Toyota 500 at Darlington Betting Preview, Odds and Predictions

By in NASCAR on
5 Minute Read
Toyota 500 Darlington Track

On Wednesday, May 20th, NASCAR returns to action with its second race at Darlington in three days. This special mid-week event was scheduled to help the sport make up for missed races over the last two months.

The drivers will look to take on “The Lady in Black” once again as they compete in the sixth official race of the 2020 season. Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400 race at Darlington and looks to sweep these two events, which would be a historical feat that nobody will ever duplicate again.

NASCAR betting sites have listed Harvick as the odds on favorite to win the Toyota 500 at Darlington race. He’s followed by the usual cast of characters as Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. round out the Top 5 favorites.

Race Profile

The Toyota 500 at Darlington is a 500km race, which converts to 311 miles. It’s shorter than Sunday’s 400 mile race which was 293 laps whereas this Wednesday’s race is only 228 total laps.

  • Total Miles: 311.4 miles
  • Total Laps: 228 laps
  • Stage 1: First 60 laps
  • Stage 2: Second 65 laps
  • Final Stage: Remaining 103 laps

The Toyota 500 at Darlington is set to begin at 7:30 PM ET and will air live on FS1.

.

What to Watch for at Darlington

With all of the excitement heading into this weekend, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on:

  • Can Kevin Harvick sweep both Darlington races?
  • Will Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth turn back the clock once again?
  • How will two races in four days affect the drivers?
  • Will “The Lady in Black” be more forgiving to Jimmie Johnson?
  • Can JGR regain momentum on the season?

Toyota 500 at Darlington Starting Grid

On Sunday, NASCAR’s starting field was based off a drawing to determine the pole sitter and the subsequent lineup.

Wednesday’s race will have a different approach as NASCAR uses the finishing results from Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400 race to determine the starting lineup for the Toyota 500 at Darlington.

NASCAR will take the Top 20 results from Sunday and invert them for the race on Wednesday. So, Ryan Preece will start on the pole since he finished 20th at Sunday’s race. Kevin Harvick, who won the race, will start 20th.

Drivers 21 through 40 will have the same starting spot as their finishing result from Sunday, which is bad news for Jimmie Johnson who had car issues and will now have to start 37th.

With that said, this is a creative way to structure the starting lineup since there is no qualifying.

.

NASCAR Toyota 500 at Darlington Betting Odds

The following Toyota 500 at Darlington betting odds are courtesy of DraftKings:

  • Kevin Harvick (+350)
  • Kyle Busch (+700)
  • Brad Keselowski (+750)
  • Denny Hamlin (+800)
  • Martin Truex Jr (+850)
  • Alex Bowman (+900)
  • Chase Elliott (+900)
  • Joey Logano (+900)
  • Kurt Busch (+1400)
  • Erik Jones (+2000)
  • Ryan Blaney (+2500)
  • Jimmie Johnson (+2500)
  • Matt Kenseth (+2800)
  • William Byron (+3000)
  • Clint Bowyer (+3500)
  • Matt DiBenedetto (+4000)
  • Aric Almirola (+5000)
  • Tyler Reddick (+6000)
  • Ryan Newman (+6600)
  • Austin Dillon (+8000)
  • Chris Buescher (+12500)
  • John Nemecheck (+15000)

Betting Favorites at Darlington

According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Toyota 500 at Darlington on Wednesday, May 20th:

Driver Wins Top 5 Top 10 Avg Start Avg Finish DNF
Kevin Harvick 2 9 13 14.0 13.8 1
Kyle Busch 1 4 10 13.8 12.0 0
Brad Keselowski 1 4 6 10.1 10.9 0
Denny Hamlin 2 8 12 8.9 7.6 0
Martin Truex Jr. 1 2 7 16.3 11.2 0

Kevin Harvick (+350)

On Sunday, Harvick won The Real Heroes 400 in dominating fashion as he led 159 of 293 laps. Whenever Harvick got out front, he was unstoppable. Not only did his pit crew continue to keep him up front, but he also had great restarts late in the race, which also helped maintain this front running position.

The win was Harvick’s second of his career at Darlington Raceway. It also bumped his Top 5s to nine and Top 10s to 13. He extended his streak of Top 10 finishes to eight straight races at this track.

Harvick also came out of this race with a bigger lead in the standings as he’s now 28 points ahead of Alex Bowman heading into Wednesday’s race. He was just one point ahead of Joey Logano prior to Sunday’s race.

One other note, Harvick is the only driver to finish in the Top 10 for all five races this season. He also has three Top 5s and one stage win.

I expect Harvick to once again be a contender on Wednesday. I had pegged him with a Top 5 finish for Sunday’s race, but I didn’t think he would win since he kept falling short of taking the checkered flag in the previous four races. Now, I see him as one of the top cars to beat on Wednesday.

Harvick has odds of -455 to finish in the Top 10 and +115 to finish in the Top 3. I think he narrowly misses out on a Top 3 finish, but easily lands within the Top 10.

Kyle Busch (+700)

Busch was the betting favorite heading into Sunday’s race, but he ended up having his worst performance since 2009. Busch finished 26th on Sunday and fell two spots in the standings down to 14th. It was the second time this season that he finished outside of the Top 10.

Typically, Busch has run well at Darlington Raceway. Prior to Sunday’s result, Busch had finished in the Top 10 for 10 of the previous 11 races.

If there’s one driver that I believe will do better on Wednesday than he did on Sunday, it’s going to be Kyle Busch.

I expect the reigning NASCAR Cup champion to perform up to his high standards and be at least a Top 5 car (+110). It would be very surprising if he didn’t even crack the Top 10 (-305) for the second race in a row.

I believe if you give a great driver a second chance at a track in the same week, then he and the team will fix the issues from the previous race and become a serious threat. I like Busch more on Wednesday than I did on Sunday where I had him with a Top 3 finish, but not to win.

I see the team wanting to make up for Busch failing a prerace inspection and having to start 40th overall. There’s plenty of motivation all the way around for the #18 team and he should come home with at least a Top 3 (+185) finish.

Brad Keselowski (+750)

Keselowski started on the pole in Sunday’s Darlington race after winning the pre-race drawing. He would end up leading 80 laps, but fell off late in the race when he finished 13th overall. Keselowski won at Darlington two years ago, but wasn’t able to be a real threat when the race was on the line.

Keselowski extended his streak to seven straight races where he’s led at Darlington. He will start 8th on Wednesday, which could provide the #2 car with a chance at leading laps in another Darlington race.

Keselowski was 9th prior to Sunday’s race, but his 13th place result helped to bump him up to 5th in the standings.

I had Keselowski as a Top 3 car for Sunday, so it was disappointing to see him fade late in the race. I expect him to have a better performance on Wednesday and be at least a Top 10 (-235) car. I’m hesitant on saying he will be a Top 3 (+240) car in the Toyota 500.

Denny Hamlin (+800)

Like with Keselowski, Hamlin jumped up five spots in the standings from 11th to 6th overall after finishing 5th at Darlington on Sunday. Hamlin was my pick to win the race, but he just didn’t have the car to compete with Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman or Kurt Busch late in the race.

With that said, I like Hamlin to be a Top 5 (+125) car once again at Darlington for this Wednesday’s race. He bounced back from last year’s 29th spot and bumped his stats up to eight Top 5s and 12 Top 10s in 15 races.

Hamlin has a Top 5 finish rate of 53% and a Top 10 finish rate of 80%, which are better than any of the other betting favorites. His 7.6 average finish is 3rd best among active drivers with at least three starts.

You can mark it down that Hamlin will be in the Top 10 (-250) at the Toyota 500 race and you can pencil him in for another Top 5 spot. Don’t be surprised if Hamlin’s #11 car is the one dominating the race on Wednesday just like Kevin Harvick did on Sunday. His Top 3 odds are set at +225, which offer some value.

Martin Truex Jr. (+850)

Although he didn’t win the race, Martin Truex Jr. did have a small victory as he finally cracked the Top 10 for the first time this season. Truex ended up 6th overall on Sunday, which beat his previous season best of 14th at Fontana. Truex also moved up from 15th to 10th in the standings.

My prediction from Sunday’s race is the same position that I’m taking with Truex for Wednesday’s Darlington event:

“A moral victory would be for Truex to get his first Top 10 finish of the year and flirt with the Top 5. Maybe even lead a few laps or steal a Stage Win. But, by time the race is about to finish, I wouldn’t count on Truex to be in contention to win the checkered flag.”

Although it won’t be his “first Top 10,” I see it still being a victory for Truex to finish in the Top 10 (-250) in the Toyota 500. If he can crack the Top 5 (+125) then I believe Truex could be a threat to win in Charlotte on Sunday due to the momentum he will have heading into the next set of races.

However, I don’t see him being a threat to win this race on Wednesday night and I would pass on Truex finishing in the Top 3 (+225) as well.

The Best Toyota 500 at Darlington Betting Value

The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for this Wednesday’s Toyota 500 at Darlington race due to their current betting odds, their past success at this track, and their season so far:

Driver Wins Top 5 Top 10 Avg Start Avg Finish DNF
Alex Bowman 0 1 1 18.2 19.2 0
Kurt Busch 0 4 10 11.3 15.9 2
Erik Jones 1 2 4 13.0 5.5 0

Alex Bowman (+900)

Of all the drivers on Sunday, Alex Bowman surprised me the most. In fact, he came away as the biggest winner of the weekend. Bowman climbed up in the standings from 4th to 2nd overall. Additionally, he’s already won arace this season, which makes him a lock for the 2020 playoffs.

Another reason why he was a big winner is the fact that he finally raced well at “The Track Too Tough to Tame.” Prior to Sunday’s 2nd place result, Bowman had never finished higher than 18th. His performance this weekend proved that he’s grown as a driver and could really become a playoff threat this year.

The 27 year old is quickly becoming one of Hendrick Motorsports biggest weapons along with Chase Elliott. This is a great 1-2 punch for the team heading into the future especially after Jimmie Johnson retires from full time driving following the season.

Prior to the race, Bowman signed a one year contract extension with the team. If he keeps this on-track success up, Hendrick might have to add a few more years to the deal.

I like Bowman’s chances for another Top 10 (-235) finish. If he has as good of a car as he had on Sunday then I expect him to be a Top 5 (+133) car and compete for the checkered flag.

.

Kurt Busch (+1400)

I almost listed Kurt Busch as a value play on Sunday, but he hadn’t won at Darlington in 23 tries. Additionally, he was 16th in the standings and his odds just didn’t really appeal to me.

Well, that all changed after his performance on Sunday. Not only did he move up to 13th overall in the standings, but he snagged his 3rd straight Top 6 finish on the year and looked like one of the best drivers out there especially late in the race. He was even catching up to Bowman and Harvick in the final laps.

Busch’s 3rd place result also extended his streak to four straight Darlington races with a Top 7 finish or better. I like Kurt’s chances for another Top 10 (-159) and possibly another Top 5 (+215).

Erik Jones (+2000)

Once again, Erik Jones provides bettors with excellent betting value. On Sunday, he was listed at +1600 odds. For the Toyota 500, he’s listed at +2000 odds and I’m even more excited for Jones in this race than the last one.

In four Darlington races, Jones hasn’t finished worse than 8th. Although he didn’t win The Real Heroes 400 race like he did in the Southern 500 last year, Jones still sat in the Top 10 for most of the race. His car just seemed to lack the horsepower to get up front on the long runs.

With that said, I once again like Jones to be a contender on Wednesday. Look for the #20 car to hook up with a teammate late in the race and make a run at another Top 5 (+285) spot and possibly another victory at this track. His odds of finishing in the Top 10 are listed at -134, which almost a guaranteed win.

The Top Longshot to Win the Toyota 500 at Darlington

You might be surprised to see this name instead of my usual Ryan Newman, but John H. Nemecheck (+15000) impressed me on Sunday. It was the 22-year old’s first race at Darlington and he ended up finishing 9th overall.

Nemecheck was a Top 10 car for most of the day and proved that “The Lady in Black” wasn’t too daunting of a track for him. This was also his best performance of the season.

If he can stay out of trouble and get a little bit of luck then I see Nemecheck once again being a Top 10 (+300) car. And who knows, a late crash or caution flag could give Nemecheck the chance to steal a win.

Toyota 500 Bets: Driver Matchups

The following NASCAR prop bets require bettors to pick the winning driver out of head-to-head matchups at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, May 20th. These driver matchups and betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Erik Jones vs Joey Logano

Driver Erik Jones Joey Logano
Wins 1 0
Top 5 2 3
Top 10 4 5
Avg Start 13.0 10.8
Avg Finish 5.5 16.6
DNF 0 1
Total Races 4 12

I love the betting value with Erik Jones in this head to head matchup. As you can see, Jones’ numbers for Darlington are much better than Joey Logano and he’s done this in 1/3rd of the races.

On Sunday, Logano finished 18th, which was his second straight finish outside of the Top 10. Jones has never finished below 8th.

In 12 Darlington races, Logano has never won, but Jones won in his 3rd race at the track when he captured the checkered flag for the Southern 500 in 2019.

Although Jones didn’t have a great car on Sunday, he drove a smart race and cruised to a Top 10 spot. I expect him to be better on Wednesday. Take Jones to win this battle over the 2018 Cup Champion.

Driver Winner:Erik Jones (+100)

Brad Keselowski vs Martin Truex Jr.

Driver Brad Keselowski Martin Truex Jr.
Wins 1 1
Top 5 4 2
Top 10 6 7
Avg Start 10.1 16.3
Avg Finish 10.9 11.2
DNF 0 0
Total Races 12 15

Both of these drivers have had similar success at Darlington over their respective careers. Yet, Keselowski has slightly better numbers in three less races than Truex Jr.

This past Sunday, Truex finished 6th compared to Keselowski’s 13th place result. However, the #2 car did lead 80 laps which was the second most in the race. Unfortunately for Keselowski, his car faded down the stretch while Truex was able to stay inside the Top 10.

On Wednesday, I expect this result to flip. I see Truex’s car fading and dropping him to around 10th while Keselowski flirts with a Top 5 result.

Despite these drivers being close in stats, online betting sites have them far apart in racing odds. I really like Keselowski’s value for this matchup and feel that Truex is highly overvalued.

Driver Winner:Brad Keselowski (+120)

Toyota 500 at Darlington Checkered Flag

I expect a different race on Wednesday than Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400. I don’t see Kevin Harvick dominating like he did this weekend. Additionally, I believe that Joe Gibbs Racing will dictate this race by time it’s all said and done.

Hendrick Motorsports had two Top 5 drivers on Sunday with Bowman and Elliott. Furthermore, this racing team has the most wins at Darlington with 14. With that said, I believe that JGR will be the team to beat on Wednesday.

I expect three of JGR’s drivers to compete for a Top 5 spot and possibly the checkered flag. Teammates Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones will finish inside the Top 5. I also like Kevin Harvick and either Hendrick’s Bowman or Elliott to round out the Top 5.

However, I really think the Toyota 500 will be won by a Toyota and that will be due to one of JGR’s drivers taking the checkered flag. I don’t see Harvick’s Ford or Bowman’s Chevy beating the Toyotas on Wednesday.

I picked Denny Hamlin on Sunday to win, but I’m not going to take him for this race. I’m actually going with Kyle Busch to get his revenge on the field for a poor performance on Sunday. Jones won in 2019 and Hamlin won at this track in 2017, but Busch hasn’t won here since 2008.

I’m going with the highly motivated Kyle Busch to take the checkered flag on Wednesday night. I also think we could see all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the Top 10.

My Top 5 Drivers

  • Kyle Busch
  • Kevin Harvick
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Erik Jones
  • Alex Bowman

Race – Betting Recap

Betting Value:

  • Alex Bowman (+900)
  • Kurt Busch (+1400)
  • Erik Jones (+2000)

Driver Matchups:

  • Erik Jones (+100) over Joey Logano
  • Brad Keselowski (+120) vs Martin Truex Jr.
Winner:Kyle Busch (+700)
Longshot:John Nemecheck (+15000)
Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

View all posts by Rick Rockwell
Email the author at: [email protected]