Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NASCAR Toyota 500 Picks, Betting Preview and Predictions

NASCAR Cup Series
Toyota 500 Betting Picks

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Venue: Darlington Raceway
Television-Time: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Kevin Harvick came off the hauler for Sunday’s race at Darlington in tip-top shape ready to roll without any practices or qualifying and proved they did it best as he led 159 of the 293 laps to capture the 50th Cup Series win of his career. With a couple of days to rest before Wednesday’s shorter race at Darlington, he’s now the favorite to win and crew chief Rodney Childers said they’ll probably use that same car which could mean bad news for the rest of the field.

Wednesday’s Toyota 500 is only 228 laps which equates to about one less pit stop from what we saw in Sunday's race where there were only 10 lead changes between six different drivers and 10 cautions. When Harvick got out front he was fastest on the short and long runs with runner-up Alex Bowman looking almost as good as he led 41 laps and Brad Keselowski led 80 laps before finishing a disappointing 13th-place.

NASCAR Cup Odds - Darlington

  • 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
  • William Byron +2000
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As thrilled as I was that real racing was back, it was kind of a boring race which is unusual for Darlington and probably more about the situation and no practices. What we’ll get Wednesday night should offer more competitive racing with other teams stepping up based on what they learned. Expect race favorite Harvick to be fast again.

“It’s gonna be a little bit different,” Harvick said after Sunday’s win. “Hopefully, we have at least one more race before we come back with the XFINITY cars. It’ll be night, so I think you definitely have to figure out what you want to do with your car.”

So between the race being at night, the race being shorter and Sunday’s race used as a practice of sorts for the crew to work on getting faster, there should be plenty of optimism for betting other drivers to win. Or at least that’s the way I see it, anyway.

NASCAR Betting Analysis - Darlington

The team that appears best equipped to beat Harvick is Hendrick Motorsports with all four of its drivers showing signs of being a possible Darlington winner. Just like Harvick, they came fast right off the hauler but we still don’t know the full story of how good they are because half the team bowed out after just one stage. Jimmie Johnson was leading with less than a half lap to go in the first stage when he wrecked himself into Chris Buescher. And then William Byron, who won the first stage, had a tire go down to start stage 2.

The two other Hendrick drivers both finished in the top-4 with Alex Bowman being runner-up and Chase Elliott finishing fourth. Elliott didn’t look like a contender all race sitting around 12th and then saved his best for last for a career-best finish. Bowman also had his best career finish and showed he’s got what it takes to be successful at the tough track. He won on the gritty surface of Fontana and did a great job again of saving his tires during longer runs. The Circa sportsbooks had both drivers at 12/1 odds to win last week and both are 17/2 (Bet $100 to win $850) this time around.

William Byron had 30/1 odds in Sunday's race and though he's dropped to 16/1 odds for Wednesday, he still offer somes value. Before his day was ruined, he was blazing fast and seemed to have a good game plan for attacking the track. I thought for a moment that he was going to win the race. I was impressed. Perhaps Wednesday night in front of a nationally televised audience on FS1 is where he will get his first career Cup win.

I came into Sunday’s race being skeptical of the four Joe Gibbs Racing cars even though I bet Denny Hamlin, but I think they all learned a lot from the race, and will be good to go for a win Wednesday. At one point in the final stage, Kyle Busch was fifth and all the other Gibbs cars were in the top-10. Busch had a lug nut issue and had to pit again and finished 26th, but Martin Truex Jr. battled strong with a sixth-place finish, Erik Jones did the same to finish eighth and Hamlin plugged away with a solid fifth-place finish.

Hamlin seemed like he stayed in the same position all day and was faster in the long runs. He saves his tires better than anyone and his finish dropped his career average at Darlington to 7.6 and also gave him his eighth top-five finish in 15 Cup starts. He’s a two-time winner at Darlington and I’m looking for him to win there again Wednesday.

Toyota 500 - Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #11 Denny Hamlin (8/1)
2) #4 Kevin Harvick (6/1)
3) #88 Alex Bowman (17/2)
4) #24 William Byron (16/1)
5) #2 Brad Keselowski (11/1)

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