Goodyear 400: Darlington Picks, Odds & Race Preview

Denny Hamlin's gunning for back-to-back wins, and doing it at Darlington, where he's got plenty of experience in Victory Lane. See how the field stacks up with this weekend's Goodyear 400 odds and betting picks.

Last Updated: May 14, 2023 8:37 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Denny Hamlin NASCAR
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Everything's coming up Denny!

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag last weekend, and gets to go for the back-to-back at a very comfortable Darlington track for this weekend's Goodyear 400. Hamlin finds himself within spitting distance of the NASCAR Cup Series odds lead, and sits as a co-favorite for the upcoming race.

Flanking Hamlin is a familiar face, Kyle Larson, who will be out for redemption after a disappointing finish here last year. Get the lowdown on the field with our Goodyear 400 odds — along with full race analysis and the best NASCAR betting picks.

Odds to win 2023 Goodyear 400

Driver Odds to win
Kyle Larson +550
Denny Hamlin +550
Martin Truex Jr. +700
Tyler Reddick +850
William Byron +900
Kyle Busch +900
Christopher Bell +1,000
Ross Chastain +1,100
Kevin Harvick +1,200
Joey Logano +1,200
Chase Elliott +1,200
Ryan Blaney +2,200
Bubba Wallace +2,800
Daniel Suarez +4,500
Brad Keselowski +4,500
Josh Berry +6,500
Erik Jones +6,500
Ty Gibbs +7,000
Chris Buescher +7,000
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +10,000
Chase Briscoe +10,000
Austin Dillon +10,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of May 9, 2023.

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Goodyear 400 field

Denny Hamlin's credentials here as a favorite seem solid. Not only is he riding high this season — a win last weekend at Kansas and Top-5 finishes in three of the last four races — but he's a four-time Darlington winner, most recently in the fall of 2021. 

Kyle Larson's case atop the leaderboard stands more on potential than promise. He not only finished runner-up to Hamlin last weekend, but in the 2021 fall race here — completing back-to-back runner-ups for Larson at the track that year. Despite some dud results in the 30s of late, Larson's been regaining glimpses of his Cup Champion form from 2021, with Top-2 results in half of the past six races. 

This is a very divisive odds board, with a slew of favorites (11 drivers available at +1,200 or better), with just Ryan Blaney (+2,200) and Bubba Wallace (+2,800) bridging the chasm between that top tier and the supreme longshots, with Daniel Suarez (+4,500) the next choice. 

With so many underdogs available for a great payout, is there value in the back of the field this weekend? Read on, our Goodyear 400 picks have the best angles! 

Goodyear 400 picks and predictions

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Goodyear 400 favorites

Kyle Larson (+550)

Yes, he was 36th and 12th last year. But I also can’t ignore three straight runner-ups prior and two third-place finishes in a three-race span before that. He led 45 laps in 2016, 124 laps in 2017, 284 in 2018, 44 in 2019, 156 in the 2021 Southern 500, and 30 in this race last year. All he’s missing is a win…

In the five races this season that Larson hasn’t had any issues, he’s had a pair of wins, two runner-up finishes, and a fourth-place run. Plus, Darlington is the fifth track this season that will also host a playoff race. In the previous four races on these types of tracks this season, Larson has an average finish of 2.25. 

Denny Hamlin (+550)

Hamlin has nine Top-10 finishes in his last 12 “Lady in Black” starts, including eight in the Top 5. He’s a four-time Darlington winner and also has four runner-ups there too, which includes the last time out. Five of his last seven tries there have seen him also finish inside of the Top-5, including three of the last four. 16 overall Top-10 finishes in 21 starts with 792 laps led. He has three Top-5 finishes in the last four weeks. 

Martin Truex Jr. (+700)

He led 248 laps in his dominating Mother’s Day performance in 2021. He backed that up by finishing fourth in that year’s Southern 500. However, a year ago, he finished just 24th and 31st, respectively, and didn’t see either finish. The thing is, he had a Top-5 car in both races. He crashed up front in the closing laps of this race last year while being in the Top-5, then blew a water pump while running in the Top-3 of the Southern 500.

Truex 196 laps in the 2020 Southern 500, those 248 in the 2021 spring race, one lap in the 2021 Southern 500, 28 laps in last year’s spring race, and 48 in last year’s Southern 500. He has four Top-8 finishes in the last five weeks. He had just one in the previous seven. 

Goodyear 400 sleepers

Christopher Bell (+1,000)

Bell had one of the better cars on this track last year. He started third and second, respectively, while finishing sixth and fifth.

Ross Chastain (+1,100)

He wrecked while leading last year. He was third in the 2021 Southern 500. However, what scares me about Chastain is that three of his last four finishes here have seen him finish 15th or worse too. Still, he’s the points leader for good measure and has the capability to win here. Why not take him for these odds?

Erik Jones (+6,500)

He won the Southern 500 for Petty GMS last year for what was his second win in the prestigious race. Seven Top-8 finishes in 10 tries gives me a big reason to take him.

Austin Dillon (+10,000)

A pair of Top 5s including a runner-up in 2020, as well as five Top 11s in his last eight at Darlington, put him on this list. He was ninth and 17th last year.

Goodyear 400 fades

Kyle Busch (+900)

The bad? Three consecutive sub-30th place finishes. However, he had a Top-5 car in both races last year but crashed after leading 19 laps while running there in this race, and had an engine blow while leading late in the Southern 500 in a race that he led 155 laps in. 

Prior to that were 10 Top-7 finishes in 12 Darlington starts. The only problem is that he’s had just one win in 22 starts, and that came back in 2008. This car finished in the Top 3 in both races last year. Also, Busch has finished 14th or worse in five of the last six weeks on the season, including four of the last five being 21st or worse. The only exception is his Talladega win. 

Chase Elliott (+1,200)

Yes, he could have won the second race of the 2020 race weekend. Yes, he led 114 laps and crashed with Martin Truex Jr. while battling for the lead in that year’s Southern 500 with 15 laps remaining. Still, Elliott is 0-for-12 at Darlington in Cup and among his three career Top-5’s, none have seen him finish better than fourth. Four of his last six finishes there have been 20th or worse.

Ryan Blaney (+2,200)

Not a strong suit for him. Just one Top-10 finish in 12 tries. He was 17th and 13th, respectively, last year.

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Darlington Raceway track analysis

Darlington is an older surface where you have to tiptoe around the track rather than go all out every lap. While I get these types of races aren’t for everybody, this is what makes racing fun.

There’s a reason why five of the last seven races at Darlington have all been won by a driver who’s now in their 40s. 13 of the last 15 races all saw veterans win. Erik Jones is the lone exception.

Cautions are typically limited and teams have to try out different strategies.

This wasn’t the typical new-school race where drivers are all bunched up in the end and can just plow over cars to get by. It was spread out and technical. You had to tread lightly around the track, because the harder you push, the slower you go.

Darlington is always that way. You have varying strategies on when to pit. Fresh tires can gain a ton of ground and speed on those going around the track on old sets of Goodyear’s. However, eventually, the new tires fade and those on old tires will pit for new, and gain the advantage. Whoever can work this game the best, usually wins and usually, it’s a veteran who manages his tires over the run to limit the fall-off.

Plus, being a day race helps as well. 

The Cup race in 2021 during this very weekend was all run during the day and featured 19 lead changes in 400 miles. The Southern 500 that year had 101 more miles, but one less lead change too.

Last year, there were 24 lead changes in this very race and 21 in the Southern 500. 

Last September, Erik Jones gave Chevrolet their first Darlington win since 2014 (1-for-12). Prior to last year, Toyota had won three of the last four, and seven of the last 10 overall. They went 0-for-2 last season.

The thing is, it’s not like they were all that far off last season.

Toyota drivers combined to lead 92 of 293 laps in this very race last May and if not for a late-race crash that pretty much took out their entire fleet while running in the Top 5, they likely would have won that day. Then, in the Southern 500, both Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. had problems while leading in the closing laps.

Toyota drivers led 213 of 367 laps that night for which combined, they totaled 46.2% (305 of 660) of all laps led here a year ago.

Which leads me to wonder if they’ll dominate this weekend. Especially since they’ve won in three of the last five weeks, including each of the last two. 

In the five races to start the season, they had led just 94 laps and 11 combined Top-10 finishes. In the last eight races, they've led 687 laps, won four times with four different drivers, and taken 20 Top 10s. That's 88% of their season laps led and 64.5% of their Top-10 finishes in this stretch. 

On the flipside, The Ford camp's biggest deficit is being shown right now. They struggle on intermediate tracks. In Las Vegas, they led just 14 laps all day and had only two Top-10 finishers. Last Sunday in Kansas, they had just one car finish in the Top 10 and led nine total laps all afternoon. 

By comparison, Toyota has led 164 laps on these two tracks while Chevrolet has paced the field for an astounding 351 laps. 

While Darlington is a tad smaller (1.33 miles) in comparison to Kansas and Las Vegas (1.5-miles each), will they once again struggle?

Ford has led 50.8% of all their laps this season on the three superspeedways. They led 122 laps in Daytona, 221 laps in Atlanta, and 88 more in Talladega. Take out the 296 laps led in Martinsville, they led just 121 combined laps everywhere else.

Goodyear 400 trends

  • Prior to last year, the last eight winners had come from a starting spot outside of the Top 5. Three of the last four have since come from the Top 4.

  • Every race winner at Darlington during the stage era has scored stage points. In fact, in eight of the 10 races, the eventual winner finished in the Top 5 in the second stage (Logano was third last year and Jones ninth in the Southern 500).

  • What’s odd is, the race winner at Darlington has never won a stage either.

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