NASCAR at Darlington: How to watch the Southern 500, schedule, odds

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NASCAR at Darlington: How to watch the Southern 500, schedule, odds originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The 2022 NASCAR playoffs are here, and they will begin with one of the sport’s most prestigious races.

Darlington Raceway, one of NASCAR’s most historic venues, will host the playoff opener with the Southern 500, which has been run annually since 1950.

Not only will 36 drivers be hoping to win this crowned jewel race, but the 16 playoff drivers will be hoping to advance to the next round. The only way to ensure safety into the Round of 12 is by winning one of the next three races at Darlington, Kansas or Bristol.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington:

NASCAR Darlington entry list

There are 36 drivers on the Southern 500 entry list. Since up to 40 cars can qualify for a race, all 36 teams will race on Sunday. Here's the full list of participants:

What is the NASCAR Darlington schedule?

There will be a practice and qualifying session before the race this weekend. The 36-car field will be split into two groups, and each group will get a 15-minute practice session on Saturday, Sept. 3 beginning at 12 p.m. ET.

Qualifying begins immediately after practice, around 12:50 p.m. ET. Each car will make a single lap, with the five fastest drivers in each group advancing to the final round. In the final round, the 10 drivers make a single lap and the pole is awarded to the fastest driver.

The Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington begins at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 4.

What is the NASCAR TV schedule this weekend?

All NASCAR coverage is on USA Network this weekend, including practice, qualifying, pre-race and the race.

Pre-race coverage starts Sunday with NASCAR Countdown to Green at 5 p.m. ET on USA, followed by the race at 6 p.m. ET.

Coverage before, during and after Sunday’s race can be streamed online here and through the NBC Sports app.

NASCAR playoff standings 2022

As aforementioned, the 10-race playoffs will begin at Darlington. Sixteen of the world’s best drivers will be competing for a championship, with an elimination-style format set to decide it all. There are three rounds with three races each before the championship race to close the season.

Here’s a look at the playoff standings as the Round of 16 starts, with the bottom four drivers in danger of being eliminated if they can’t gain ground in the next three races:

  1. Chase Elliott, +33 points from 13th

  2. Joey Logano, +18 points from 13th

  3. Ross Chastain, +13 points from 13th

  4. Kyle Larson, +12 points from 13th

  5. William Byron, +7 points from 13th

  6. Denny Hamlin, +6 points from 13th

  7. Ryan Blaney, +6 points from 13th

  8. Tyler Reddick, +5 points from 13th

  9. Kevin Harvick, +5 points from 13th

  10. Christopher Bell, +4 points from 13th

  11. Kyle Busch, +3 points from 13th

  12. Chase Briscoe, +2 points from 13th

  1. Daniel Suarez, -2 points from 12th

  2. Austin Cindric, -3 points from 12th

  3. Alex Bowman, -3 points from 12th

  4. Austin Dillon, -4 points from 12th

Which drivers have won at Darlington?

Seven of the 36 drivers racing Sunday have won at Darlington: Hamlin, Harvick, Logano, Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones.

Hamlin leads active drivers in Darlington wins (4), including the 2021 Southern 500. Harvick has three Darlington wins, while Truex has two. Logano (2022), Jones (2019), Keselowski (2018) and Busch (2008) each have one victory at the track.

Who is favored to win NASCAR this weekend?

The best drivers usually rise to the top at Darlington, a track that is traditionally difficult to navigate. With an old surface and two completely different sets of corners, it’s easy to lose your rhythm around the 1.366-mile oval, which is nicknamed “The Track Too Tough to Tame.”

Not only does Hamlin lead all active drivers in wins, he also has the best average finish (7.8 in 20 starts). The other drivers with the best average finish include Larson (8.9 in nine starts), Truex (11.5 in 20 starts), Jones (11.8 in nine starts) and Dillon (11.9 in 12 starts).

Logano won the first Darlington race this season back in May, bumping Byron out of the way in the final laps for his first victory at the track.

Here are some of the odds to win at Darlington, courtesy of our partner, PointsBet:

  • Kyle Larson, +650

  • Denny Hamlin, +700

  • Chase Elliott, +775

  • Tyler Reddick, +850

  • Kyle Busch, +900

  • Ross Chastain, +900

  • Joey Logano, +1000

  • Martin Truex Jr., +1100

  • Kevin Harvick, +1500

  • William Byron, +1800

  • Christopher Bell, +1800

  • Ryan Blaney, +2000

  • Alex Bowman, +2800

  • Daniel Suarez, +3300

  • Austin Dillon, +5000

  • Chase Briscoe, +5000

Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.