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Cook Out Southern 500: Power Rankings

Brad with a win in the Darlington?

NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Race Information

Race: Cook Out Southern 500
Laps: 367
Date: September 6th
Venue: Darlington Raceway
2019 Winner: Erik Jones (3:44:46)
Network: NBCSN

Track

Darlington Raceway — “The Lady in Black” is a 1.4 mile egg shaped asphalt track that opened in 1950 by Harold Brasington. The turns are between 23 and 25 degrees and the straights are between 2-3 degrees. Crews work hard to make sure the car can handle the different turns between one of the race track and the other. The closest comparative track to Darlington would be Texas which is slightly longer and a Quad-Oval vs. an Egg-Shaped Oval.

NASCAR Cup Series Toyota 500 Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Favorites

Brad Keselowski (9th selections this year) — Keselowski won here two years ago and finished fifth last year. He has also finished in the top 10 each of the last three races going into the playoffs.

Joey Logano (6th selections this year) — Logano has top five finishes here three of the last five years. The other two were still admirably top 20 finishes. He has struggled a bit last week at Daytona but prior to that he had top 10 finishes in six consecutive tournaments.

High Risk/High Reward

Erik Jones (7th selections this year) — Jones was one of the last ones cut come playoff time. Additionally he has landed outside the top 25 in three of the last five races. He can hopefully overcome that with his track record at Darlington — he was fifth here as a rookie two years ago, eight here two years ago and he won last year.

Kyle Busch (8th selections this year) — Busch has finished in the top eight each of the last three years at Darlington. In addition to that he finished 33rd last week and that’s a good thing. This year, when Busch finishes worse than 30th, here’s how he has rebounded in the next tournament: 15th, 5th, 6th, 5th and 3rd.

The Dark Horse

Matt DiBenedetto (3rd selection this year) — DiBenedetto was the last to crack the top 16 and while he is not a top 10 favorite, he has now finished in the top 15 in five of his last seven races. He finished 8th at Darlington last year and I’m curious to see how he fares this year.

Fun Fact: Bobby Allison raced an AMC car winning here in 1975. AMC is one of 16 manufacturers to win a NASCAR race.


2020 Results

Favorite: Avg Finish 11th (28th Percent)
High Risk/High Reward: Avg Finish 17th (43rd Percent)
Dark Horse: Avg Finish 18th (46th Percent)