Cook Out Southern 500 Course: What Can The Fans Expect?

Author: Jomathews


Darlington Raceway, the original superspeedway, hosts NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races this weekend. With its unique shape and layout, Darlington is also known as The Track Too Tough to Tame, and being NASCAR's first paved high banked oval, the race has acquired many nicknames over its history. As this week draws to a close, Darlington has been given the new nickname, "Playoff Race No. 1," which has caused Cup Series players to be concerned.

Following the announcement of where everyone will start, the NXS will line up, pray, sing, and fire up for the 147-lap "Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200" to determine which driver will win the Xfinity Series.

A 367-lap "Cook Out Southern 500" will kick off the Cup Championships on Sunday at 6 p.m. EST. In the event of a win, which driver will lock in the round of 12? In 2022, will there be more than one winner per season? Fans can expect the Southern 500 to be intense and full of action, with only 20 points separating fourth place and 16th place.

With the oldest superspeedway race being held every Labor Day weekend, Jeff Gordon has won it a record six times. There have been eleven victories for Hendrick Motorsports, which has gained the most success. In the meantime, Chevrolet is regarded as one of the world's top manufacturers, with 27 victories to date. Last year, Denny Hamlin won the race for his second consecutive title in five years.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Martin Truex said of missing the playoffs. “We haven’t had a great season by our standards, but it has still been a good year overall. We just haven’t been able to get a win and that cost us. Very disappointing because there are a lot of good tracks for us in this stretch. We’re not going to quit by any means. We have a lot of pride and we’re still here to win races. Darlington is a good track for us. We ran well there in the spring. I have a lot of confidence that we'll go there and run well this weekend and have a shot at it."


The Favorites


1. Among the top


Martin Truex Jr. isn't just known for his stellar performance in spring. Over the course of his last eight races at the track, he led 594 laps and added the 2016 victory back in May. As long as Truex works his way up the field, he will have the opportunity to earn position differential bonuses.

While Kyle Larson has come close several times to winning the Southern 500, he has never won the race in his career. Changing that in 2022 seems like a good idea, doesn't it? Larson has been a top-3 finisher at Atlanta 3 consecutive times, led 328 laps during that period, and won two stages. The #1 seed in the playoffs would be our choice to ride the hot hand early on, regardless of price, until you have a reason to walk away before you say otherwise.

“Darlington favors the guy who can be very disciplined and is able to push the car right to 99.9 percent of where that tire run is and be able to put the car up against the wall and not overstep those boundaries,” Kevin Harvick said. “You have to be very disciplined there to get everything out of the car and keep up with the tire fall-off and not tear anything up – on your own, let alone being around everybody else.” 


2. Ranks in the middle


How will Christopher Bell's playoff performance be? In his four Cup starts, Bell has finished 11th, the best finish he's ever had there. It's good to see him starting from a 13th-place spot for a No. 20 team that has won this race before.

The first time Michael McDowell has made a playoff appearance has pushed him up a tier. What are the chances of him pulling another surprise? It should be noted that McDowell's two best Darlington finishes were posted in the spring race, despite a 27th-place finish here before that. Your middle-of-rotation roster might benefit from a driver who has nothing to lose.


3. Towards the bottom


Ryan Newman is looking for full-time sponsorship for 2022 and beyond after a disappointing season. As of the last three weeks, he has quietly put together a career-building resume; tenth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and an unexpected third at Daytona, the track where he almost ended his career. It seems likely that a repeat performance at Darlington will take place after finishing 10th this spring.

With Richard Petty Motorsports, Erik Jones finished 18th this spring, his worst finish in Darlington. Despite that, he still offered a +8 position differential to daily fantasy rosters. The 22nd-place starter Jones faces 367 laps to move forward from his 22nd starting position and may do much better this time around. Jones has six top 10s and a win in seven starts so far.




Sixteen qualified drivers will compete for the 2022 Championship at the start of the NASCAR Playoffs. During the Round of 16, the Cook Out Southern 500 is the first race in the series, and after the three races, four drivers will be eliminated. If you win in this round, you automatically progress to the next round, no matter how many points you earn. We can't wait to see what happens at Phoenix, following nine races and three stages.


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