NASCAR’s 2022 playoffs get into gear at a true driver’s track as the series descends on Darlington, South Carolina, this weekend. Defending series champion Kyle Larson enters as the favorite for the race win while his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and 2020 Cup champion Chase Elliott is the favorite to claim the title.
Here is everything you need to know for the Cook Out Southern 500:
NASCAR Cup Series weekend schedule and how to watch
Fans in the United States can watch the race on the USA network, the USA mobile app or the NBC Sports app (cable or satellite subscription required). Radio coverage is available on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM.
(All times ET)
Saturday, Sept. 3
Qualifying: 12:30 – 2 pm ET (USA, MRN, SiriusXM)
Sunday, Sept. 4
Cook Out Southern 500: 6-10 pm ET (USA, MRN, SiriusXM)
Top drivers and best bets for the Cook Out Southern 500
Despite not owning a Cup series win at Darlington, Kyle Larson enters with the best moneyline for the win at +600 according to BetMGM. Denny Hamlin, who has the most wins at Darlington among active drivers with three, has the next-best moneyline at +700 while Elliott, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick all come in at +800.
Yahoo Sports’ Nick Bromberg suggests you can find good mid-tier value with Martin Truex Jr., who just missed out on the playoffs with 15 different winners. Truex enters on a +1000 moneyline. His six top 10s at the track include three top fives and two wins.
Darlington history, track characteristics and what to expect
Opened in 1950, the track they’ve dubbed “Too tough to tame” is one of the oldest on the circuit and one of its most celebrated. It hosts the series’ official throwback weekend (typically around Mother’s Day) and the Southern 500 has been its Labor Day fixture for Darlington’s entire run on the calendar, save for a 10-year stretch from 2005-14.
The unique egg-shaped 1.366-mile oval features wide, sweeping Turns 1 and 2, but has a tighter third and fourth turns in order to preserve the pond that the original owner of the farmland stipulated must remain in place when the speedway was built. Famous for multiple racing grooves, drivers enjoy finding what works for them on long runs and in-race adjustments are crucial. Ford and Toyota have combined to win each of the last 11 races there.
Weather forecast for the Cook Out Southern 500
The forecast calls for heat, humidity and thunderstorms. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-upper 80s and Saturday’s qualifying session and Xfinity race face a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms. With the Cup race scheduled for Sunday night, the Xfinity race could easily be pushed to Sunday morning if it’s rained out so it’s unlikely we’ll get actual Labor Day racing.