NASCAR Playoffs Betting Picks: 2020 Cook Out Southern 500

Giggity giggity goo! Oh wait, that’s Quagmire.

What I meant to say was in the words of the legendary Darrell Waltrip: boogity boogity boogity, let’s go racin’! Can you tell it’s Friday?

I’m ready for a big weekend in the sports betting world!

  • The Tour Championship tees off this morning and will, of course, play through the entire weekend.
  • The NBA and NHL playoffs are heating up.
  • Major League Baseball might as well be in the playoffs themselves as they are almost 40 games into the shortened 60-game regular season.
  • The UFC is now a Saturday night mainstay with a show seemingly every week. This week’s fight card isn’t the best but I will take it over nothing every time.

NASCAR was just getting started with only 4 races completed pre-lockdown and since their return, they have doubled up with races on Wednesdays a couple of times.

They have also had Saturday and Sunday back-to-back races at the same track, just different distances.

In a doubleheader about a month ago, if you will, the 44-year-old from Bakersfield, California won both the Saturday and Sunday races at Michigan International Speedway.

He split the Sat/Sun races at Dover later that month with Denny Hamlin.

We have seen some young drivers like Aric Almirola and particularly Ryan Blaney have the best years of their young careers. All in all, though, it’s been Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin who have dominated 2020.

Kevin has 21 top-five finishes in 26 starts! Denny isn’t too far back with 17. Kev has 7 wins on the year and Denny has 6.

Brad Keselowski is 3rd in the playoff standings and is next down on the wins list as well with 3. He is followed by teammate Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr, and Ryan Blaney.

Wait, where’s Kyle Busch?!

The driver of the #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota has a solid 11 top-five finishes this year but has failed to win any races and only has one stage win in his 26 starts.

Only Hamlin and Harvick have more top 5’s on the year. Those two guys are both older than Kyle so we can’t blame this on age.

I’m not sure what’s up with Busch but I will say this.

It doesn’t at all seem like he is having fun out there. I know he’s a competitor and there’s a reason I’m sitting here typing this article and he’s rocking 200 miles an hour on the edge of death for hours at a time.

I actually like it when guys don’t smile when they lose. Like, say, ehem, Lebron James… Yea, I said it. He was laughing and joking at a post-game press conference after the Golden State Warriors had them on the ropes with 3 wins in the NBA Finals.

That’s the difference between him and Michael.

James is amazing and one of the best players I’ve ever seen but he lacks the competitive edge not only just that Jordan had but LBJ doesn’t want it like Kawhi Leonard. You can just see it.

Anyways, Kyle Busch is incredibly competitive and he will have 3 playoff starts before they trim the fat from 16 down to 12.

BetOnline.AG has betting odds on the winner of Sunday’s race, top 3 finishers, and also matchup bets, although the books always seem to suck the value out of the matchup betting odds.

Let’s look at who races here well and, of course, who is racing well right now and make our selections to place/win the Cook Out Southern 500.

Top 3

Joey Logano: +500

Joey Lo! The big man is primed for the playoffs and my dark horse to win it!

You can get him right now at 12 to 1 over at BetOnline.AG to win the Monster Energy Cup. It will probably be one of the big two but the payouts right now are almost nonexistent for Hamlin and Harvick especially.

They are each 3 to 1 to win Sunday’s race and Kevin Harvick’s betting odds actually drop to (+200) to win the championship and Denny is at (+325). I know how dominant each driver has been but I can’t get behind those numbers right now.

They can’t get much worse so I would just wait until somebody like Joey Logano lights a small fire under their behinds and the payouts for picking a champ will hopefully be worth it.

Joey Logano has slowly been building his momentum back just in time for the playoffs.

A top ten finisher in 6 straight races going into last week at Daytona where Logano led more laps than any driver in the field but was wrecked on the last lap.

His numbers aren’t terrible at Darlington. He has never won here but is up there with drivers like Truex Jr and Keselowski on top fives and average finishing position.

I think he is the hotter driver, though, and has much more valuable betting odds for a top three as they are 2 to 1 and (+275), respectively.

I definitely favor Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin in this race but as I said, their odds are ridiculous. I believe Joey is our best value as a top 3 pick.

Almirola and Blaney have a combined zero top-five finishes in their last 17 combined starts at Darlington. It’s tough to get behind that.

Let’s go with the #22 Team Penske Ford Mustang to grab a top-three finish.

Kyle Busch: +300

5th and 4th last month at Michigan.

3rd at Dover a few weeks ago.

Kyle has been up there all year. I mentioned earlier that only the big two have more top 5 finishes in 2020 than Las Vegas native.

Of the playoff drivers in the field this week, only Kevin Harvick has a better average finishing position (5.0) at the last 10 races at Darlington than Kyle who comes in with a very impressive 7.4.

Also, Kyle NEEDS this!

We have Richmond and Bristol coming in the next two weeks to finish out the first round and you don’t want to be driving at The Last Great Colosseum in need of a win to get you to the next round.

So, let’s just tame The Lady in Black this week so you can focus on having some fun over the next two starts and Kyle will hopefully be slightly refreshed for the second round.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin are pretty much set to advance to round 2 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs so I can see the team doing their best to give ol’ Kyle a push, whether it be in the garage, on the track, or both.

Erik Jones didn’t make it so the team only has three drivers in the playoffs right now. I believe they would like to keep it that way and show Kyle Busch some teammate love should he need it.

I’m not crazy about the (+285) for a top-three but I do think Kyle Busch will have a great race on Sunday.


Brad Keselowski: +1000

I know. I know. Denny and Kevin are the favorites and one of those guys will probably get the victory.

If we pick one of them, though, we are limited on the rest of our selections because if we pick more than 3 drivers then we could still come out a loser even if one of them wins.

(+300) for a NASCAR winner is trash and two drivers are at those odds now?! That just means we can get a guy like Bad Brad Keselowski at 10 to 1.

Of all active drivers in the field this week, only Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have led more laps in the last 10 races here at Darlington than Keselowski.

After winning here in 2018, Brad has two top 5 finishes in his last 3 starts.

Kyle Busch is up there with 2 top three’s in 3 starts as well.

Brad hasn’t been great lately. He has been finishing inside the top ten but not really coming close to getting the victory.

The aforementioned Joey Logano has been faster down the stretch.

I like the driver here but I love the number.

He should probably be at 7 or 8 to 1 so I see the value here for sure.

My Picks
Logano Top 3
Busch Top 3
Keselowski to Win

In Conclusion

Playoffs?! Yea buddy.

It’s been a strange year, to say the least not only in sports but, of course, the entire world as well. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without sports during this extended lockdown/quarantine.

It’s rude to start a conversation in a cafe or a bar. Even if you find someone who wants to talk, you both sound like Kenny from South Park choking down 7 marshmallows.

Luckily, we have sports and more importantly, sports betting to get us through.

Sports are cool and all but when all we had was Russian table tennis and Taiwanese baseball, the betting options were the only factors that were going to make these leagues interesting to us. It’s funny how that works.

Wanna watch me flip this here coin, young man? No? How bout I give you .60 cents every time it lands on heads and you give me .40 cents every time it is tails?

Om, okay!

It has actually been an outstanding year for us betting on NASCAR.

If you stuck with me through the days of betting on the Xfinity Series, I’m sorry. I think I got 1 bet correct out of 8 or 9.

They were obviously potentially big payouts betting on winners and top three guys but a whole new league was tough. No beginner’s luck there.

For the Cup Series, though, we smashed!

At one point, we had picked 8 winners out of 17 races and picked a top-three finisher in 5 of 7 races. This was picking about 2-3 winners and 1-2 top three drivers at a time.

The Hamlin/Harvick recipe for success was a hit but Ryan Blaney as a top 3 as well as Truex Jr were our best plays.

Let’s get another win this week at Darlington. It’s a weird track but the best drivers are usually there in the end.

Get your bets in now before the odds move away from your favor and enjoy the race on Sunday if you get the chance to watch.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.