Darlington Raceway is the next stop for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series in the countdown to the start of the 10-race Chase to the 2016 title later this September. This Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 is slated to get underway at 6 p.m. (ET) and the race will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
Last Sunday at Michigan, Kyle Larson earned a spot in the 16-driver Chase field with his first Sprint Cup series victory in a point-race event. Chase Elliott came close to winning his first race with a second-place finish and Brad Keselowski ended up third.
The following is a look at my top valued favorite, contender and longshot to win this Sunday night at Darlington-based on odds provided by 5Dimes as one of the top online sportsbooks in the game when it comes to betting on NASCAR.
Top Valued Favorite
I decided to stretch the betting odds a bit with this week's pick by going with Carl Edwards as a +800 third-favorite to win on Sunday night. He has his No. 19 Toyota in excellent shape for the Chase with two previous victories and this team is currently holding down the third spot in the Sprint Cup standings with a total of 724 points. He has been one of the most consistent drivers this season with 15 Top 10 finishes through the first 24 point race events and this team's current form remains solid with an eighth-place finish or better in three of its last four runs. The real value in Edwards' odds lies in the fact that he is the defending champion at Darlington. He has now finished seventh or better in four of his last five Sprint Cup races at this track.
Top Valued Contender
I had a really good feeling about Jimmie Johnson's chances to get into the Winner's Circle last Sunday at Michigan at +1200 betting odds and while he did not pay off, he did manage to finish sixth following a seventh-place run at Bristol the week before. The No. 48 Chevrolet has been plagued with a number of issues throughout the second half of the season, but hopefully, this is a sign that this team is moving in the right direction. Johnson has always raced well at Darlington with three career Sprint Cup victories and a 9.1 average finishing position. With betting odds of +1300 to win here again on Sunday night, I am rolling the dice again on Johnson as my top--valued contender pick.
Top Valued Longshot
The odds drop off rather quickly for Sunday's race when it comes to long shots, but the one driver that does have some value in his number is Kasey Kahne at +6600 if you are looking to make a big score. The No. 5 Chevrolet remains on the bubble for the Chase in 16th place in the current standings and the only way this team can assure itself a spot in the playoffs is to win this Sunday or next week in Richmond. Kahne's best career finish at Darlington in recent years was fourth in 2011 and he has had some success at this track since joining the Sprint Cup series in 2004.
Betting Odds for other Notable Drivers
The top favorite to win on Sunday night is Kevin Harvick at +600 betting odds. Joey Logano is next at +750 and both Denny Hamlin and four-time winner Kyle Busch join Edwards as +800 third-favorites. Brad Keselowski also has taken the checkered flag four times this season and his odds to win again have been set at +850 along with Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. Following Johnson on the list is last week's winner Kyle Larson at +1350 betting odds and both Kurt Busch and rookie Chase Elliott have been listed at +1650 odds to win.