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NASCAR National Series News & Notes: Darlington Raceway

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Cook Out Southern 500

The Place: Darlington Raceway

The Date: Sunday, September 5

The Time: 6 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 5:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 501.3 miles (367 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 115),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 230), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 367)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200

The Place: Darlington Raceway

The Date: Saturday, September 4

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 200.1 miles (147 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 147)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: In It To Win It 200

The Place: Darlington Raceway

The Date: Sunday, September 5

The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 200.1 miles (147 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 147)

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 Darlington Raceway returns as Playoff opener for the NASCAR Cup Series

The 2021 season marks the second year the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has opened at Darlington Raceway (2020-2021) for the Cook Out Southern 500 on September 5 at 6 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Schedule
Tracks Date
Darlington Sunday, September 5, 2021
Richmond Saturday, September 11, 2021
Bristol Saturday, September 18, 2021
Las Vegas Sunday, September 26, 2021
Talladega Sunday, October 3, 2021
Charlotte RC Sunday, October 10, 2021
Texas Sunday, October 17, 2021
Kansas Sunday, October 24, 2021
Martinsville Sunday, October 31, 2021
Phoenix Sunday, November 7, 2021

Darlington Raceway is the fourth different track to host the first race of the NASCAR Cup Series postseason. New Hampshire Motor Speedway hosted the first race of the Playoffs from 2004–2010, then Chicagoland Speedway held the first race of the Playoffs from 2011–2017 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted the first race of the Playoffs from 2018-2019.

Prior to the 2020 season, Darlington Raceway had hosted just one other Playoff race, the penultimate event in the inaugural Playoffs in 2004. The race was won by seven-time series champion and former Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson.

The winner of the opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the title four times. In 2004 (inaugural Cup Playoffs), Kurt Busch won the opening race of the Playoffs at New Hampshire and went on to win the title. In 2011 (race was delayed until Monday due to rain) Tony Stewart won his first race of the season at Chicago to open the Playoffs. Stewart went on to set the record for the most wins in a Playoff run with five victories and the title. In 2012, Brad Keselowski won the Playoff race at Chicago and went on to win the title. And in 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won the Playoff race at Chicago and went on to win the championship.

First Race Of The Playoffs – Race Winners
Track Playoff Race Winners Date
New Hampshire Kurt Busch Sunday, September 19, 2004
New Hampshire Ryan Newman Sunday, September 18, 2005
New Hampshire Kevin Harvick Sunday, September 17, 2006
New Hampshire Clint Bowyer Sunday, September 16, 2007
New Hampshire Greg Biffle Sunday, September 14, 2008
New Hampshire Mark Martin Sunday, September 20, 2009
New Hampshire Clint Bowyer Sunday, September 19, 2010
Chicago Tony Stewart Monday, September 19, 2011
Chicago Brad Keselowski Sunday, September 16, 2012
Chicago Matt Kenseth Sunday, September 15, 2013
Chicago Brad Keselowski Sunday, September 14, 2014
Chicago Denny Hamlin Sunday, September 20, 2015
Chicago Martin Truex Jr Sunday, September 18, 2016
Chicago Martin Truex Jr Sunday, September 17, 2017
Las Vegas Brad Keselowski Sunday, September 16, 2018
Las Vegas Martin Truex Jr Sunday, September 15, 2019
Darlington Kevin Harvick Sunday, September 6, 2020

The worst finish in the opening race of the Playoffs by a driver that went on to win the title was Jimmie Johnson’s 39th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the 2006 postseason. The worst finish in the opening Playoff race at Chicago for a driver that went on to win the title was Jimmie Johnson’s 12th-place finish in 2016. The worst finish in the opening race of the Playoffs at Las Vegas by a driver that went on to win the title was Kyle Busch’s 19th-place finish in 2019. Last season, Chase Elliott finished 20th at Darlington Raceway to open the Playoffs and went on to win the title.

No non-Playoff driver has ever won the opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Since the inception of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs in 2014, entering the Playoffs as the No. 1 seed has been the most successful seeding, producing three championships among two drivers – Kyle Busch (2015, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017). The deepest seed an eventual champion has started the Playoffs was seventh by Kevin Harvick (2014) and Joey Logano (2018). Elliott was seeded fifth last season entering the Playoffs.

Historical Darlington Raceway is a challenge itself for the competitors

Darlington Raceway is the perfect stage for NASCAR Cup Series Playoff opener, the Cook Out Southern 500 (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The historic 1.366-mile egg-shaped paved oval has hosted 120 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to 1950.

Originally, the raceway was built as a 1.25-mile paved superspeedway in 1949-1950 and hosted the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history and the first on asphalt on Sept. 4, 1950. A total of 75 cars competed in the inaugural event and Curtis Turner won the pole at 82.034 mph, and the race was won by Johnny Mantz (Plymouth, 75.250 mph). The race took 6 hours, 38 minutes, and 40 seconds to complete.

Since then, Darlington Raceway has undergone some changes through the years. In 1953, the track was re-measured to 1.375 miles. Then in 1970, the track was re-configured to 1.366 miles following the spring race of that season. The track was repaved in 1995 and then again prior to the 2008 season. Over the years the historic facility has become known amongst its competitors as ‘the track too tough to tame’.

In total, the 120 NASCAR Cup Series races has produced 51 different pole winners and 51 different race winners. Six of the 51 NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at Darlington Raceway are active this weekend – Kevin Harvick (two poles), Kurt Busch (two), Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and William Byron (each have one pole). NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in poles at Darlington with 12 (1967, ’70, ’72, ’73 sweep, ’75 sweep, ’76 sweep, ’77, ’78 and ’82). Kurt Busch (2001, 2013) and Kevin Harvick (2014, 2017) lead all active drivers in poles at Darlington with two each.

Of the 51 NASCAR Cup Series Darlington Raceway race winners, six are active this weekend.

Rank Active Race Winners Wins Seasons
1 Kevin Harvick 3 2020-3, 2020-1, 2014
2 Denny Hamlin 3 2020-2, 2017, 2010
3 Martin Truex Jr 2 2021, 2016
4 Erik Jones 1 2019
5 Brad Keselowski 1 2018
6 Kyle Busch 1 2008

NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in victories at Darlington with 10 wins (1968, ’70, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’76 sweep, ’77, ’79, 80); followed by Dale Earnhardt with nine and Jeff Gordon with seven. Kevin Harvick (2020, 2020, 2014) and Denny Hamlin (2020, 2017, 2010) lead all active drivers in victories at Darlington with three wins each.

This weekend’s Cook Out Southern 500 will be 367 laps (501.3 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 115 laps, the second stage will be 115 laps and the final stage will be 137 laps.

The starting lineup for this weekend’s Cook Out Southern 500 was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney will start from the pole and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin will join Blaney on the front row.

The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Darlington. The outside front row (second-place) has produced the second-most wins (17).  In total, 20 of the 120 (16.667%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway have been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kevin Harvick in 2014.

Quick Rundown: NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoff format is competed over the final 10 races and includes 16 drivers and four rounds – the Round of 16, the Round of 12, the Round of 8 and the Championship 4.

An overview:

  • A victory in the first 26 races all but guarantees a berth in the 10-race Playoffs.
  • The number of Playoff drivers in contention for the championship will decrease after every three Playoff races, from 16 to start; 12 after race No. 3; eight after race No. 6; and four after race No. 9.
  • The first three races (27-29) will be known as the Round of 16; races 30-32 will be known as the Round of 12; races 33-35 will be Round of 8; and race No. 36 will be the Championship 4.
  • A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Playoff race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next Playoff round.
  • Four drivers will enter the Championship Race with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the prestigious NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Eligibility For The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

  • The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will earn a spot in the Playoffs – provided they have finished in the top 30 in points and attempted to qualify for every race (except in rare instances).
  • The 16th Playoff position will go to the points leader after race No. 26 if he/she does not have a victory. In the event that there are 16 or more different winners over 26 races, the only winless driver who can earn a Playoff spot would be the points leader after 26 races.
  • If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the first 26 races, the remaining Playoff positions will go to those winless drivers highest in points. If there are 16 or more winners in the first 26 races, the ties will first be broken by number of wins, followed by points.
  • Prior to the start of the Playoffs, all Playoff drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000, with all Playoff points added to their total. Those Playoff points will stay with the driver as long as he/she remains in the Playoffs (except for the Championship 4 Round race).

Playoff Structure

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are an elimination-style format that is broken up into four rounds. After the third Playoff race, there will be 12 drivers. After the sixth Playoff race, the field will drop to eight drivers, and following the ninth Playoff race, only four drivers will remain in championship contention.

  • Round of 16: The first round (races 27-29) is the Round of 16. If a Playoff driver wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Round of 12). The remaining available positions 1-12 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each driver will then have their points reset to 3,000, with any awarded Playoff points added.
NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 26
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Kyle Larson 2,052 5 12 52 47
2 Ryan Blaney 2,024 3 4 24 19
3 Martin Truex Jr. 2,024 3 5 24 19
4 Kyle Busch 2,022 2 5 22 17
5 Chase Elliott 2,021 2 3 21 16
6 Alex Bowman 2,015 3 0 15 10
7 Denny Hamlin 2,015 0 5 15 10
8 William Byron 2,014 1 3 14 9
9 Joey Logano 2,013 1 5 13 8
10 Brad Keselowski 2,008 1 2 8 3
11 Kurt Busch 2,008 1 3 8 3
12 Christopher Bell 2,005 1 0 5 0
13 Michael McDowell 2,005 1 0 5 0
14 Aric Almirola 2,005 1 0 5 0
15 Tyler Reddick 2,003 0 3 3 -2
16 Kevin Harvick 2,002 0 0 2 -3

 

  • Round of 12: The second round (races 30-32) is the Round of 12. Likewise, if a driver in the top 12 in points wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Round of 8). The remaining available positions 1-8 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each driver will then have their points reset to 4,000, with any awarded Playoff points added.
  • Round of 8: The third round (races 33-35) is the Round of 8. If a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Championship 4). The remaining available positions 1-4 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 5,000.
  • Additionally, drivers who are eliminated in the Round of 16, Round of 12 and Round of 8 will have their points readjusted. Each eliminated driver will return to the Playoff-start base of 2,000 with any awarded Playoff points and any accumulated points starting with race No. 27 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-16th still up for grabs.

Championship Finale

  • The 36th and final race of the season will be the Championship Race, which will feature the Championship 4 Round. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Cup Series title.
  • Playoff points for stage wins will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.
  • Note:  All rules outlined above also apply to the owner championship structure.

Scouting the Playoff field at Darlington

Darlington Raceway is set to kick off the 18th running of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004-2021) in this Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET on NBC. MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Since the inception of the postseason in 2004, 42 different drivers have qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; including this season’s 16-driver field. Three drivers this season are making the Playoff career debuts in the NASCAR Cup Series – Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell and Tyler Reddick. Veterans Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are making their NASCAR Cup Series record tying 15th Playoff appearance – tied with Jimmie Johnson for most all-time.

Nine former NASCAR Cup Series champions make up this season’s 16-driver Playoff field; Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is the only active competitor with multiple championships (2015, 2019).

Champions – Playoff Era
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 7 Jimmie Johnson 2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06
2 2 Kyle Busch 2019, ’15
Tony Stewart 2011, ‘05
4 1 Chase Elliott 2020
Joey Logano 2018
Martin Truex Jr. 2017
Kevin Harvick 2014
Brad Keselowski 2012
9 Kurt Busch 2004

Seven different organizations are represented in this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; with two organizations – Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing – getting all four of their teams into the postseason.

All three NASCAR Cup Series official engine manufacturers have qualified for the Playoffs as well, led by Ford with seven entries into the postseason, followed by Chevrolet with five and Toyota with four.

Looking ahead to Darlington Raceway, six former winners are entered in the race this weekend; led by Kevin Harvick (2020, 2020, 2014) and Denny Hamlin (2020, 2017, 2010) with three wins each.

Driver listed below are by seeding heading into Darlington:

Kyle Larson (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 1 seed with 2,052 points. Larson has made seven series starts at Darlington posting four top fives and six top 10s.

Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Team Penske Ford) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 2 seed with 2,024 points. Blaney is coming back-to-back wins (Michigan & Daytona) to close out the regular season. Blaney has made nine series starts at Darlington posting one top-10 finish (eighth earlier this season).

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 3 seed with 2,024 points and the most recent winner at 1.366-mile track. Truex has made 19 series starts at Darlington posting two wins (2016, 2021), three top fives and nine top 10s.

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 4 seed with 2,022 points. Busch has made 19 series starts at Darlington posting one win (2008) six top fives and 13 top 10s.

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 5 seed with 2,021 points – the same seeding he started with last season and went on to win the 2020 title. Elliott has made nine series starts at Darlington posting two top fives and four top 10s.

Alex Bowman (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 6 seed with 2,015 points. Bowman has made eight series starts at Darlington posting one top five and two top 10s.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 7 seed with 2,015 points. Hamlin has made 18 series starts at Darlington putting up three wins (2010, 2017, 2020), 10 top fives and 14 top 10s.

William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 8 seed with 2,014 points. Byron has made six series starts at Darlington amassing two top fives and two top 10s.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 9 seed with 2,013 points. Logano has made 15 series starts at Darlington grabbing four top fives and seven top 10s.

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) rolls into Darlington Raceway as the No. 10 seed with 2,008 points. Keselowski has made 15 series starts at Darlington accumulating one win (2018), five top fives and seven top 10s.

Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 11 seed with 2,008 points. Busch has made 27 series starts at Darlington posting four top fives and 11 top 10s.

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 12 seed with 2,005 points. Bell has made four series starts at Darlington posting a best finish of 11th last season.

Michael McDowell (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 13 seed with 2,005 points. McDowell has made 12 series starts at Darlington putting up best finish of 16th in this event last season.

Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) rolls into Darlington Raceway as the No. 14 seed with 2,005 points. Almirola has made 12 series starts at Darlington amassing two top-10 finishes.

Tyler Reddick (No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Ford) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 15 seed with 2,003 points. Reddick has made four series starts at Darlington posting one top-10 finish (seventh).

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) starts the Playoffs as the No. 16 seed with 2,002 points. Harvick has made 27 series starts at Darlington grabbing three wins (2014, 2020-1, 2020-3), 11 top fives (series-most among active drivers) and 16 top 10s. He is the defending winner of this event last season and is still looking for his first victory of the 2021 season.

For additional Playoff driver bio information, please visit the following link on NASCARMedia.com – NCS Playoff Media Content Hub.

NASCAR Cup Series has produced some great competition this season

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season has been deemed one of the best and the numbers certainly match the eye test. The first 26 races were phenomenal from a statistical standpoint – record-breaking, even.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season saw 14 different winners, which is tied for the second-highest number in the Playoff Era with 2017, 2012 and 2007. Just one win shy of the Playoff Era record of 15 different winners set in 2014.

This season has seen an increase in green flag passes of +13.2% compared to last year, and the highest total of green flag passes for the lead through 26 races (79,767) since 2007.

In addition, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is averaging 26.7 green flag passes for the lead per race – up 20.8% from the 15-year average of 22.1 per race through the first 26 races of the season. During the regular season, three race tracks have seen records set for green flag passes for the lead – Homestead-Miami Speedway (34), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (56) and Michigan (42).

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Advance Auto Parts Awards $1,200 to NASCAR Short Tracks Following Ryan Blaney Win – Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket parts retailer and entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series (NAAPWS), will award $1,200 to Limaland Motorsports Park in Elida, Ohio, and Bethel Motor Speedway in White Lake, N.Y., after Ryan Blaney captured his third NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2021 season at Daytona International Speedway.

Advance Auto Parts is using its associate sponsorship of Blaney and Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford Mustang to highlight NASCAR-sanctioned local tracks across the U.S. and Canada that are part of the NAAPWS. Limaland and Bethel were featured on Blaney’s car at Daytona. For every Blaney victory in 2021, local NASCAR tracks featured on his car each receive $1,200 to be used for track operations, local driver winnings or supporting a charity of the track’s choosing. In addition to Limaland and Bethel, other tracks receiving winnings following Blaney victories this year include Berlin Raceway (Marne, Mich.), Elko Speedway (Elko New Market, Minn.), Greenville-Pickens Speedway (Easley, S.C.) and Florence Motor Speedway (Timmonsville, S.C.).

This weekend Blaney will have Florence Motor Speedway and Claremont Motorsports Park on the car at Darlington Raceway.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney looking for three straight Cup wins – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney is coming off consecutive wins at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway to close out the regular season and is now looking for his third straight NASCAR Cup Series victory to start the Playoffs at Darlington. If Blaney accomplishes the feat, he will be the 23rd different driver to accomplish the feat all-time and the sixth different active driver; joining Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

NASCAR Cup Series Consecutive Wins – Three or More (Active Drivers)
Driver No. of Wins From To
Kyle Larson 3 Sunday, May 30, 2021 Sunday, June 20, 2021
Kyle Busch 3 Sunday, April 8, 2018 Saturday, April 21, 2018
Kevin Harvick 3 Sunday, February 25, 2018 Sunday, March 11, 2018
Brad Keselowski 3 Sunday, September 2, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Joey Logano 3 Sunday, October 11, 2015 Sunday, October 25, 2015
Kyle Busch 3 Saturday, July 11, 2015 Sunday, July 26, 2015

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Xfinity Series Playoffs on the horizon; three races left in regular season

There are only three races remaining in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season and a lot can happen to shake up the standings. The series took on Daytona International Speedway last weekend, where superspeedway ace Justin Haley punched his ticket to the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs with his first win of the season.

Daytona always produces exciting finishes and this one was no different as Haley won by .023 seconds over his fellow Kaulig Racing teammate AJ Allmendinger. Allmendinger took the white flag in front of the field but in a three-wide finish, it was 22-year-old Haley that was victorious.

With Haley’s win, all three of the Kaulig Racing Chevrolet’s have wins this season and are locked into the post-season.

The race was originally supposed to run under the lights on Friday evening, but rain postponed the event to Saturday, making it a doubleheader at Daytona. There were 17 lead changes and seven cautions for 29 laps. Allmendinger finished second, Justin Allgaier finished third, Jeb Burton fourth and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric, who was leading the regular season points standings, was involved in a crash that left him with a 39th-place finish. After heading into the weekend with the lead in the driver standings, he is now 17 points behind Allmendinger.

This weekend, the series heads back to Darlington Raceway for the second time this season for the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). The race will be 200.1 miles and 147 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 45 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 90.

Hemric and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will lead the field to green with Allmendinger joining him on the front row.

Facts & Figures: Darlington Edition

There have been 62 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Darlington Raceway with 29 pole winners and 34 different race winners. The first-ever Xfinity Series race at the South Carolina track was in 1982 and won by Geoff Bodine.

Chase Elliott holds the record for the youngest winner at 18 years, four months, 14 days in 2014. Dick Trickle has held onto the record for the oldest race winner at 56 years, 10 months, nine days in 1998.

Only 15 races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently in 2017 by Denny Hamlin. Hamlin holds the race record at 141.355 mph in 2015. Carl Edwards holds the Xfinity Darlington qualifying record at 176.994 mph in 2008.

The series last hit the track at Darlington on May 8, 2021 and Justin Allgaier won the race and punched his ticket to the Playoffs. He started 16th and led 10 laps.

There were 13 lead changes and seven different leaders. There were nine cautions for 43 laps and only 28 cars finished on the lead lap. Thirty-four cars total were running at the finish.

Allgaier finished 0.422-seconds over runner-up Josh Berry. The largest Margin of Victory in history at Darlington was 13.959 seconds and the smallest Margin of Victory was 0.066 seconds in 1998.

Battle for Xfinity Series’ Regular Season Championship has heated up

With Team Penske’s Austin Cindric finishing 39th at Daytona last weekend, coupled with Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger nearly winning the race (finished runner-up) the pendulum in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings lead has swung in Allmendinger’s direction putting him up 17 points with just three races remaining.

Prior to losing the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings lead last weekend at Daytona, Austin Cindric had held the No. 1 spot all season long. Cindric won the Regular Season Championship last season and is looking to become the first driver to win multiple regular season titles.

Regular Season Champions
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 1 Austin Cindric 2020
2 1 Tyler Reddick 2019
Justin Allgaier 2018
Elliott Sadler 2017

AJ Allmendinger has been outstanding over the last seven races closing the points gap between Cindric and himself by more than 100 points; including three runner-up finishes and a win at Michigan in the last four races.

Allmendinger has just three races left in the regular season to hold on to the points lead become the fifth different driver to win the Regular Season Championship and collect the 15 additional Playoff points.

Allmendinger made his series track debut at Darlington earlier this season and started first and finished 13th. Cindric has made five starts at Darlington posting one top five and two top 10s. His best finish was fourth in 2020.

King of Darlington: Denny Hamlin returns to Xfinity Series this weekend

Denny Hamlin has always enjoyed running at Darlington Raceway and his numbers would prove why.

He will be back behind the wheel of a Xfinity Series car this weekend for the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 on Saturday in the No. 54 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hamlin has 13 starts at Darlington in the series with five wins, 10 top fives, 12 top 10s and five poles. In every race that he started on the pole, he ended up winning. He competed in this race last season for JGR and started 37th and finished fifth. He has led 586 and has completed 100 percent of laps attempted. He has an average start of 11.4 and an average finish of 5.6.

In the Cup Series, Hamlin has 18 starts at Darlington with three wins, 10 top fives and 14 top 10s. He has an average start of 8.8 and an average finish of 7.4. He has led 598 laps. His most recent win was in June of 2020.

He will start 14th on Saturday, making his first Xfinity Series start of 2021.

Clinch Scenarios: Time is running out in the regular season

Four Playoff positions are still up for grabs, as eight drivers have secured their spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason heading into this weekend’s race at Darlington Raceway.

Already Clinched

The following 7 drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Jeb Burton.

Can Clinch via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 111 points above the 5th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton or Brandon Jones.

  • Noah Gragson: Would clinch with 11 points

If there is a new winner from Jeremy Clements or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 111 points above the 4th winless driver in the standings.

  • Noah Gragson: Would clinch with 20 points

Can Clinch via Previous Wins

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins:

Myatt Snider: Would clinch with 1 point

 

Can Clinch via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone:

Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst, Myatt Snider

 

The following drivers could clinch with a win:

Ryan Sieg and Brandon Brown: Could only clinch with help

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Daytona-2:

Rank Driver Points Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 908 23 5 9 34 In On Wins
2 AJ Allmendinger 925 23 3 8 23
3 Justin Allgaier 800 23 2 1 11
4 Justin Haley 742 22* 1 5 10
5 Jeb Burton 716 23 1 1 6
6 Myatt Snider 515 23 1 0 5
7 Daniel Hemric 779 23 0 5 5 Clinched on Points
8 Harrison Burton 755 23 0 2 2 Clinched on Points
9 Noah Gragson 713 23 0 2 2 227
10 Brandon Jones 567 23 0 1 1 81
11 Jeremy Clements 558 23 0 0 0 72
12 Riley Herbst 554 23 0 0 0 68
13 Michael Annett 486 19* 0 0 0 -68
14 Ryan Sieg 445 23 0 0 0 -109
15 Brandon Brown 443 23 0 0 0 -111

 

AJ Allmendinger took over the points standings from Austin Cindric, who led the way most of the season, after his runner-up finish at Daytona International Speedway. Cindric finished 39th at Daytona after being involved in a wreck early in the race.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Daniel Hemric and Harrison Burton both clinched Playoff spots at Daytona on points so now there are only four spots left. Snyder has secured his spot on wins but needs to clinch on points in the top-20 and will do that this weekend by starting the race; he needs just one point. The final spot in the driver standings Playoff outlook is currently occupied by Riley Herbst and the first spot outside of the cutline is Michael Annett.

As we take a look at the Playoffs standings, with another win to their name, Chevrolet holds the lead for the manufacturer’s championship, too.

Chevrolet has nine wins and 842 points while Toyota also has nine wins but only 825 points, 17 points behind Chevrolet. Ford had five wins and 764 points.

Manufacturers Championship
OEMs Wins Points
Chevrolet 9 842
Toyota 9 825
Ford 5 764

Keeping an eye on the rookie class

Ty Gibbs and Josh Berry have been the stars of the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie class. The two drivers, who have competed part-time in the series, have gone back and forth with the lead since the start of the season.

Currently, up-and-coming driver Ty Gibbs has eight awards and 447, holding the lead on Berry in second place with 435 points and six awards.

Gibbs has made 12 starts this season and has three wins, eight top fives, eight top 10s and one pole award and he isn’t entered to run this weekend at Darlington.

Berry has run in 17 of 24 races this season and has one win, five top fives and 10 top 10s. He is also not slated to run at Darlington on Saturday.

Ryan Vargas is in third in the rookie standings with four awards, Jade Buford is in fourth and Sam Mayer is in fifth. Every driver in the rookie standings has won at least one award throughout the season.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Rookies Points Awards
Ty Gibbs 447 8
Josh Berry 435 6
Ryan Vargas 219 4
Jade Buford 199 2
Sam Mayer 122 2

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Noah Gragson returning to JRM in 2022: JR Motorsports announced that two-time winner Noah Gragson will be back with the team in 2022. The season will mark the fourth straight for Gragson and Bass Pro Shops, True Timber Camo and Black Rifle Coffee will also return with the No. 9 Chevrolet for the third straight season. Gragson has made 89 starts with JRM since 2019 and his first victory in the series came at Daytona International Speedway in 2020. In the same season, he won at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has 34 top fives, 61 top 10s and has made the Playoffs in all three seasons with the team. This season he earned eight top fives, 14 top 10s and won three of the four Xfinity Dash 4 Cash prizes earlier in the season.

Bacarella, Martins partnering in 2022: Caesar Bacarella and Tommy Joe Martins announced that they are partnering to form a new NASCAR Xfinity Series team beginning in 2022. The team will be called Alpha Prime Racing and they’ve already signed their first driver: Rajah Caruth, an ARCA Menards Series driver. Martins announced that he wouldn’t be competing full time in the No. 44 car for his family-owned Martins Motorsports team, opening up the seat to other drivers. Bacarella heard that news and decided that working with Martins to create a new team was something that could lead to success for both of them. Right now, the team is working on filling out their driver roster for 2022. Bacarella will run limited races while also competing in the Lamborghini Blancpain World Challenge America GT3 championship with TR3 Racing. Martins will run between 10-15 races for the team as well.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Darlington Raceway is the next stop on the Playoff schedule

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolls into South Carolina for the second-time this season to take on the ‘Track Too Tough To Tame’, Darlington Raceway, for the In It To Win It 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as part of a Sunday doubleheader with the NASCAR Cup Series (6 p.m. ET).

The 2021 season marks the first year Darlington Raceway has participated in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs since the postseason’s inception in 2016. Darlington Raceway is a 1.366-mile egg-shaped paved oval that has hosted eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.

The first Truck Series race at Darlington Raceway was held on May 12, 2001 and the race was won by Bobby Hamilton driving his own Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge. In total, the eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Darlington Raceway has produced five different pole winners and six different race winners.

This weekend’s In It To Win It 200 will be 147 laps (200.1 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages are scheduled for 45 laps each and the final stage will be 57 laps. The starting lineup for this weekend’s race was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed will start from the pole and ThorSport Racing’s three-time series champion Matt Crafton will join Creed on the front row.

Surprisingly, none of the eight Truck Series races at Darlington have been won from the pole or first starting position. Bobby Hamilton (2001 and 2003) and Kasey Kahne (2004 and 2011) lead the series in wins at Darlington Raceway with two wins each. Sheldon Creed (2021) and Ben Rhodes (2020) are the only two active Darlington winners entered in the event this weekend.

GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed opens Playoffs with dominating win at WWTR at Gateway

2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and GMS Racing driver Sheldon Creed just put every Playoff competitor on notice – he’s here to repeat.

Creed opened the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with a dominating win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, leading 142 of the 163-lap race that went to overtime. It was his second win of the season and seventh of his career.

The victory at Gateway guarantees Creed a spot in the next round of the Playoffs.

Last season, Creed earned a spot in the Championship 4 Round of the Playoffs and won the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to take home the title. This season, Creed is motivated at the opportunity to become just the second driver all-time to win back-to-back championships in the Camping World Truck Series joining Matt Crafton (2013, 2014). If he were to win the championship again this season, he would also become just the fifth driver with multiple titles in the series.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champions
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 4 Ron Hornaday Jr. 2009, ’07, ’98, ‘96
2 3 Matt Crafton 2014, ‘13, ’19
Jack Sprague 2001, ’99, ‘97
4 2 Todd Bodine 2010, ‘06
5 1 Sheldon Creed 2020
Brett Moffitt 2018
Christopher Bell 2017
Johnny Sauter 2016
Erik Jones 2015
James Buescher 2012
Austin Dillon 2011
Johnny Benson Jr. 2008
Ted Musgrave 2005
Bobby Hamilton 2004
Travis Kvapil 2003
Mike Bliss 2002
Greg Biffle 2000
18 Mike Skinner 1995

 

Playoff Clinch Scenarios: Looking to Darlington Raceway

One race into the seven-race NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs and GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed has already locked himself into the next round of the postseason with his win last weekend at Gateway. While the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this weekend, the series will return next weekend at Darlington Raceway for the In It To Win It 200 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round of the Playoffs: Sheldon Creed.

Can Clinch via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance in the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Austin Hill or Carson Hocevar.

  • John Hunter Nemechek: Could only clinch with help
  • Ben Rhodes: Could only clinch with help
  • Matt Crafton: Could only clinch with help
  • Stewart Friesen: Could only clinch with help
  • Austin Hill: Could only clinch with help
  • Carson Hocevar: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Todd Gilliland or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance in the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.

  • John Hunter Nemechek: Could only clinch with help
  • Ben Rhodes: Could only clinch with help
  • Matt Crafton: Could only clinch with help
  • Stewart Friesen: Could only clinch with help
  • Austin Hill: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Austin Hill, Carson Hocevar, Todd Gilliland, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith.

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Sheldon Creed 2,071 2 3 18 In On Wins
2 John H. Nemechek 2,073 5 9 49 55
3 Ben Rhodes 2,070 2 1 19 52
4 Matt Crafton 2,051 0 0 4 33
5 Stewart Friesen 2,049 0 0 1 31
6 Austin Hill 2,039 2 1 21 21
7 Carson Hocevar 2,031 0 0 2 13
8 Todd Gilliland 2,028 1 3 15 10
9 Zane Smith 2,018 0 3 9 -10
10 Chandler Smith 2,010 0 1 1 -18

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie Update – Niece Motorsports’ Carson Hocevar continues to hold the 2021 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead with 2,031 points following Gateway; up 21 points on Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Chandler Smith with 2,010. Hocevar and Smith are the only two rookies to have earned a spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Hocevar made his series track debut at Darlington earlier this season posting a third-place finish. Smith has made two series starts at Darlington posting a best finish of 23rd last season.

Hailie Deegan scores third-best finish by a female in the series – Team DGR’s Hailie Deegan scored her career-best finish of seventh two weeks ago at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway – the third best finish by a female competitor in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the first top-10 finish by a female not at Daytona International Speedway.

Deegan will be making her second career start next weekend at Darlington Raceway. Earlier this season she became the seventh different female competitor to compete at Darlington Raceway in the series; joining Jennifer Jo Cobb (2010, 2020), Johanna Long (2011), Deborah Renshaw (2004), Kelly Sutton (2004), Teri MacDonald (2003) and Tina Gordon (2003).

The best finish by a female competitor in the Truck Series at Darlington Raceway is 14th by Jennifer Jo Cobb on August 14, 2010 – it was Cobb’s series track debut.

Deegan finished 20th in her series debut at Darlington earlier this year.

— NASCAR —