Sleeper Picks For the 2020 NASCAR Cook Out Southern 500

| September 3, 2020 2:07 am PDT

Looking for top sleeper bets for the Cook Out Southern 500 this Sunday, September 6? Great. Perhaps you’ll find my five picks interesting.

Sunday’s race marks the third trip to Darlington this year for the Cup Series crew, following the Real Heroes 400 and the Toyota 500 back in May. This time around, we have one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races also serving as the first post-season event, which should make things even more interesting.

With the Cup Series playoffs set to get underway this Labor Day Weekend, there will be plenty looking for betting value in their NASCAR picks. Others will be in search of that big longshot win.

I think the following five drivers are worth a shot. Check them out for yourself and see what you think!

Erik Jones +1600

Jones is the reigning Southern 500 champion but will take to the grid this Sunday without a chance of competing in the playoffs.

Despite winning the Busch Clash at Daytona earlier this year, Jones, who drives the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing failed to follow up that performance with a Cup Series win. What’s more, his last chance of earning a spot in the final 16 was impacted by Tyler Reddick’s wreck at Daytona last weekend.

Jones hit out at Reddick following the race. It was the second time this year that he failed to finish on account of Reddick’s recklessness, and the frustration was easy to understand.

But Jones will not be content with putting his toys away and waiting for next season to start. Instead, he will be looking to put the agony of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 well and truly behind him with a big performance at Darlington this Sunday. 

Jones has one win and three top-fives from his five career starts at “The Lady in Black.” His average finish is 5.40 here, and he has yet to finish outside the top ten. 

Do the top NASCAR sportsbooks have the odds right on this one?

Kurt Busch +2500

Busch has gone over a year without a win, but he has made the field for the playoffs.

The first race of the post-season will be a great opportunity to show what he can do. While he is always a threat, it appears that most bettors are sleeping on his chances of winning the Cook Out Southern 500 this Sunday, as his odds of +2500 suggests.

From 25 starts, Busch has thus far failed to win at Darlington. The closest he has ever come to glory at the track was a 2nd place finish in 2003. But he did manage 3rd place in May’s Real Heroes 400, and has four finishes inside the top seven, including two top-fives, from his last four races here.

Busch’s odds are a steady +2500, which is pretty much where he has been for most of the season. With that said, he has a decent chance of upsetting the applecart on Sunday. 

Alex Bowman +2500

Bowman’s best form this season came in the early part of the year, with a win in Fontana in March and a runner up spot at Darlington in May. 

The latter is bound to give punters something to think about when it comes to choosing him as a sleeper for the Cook Out Southern 500 this Sunday. At odds of +2500, he is more than worthy of a shot.

Bowman’s overall record at Darlington doesn’t jump off the page, compared with other drivers. From six starts, the Hendricks Motorsports man has an average finish of 19.00. Other than his runner-up finish in March, his best result was 18, which he achieved in both May this year and September 2019.

But this is the playoffs, and playoffs drivers tend to win races in the postseason. Bowman showed us in March that he has what it takes to push the best of them to the fore. The question is, can he go one better and earn his first win in Darlington?

Bowman is worth some of that loose change you have sitting in that bowl on the breakfast bar.

Aric Almirola +2800

Almirola’s 7th place finish at the Toyota 500 in May marked his best Cup Series performance at the “Lady in Black.”

Three days prior to that, Almirola’s 12th place at the Real Heroes 400 was close enough to his previous best of 11th in 2015. Overall, the 2nd place has brought his average finishing position at Darlington to 17.60 from ten races.

But given all that’s on the line, I would fancy Almirola to step things up majorly come Sunday’s race. You could certainly back him to win the Cook Out Southern 500, but it might be worth looking at trying him for a top-five, or even top-three finish. 

A few dollars on Almirola to take the first Cup Series playoff win is well worth it at odds of +2800. Expect him to be competitive, at the very least, especially since he has now signed a contract extension to keep him at Stewart Haas throughout 2021.

Tyler Reddick +5000

My big longshot for the Cook Out Southern 500 is Tyler Reddick. 

The youngster might not have a lot of experience at Darlington, but he has a very respectable record when he has raced here. From two Cup Series races in 2020 alone, Reddick has registered a solid 7th and 13th. 

I’ll be honest here – it’s unusual to see anyone from the midfield winning Cup Series playoff races. But it is not completely out of the norm.

Most drivers will abide by an unspoken rule of allowing guys still competing for the championship a little leeway, but anything can happen in a race. Just ask Reddick, who has been involved in some controversial moments this season. Could that unpredictability help him on Sunday?

If you’re looking for a highly competitive driver with odds of +5000 or more, I would put a dollar on two on Reddick. The odds clearly show that he has a lot to do to win this race, but so will anyone around this price, right?

Wrap Up

It’s playoff time, which means things are heating up in the world of NASCAR.

With the Cook Out Southern 500 on the cards for Labor Day Weekend, I’m expecting bettors to be tuning in to this race with a lot of interest. Will any of my sleepers above bring a little extra sunshine? Let’s hope so.

If the odds above are a little too steep for your liking, you can always check out my Cook Out Southern 500 betting preview. I make my pick for the winner of Darlington’s famous race in that piece and talk a little about my reasoning for choosing that driver over the rest. I’d like to think I make a good case.

I’ll leave things there for now. Enjoy the race!

Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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