 top 10’s in 14 tries and as strong of a threat as anyone else. The aforementioned Keselowski has 5 top 10’s in 10 tries, but has the win last season at the top of his resume. Martin Truex Jr. won back in 2016 and has four-straight top 11’s at the track and is one of the early favorites for Sunday’s race. Kevin Harvick won in 2014 has top 5’s in five of the last six races with 11 top 10’s in his career along with 598 laps led throughout his career. Kyle Larson will also be high on everyone’s rankings this weekend coming in with an average finish of 7.60 and 4 top 10’s in 5 career starts.
Darlington Southern 500 Odds
-Kyle Busch 7/2
-Kyle Larson 5/1
-Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. 6/1
-Chase Elliott 14/1
-Erik Jones 15/1
-Kurt Busch 20/1
-Ryan Blaney 30/1
-Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman 40/1
-Aric Almirola, William Byron, Daniel Suarez 60/1
-Ryan Newman 80/1
-Matt DiBenedetto 100/1
Darlington DraftKings Picks
Denny Hamlin ($11,400): I’m not fading Hamlin this weekend, not one single chance. He was top 10 in speed during final practice and more importantly, top five in 10 & 20 consecutive lap average. Good luck beating the 11 on Sunday. Lap averages are crucial at Darlington. Kyle Busch is very tempting starting 33rd and will be in some lineups, but I’ll go Hamlin over Busch.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200): Truex won this race a few years back and has had nothing but success in recent years in Darlington. He rolls off 22nd and will return value easily, much rather build in the 19 rather than paying up for Busch.
Kevin Harvick ($9,900): Looking at Harvick’s prior stats at Darlington, especially in recent years to get him under $10K is an absolute steal. Harvick was up there in lap average along with Hamlin in practice speed and lap averages and almost all of my builds will have those two anchoring the top.
Aric Almirola ($7,800): Almirola starts in a backup car after wrecking his primary in final practice and rolls off with a 30th place starting spot. At this price and with the results from SHR, I’ll work in Almirola especially rocking that Tony Stewart throwback scheme.
Ryan Newman ($8,300): Newman consistently finishes ahead of where he starts and loves getting around this place. He’s the active leader in top 10’s and starts 24th. Easy money.
William Byron ($7,100): William Byron has now claimed the pole in the Daytona 500, Coke 600 & Southern 500. He’s on the cusp of that first win and if you believe he can lead a lot of laps and stay out front, roll with the 24 on Sunday night.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($6,700): I’m all over Ricky at this price. He’s shown the speed thus far this weekend, finished 12th last year and rolls off 21st, yep!
Sleeper Picks: David Ragan ($5,500) & Ty Dillon ($6,300)
Denny Hamlin: Hamlin will continue his career-best form with a win on Sunday night. He won two years ago, regardless of whether it was encumbered or not, he’s one of it not the best at this place.