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NASCAR Odds, Picks & Predictions for Darlington: Bet This Toyota Playoff Contender in Sunday’s Southern 500

NASCAR Odds, Picks & Predictions for Darlington: Bet This Toyota Playoff Contender in Sunday’s Southern 500 article feature image
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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell

After a wild ending to the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, and I mean wild, the NASCAR playoffs kick off Sunday at Darlington Raceway for the crown jewel Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA).

The series visited Darlington earlier this year and Joey Logano took home top honors after a caution-filled race claimed 13 victims in the 36-car field.

That mayhem included top contenders such as Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain, who had the two best cars that day.

Additionally, four of the six Toyota drivers retired, while a fifth had problems.

When races are chaotic it can help to find value in longer shots. When that driver is also solid at this track and a playoff contender, count me in!

NASCAR Pick for Darlington

*Odds as of Wednesday afternoon

In the spring race at Darlington, Christopher Bell emerged as the only Toyota driver unscathed.

Thus, he comfortably took home top Toyota honors.

Even if attrition bites the Toyota stable a little less this time around, Bell is still a prime contender within the manufacturer.

Bell was eighth in average green flag speed in the spring, ahead of three of the six Toyota drivers, and only 0.33 mph off the fastest Toyota.

Yes, Denny Hamlin’s time looks artificially slow thanks to his issues, but even using my FLAGS metric, Bell remains in third place.

Bell jumps ahead of Truex who didn’t have to run the final 28-lap green flag stint on a track that chews up tires, while falling behind Hamlin who was dominant prior to his issues.

Additionally, you have to think there’s a chance that Joe Gibbs Racing may be using Truex as a “test driver” of sorts to help with setup work as the odd man out of the playoffs.

I certainly don’t think Bell should be the favorite among the Toyota group, but the +700 line that DraftKings is hanging is just too long in this scenario.

By comparison, BetRivers is offering Bell at +600, while Caesars has Bell at +650.

At Caesars, Bell opened at +700 and got quickly bet to +550, before settling back in at +650 as even longer shots Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace attracted action.

My model gives Bell a 19.6% chance to finish as top Toyota, well ahead of the 12.5% implied odds at the 7-1 price.

The Bet: Christopher Bell +700 for top Toyota | Bet to: +550

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