Cook Out Southern 500: Cup Series Playoff Race Preview

Cook Out Southern 500: Cup Series Playoff Race Preview

We are officially in the NASCAR post season, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 3, at 6 pm ET.

After Martin Truex Jr. Was crowned the regular season champion last weekend and the playoff picture was solidified, the top finishing drivers are ready to battle it out in the Round of 16.

Find out how to watch this week’s NASCAR race on USA, who’s in the playoffs, what to expect and more below.


Date: Sunday September 3, 2023

Time: 6:00 pm ET

Location: Darlington Raceway, South Carolina

How to Watch: USA, channel 242 on DIRECTV


The playoff picture was relatively simple this year, with clear winners and losers. And with No. 17 Chris Buescher’s third win of the season, the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona finalized the roster for the playoffs. Since Buescher was already secured for the playoffs, his victory meant the final playoff spot was still up for grabs.

It was a day of celebration for Bubba Wallace, who had been on the outskirts of the playoffs for much of the season. Despite not winning a race in the regular season, his steady performance allowed him to sneak in the Round of 16 for the first time in his career.

Unfortunately for fan favorite Chase Elliott, Buescher’s win and Wallace’s move to the playoffs meant the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs were not in the cards for him this year.

Here are the drivers moving on to the Round of 16 along with their starting playoff point totals and team names. The drivers with * on their name made it into the playoffs based on points, not a win.

Place Driver Playoff Points Team
1 No. 24 William Byron  2036 Hendrick Motorsports
2 No. 19 Martin Truex Jr.  2036 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 No. 11 Denny Hamlin  2025 Joe Gibbs Racing
4 No. 17 Chris Buescher  2021 RFK Racing
5 No. 8 Kyle Busch  2019 Richard Childress Racing
6 No. 5 Kyle Larson  2017 Hendrick Motorsports
7 No. 20 Christopher Bell  2014 Joe Gibbs Racing
8 No. 1 Ross Chastain 2011 Trackhouse Racing
9 No. 6 Brad Keselowski*  2010 RFK Racing
10 No. 45 Tyler Reddick  2009 23XI Racing
11 No. 22 Joey Logano  2008 Team Penske
12 No. 12 Ryan Blaney  2008 Team Penske
13 No. 34 Michael McDowell  2007 Front Row Motorsports
14 No. 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  2005 JTG Daugherty Racing
15 No. 4 Kevin Harvick*  2004 Stewart-Haas Racing
16 No. 23 Bubba Wallace*  2000 23XI Racing


The first round of NASCAR playoffs starts at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The playoff drivers will be competing on the superspeedway in hopes of claiming the first post season victory.

As one of the most historic races on the schedule, the Cup has been competing at Darlington since 1950, and it is always an exciting way to start the playoffs. The race will consist of 367 laps around the 1.366-mile track, totaling just over 501 miles.

This is one of the most difficult tracks in the whole season. The track is paved with racing asphalt and has 25 degrees of banking on turns 1 and 2. Turns 3 and 4 are banked 23 degrees, and the front and backstretch are banked 3 and 2 degrees, respectively.


This is the Cup Series’ second time at Darlington this season, after the Goodyear 400 which took place in May. The race was won by No. 24 William Byron, who is in first place as the playoffs begin. Will the previous win help him overtake his competitors this time around? It’s possible, considering Hendrick Motorsports is the team with the most wins at Darlington.

This race is the first of three in the Round of 16. Each race winner will automatically get a spot in the Round of 12, while the rest of the competitors will rely on their playoff points to get a spot. The four racers with the lowest number of points will be out of the playoff picture after the Bass Pro Shops Night Race coming up on September 16th.


You can catch the Southern 500 at Darlington live from your home on the USA Network, channel 242 on DIRECTV.

In addition to all the Cup Series races, you can also watch the Xfinity Series race on Saturdays of NASCAR race weekends. The Xfinity race this weekend is the Sports Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200, which will be raced on September 2, at 2:30 pm ET. It will be broadcast live on USA Network.

DIRECTV has the full NASCAR coverage you’re looking for, plus a wide variety of other sports content you want. With the DIRECTV Sports Pack, you can get over 40 specialty sports networks including and more right at the tip of your fingers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I watch the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway?

The NASCAR Cup Series Southern 500 is available to watch live on USA, channel 242 on DIRECTV.

When is the Cook Out Southern 500?

The Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 will take place on September 3, 2023, at 6 pm ET.

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