NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Darlington Raceway

Nothing better than honoring the past and paying tribute to the heroes that paved the way for the NASCAR Cup Series today. This weekend at Darlington Raceway the NASCAR legends of today and yesteryear will come together to celebrate Throwback Weekend as the series competes in the 12th race of the 2022 season, the Goodyear 400 on Sunday, May 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Many of the drivers will be paying tribute to the past this weekend with special paint schemes on their cars. For a full detailed list of the paint schemes and cars participating, select this link and visit NASCAR.com’s 2022 Throwback Weekend Photo Gallery.

In addition, to cars on-track having a distinctive look with their paint schemes this weekend, the FOX Sports booth will have some NASCAR Hall of Famers join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer to call portions of the Goodyear 400. The King, Richard Petty will be first up bringing his vast knowledge as the series’ winningest driver. Petty will be in the booth during Stage 1 of the race, followed by Bobby Labonte during the second stage and ‘Awesome Bill from Dawsonville’, Bill Elliott, will close out the race in the final stage.

All three NASCAR Hall of Famers in the FOX Sports booth this weekend have won at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Elliott with five victories (1985 sweep, 1988, 1992, 1994), then Petty with three (1966, 1967 sweep) and Labonte with one (2000).


NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Goodyear 400

The Place: Darlington Raceway

The Date: Sunday, May 8

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,292,599

TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.2 miles (293 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 90),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 293)


Historic Darlington Raceway a perfect stage for Throwback Weekend

The industry and fans alike all agree Darlington Raceway is the perfect stage for Throwback Weekend.

The historic 1.366-mile egg-shaped paved oval, known as Darlington Raceway, has hosted 121 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to 1950. 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 September 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 121 NASCAR Cup Series races have produced 51 different pole winners and 51 different race winners. Five of the 51 NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light pole winners at Darlington Raceway are active this weekend.

Active Pole Winners Poles Seasons
Kevin Harvick 2 2017, 2014
Kurt Busch 2 2013, 2001
William Byron 1 2019
Denny Hamlin 1 2018
Brad Keselowski 1 2015

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 race winners at Darlington Raceway, six are active this weekend.

Active Race Winners Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin 4 2021, 2020, 2017, 2010
Kevin Harvick 3 2020, 2020, 2014
Martin Truex Jr 2 2021, 2016
Erik Jones 1 2019
Brad Keselowski 1 2018
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. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in victories at Darlington with four (2010, 2017, 2020, 2021). Hamlin’s JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of this event.

This weekend’s Goodyear 400 will be 293 laps (400.2 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 90 laps, the second stage will be 95 laps and the final stage will be 108 laps.

On-track activity is set to start with practice from 10:30 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. ET directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 11:05 a.m. ET. Both events will be televised on FS1.

Mother’s Day rare extravaganza

This weekend’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (May 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be just the ninth time in NASCAR Cup Series history the series has competed on Mother’s Day.

Last season was the first time since 2007 the NASCAR Cup Series had competed on Mother’s Day. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. took the win last season on May 9, 2021, becoming the seventh different driver to win on Mother’s Day in the series.

Prior to last season’s race, the most recent winner on Mother’s Day in the NASCAR Cup Series was NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, who won the 2007 rain delayed Darlington Raceway race on May 13, 2007.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker holds the record for the most wins on Mother’s Day in the series at two (1956, 1954).

Race Winner Date Track Holiday
Martin Truex Jr. Sunday, May 9, 2021 Darlington Raceway Mother’s Day
Jeff Gordon Sunday, May 13, 2007 Darlington Raceway Mother’s Day
Cale Yarborough Sunday, May 14, 1978 Talladega Superspeedway Mother’s Day
Benny Parsons Sunday, May 9, 1971 South Boston Speedway Mother’s Day
Bob Welborn Sunday, May 11, 1958 Greensboro Fairgrounds Mother’s Day
Buck Baker Sunday, May 13, 1956 Orange Speedway Mother’s Day
Tim Flock Sunday, May 8, 1955 Arizona State Fairgrounds Mother’s Day
Buck Baker Sunday, May 9, 1954 Wilson Speedway Mother’s Day

Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t missed a beat in 2022

Some have referred to them as the ‘Yankees of NASCAR’ and with how dominant they have been lately in the NASCAR Cup Series the moniker seems fitting. With Chase Elliott’s win at Dover Motor Speedway, it has only taken 11 races this season for all four of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers to earn a win and lock themselves into the Playoffs – a series record for the fewest races for an organization to win with four different drivers to start a season.

Last year Hendrick Motorsports combined to win 17 of the 36 races and extended their series record in championships taking home their 14th NASCAR Cup Series title.

This season, Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t missed a beat. The organization has won with all four drivers totaling five victories in 11 races (45.4% winning percentage) – most of any organization this season.

Looking to this weekend, Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins by an organization at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series with 14 victories – Tim Richmond (1986), Ricky Rudd (1991), Jeff Gordon (1995, ’96 sweep, ’97, ’98, ’02, ’07), Terry Labonte (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep and 2012) and Mark Martin (2009) – but hasn’t visited Victory Lane with since 2012.

None of Hendrick Motorsports’ current roster of drivers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at the 1.366-mile track. Kyle Larson came awfully close finishing second in his last three starts at Darlington – both races in 2021 and the Playoff race of 2020. Watch for Larson to run well this Sunday at Darlington, in eight starts at the ‘Lady in Black’ he has put up five top fives and seven top 10s. He also leads the series in average finish (5.5), average running position (7.1) and driver rating (114.5).

Playoff spots are disappearing each week

Just 15 races left in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season and nine drivers have already visited Victory Lane this year securing their spot in the Playoffs, leaving just seven spots open for the postseason as the series heads to Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400 on Sunday, May 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney currently has the largest points cushion (+109) between himself the Playoff cutline among drivers without a win this season following Dover. Blaney has been close to winning this season leading 370 laps and posting four top fives and six top 10s. But this weekend could be tricky for Blaney, as he has made 10 series starts at Darlington posting just one top-10 finish. His average finish at the track is 19.3.

At the other end of the Playoff outlook sits Petty GMS Motorsports driver Erik Jones in the 16th and final postseason transfer spot on points; just three markers ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon in 17th. This weekend could be a big points gainer for Jones as Darlington is one of his best tracks. The Byron, Michigan native has made eight starts at Darlington posting one win (2019), four top fives and six top 10s. His average finish at 1.366-mile track is a stout 10.1 (third best among active drivers).

2022 Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 11 – Drivers Without Wins
Rank Driver Points Wins Stages Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
10 Ryan Blaney 368 0 4 4 109
11 Martin Truex Jr. 336 0 3 3 77
12 Joey Logano 316 0 0 0 57
13 Christopher Bell 284 0 0 0 25
14 Aric Almirola 283 0 0 0 24
15 Kevin Harvick 280 0 0 0 21
16 Erik Jones 262 0 0 0 3
17 Austin Dillon 259 0 0 0 -3
18 Tyler Reddick 249 0 2 2 -13
19 Daniel Suarez 241 0 1 1 -21
20 Chris Buescher 230 0 0 0 -32
21 Kurt Busch 224 0 0 0 -38
22 Bubba Wallace 214 0 1 1 -48
23 Justin Haley 209 0 0 0 -53
24 Michael McDowell 201 0 0 0 -61
25 Cole Custer 189 0 0 0 -73
26 Ty Dillon 180 0 0 0 -82
27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 169 0 0 0 -93
28 Corey LaJoie 159 0 0 0 -103
29 Todd Gilliland # 151 0 0 0 -111
30 Brad Keselowski 150 0 0 -10 -112

Fab Four: Former Darlington winners without victories this season

A total of six former NASCAR Cup Series Darlington Raceway winners are active this weekend, and four of them are still looking for their first win of the 2022 season.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has three series wins at Darlington (2014, 2020, 2020) and hopes to make it four this weekend. Harvick is currently riding a winless streak that dates back to September 19, 2020 at Bristol Motor Speedway – 54 races ago. This season Harvick has put up one top five and five top 10 in 11 starts. He has made 28 series starts at Darlington collecting two poles, three wins, 12 top fives and 17 top 10s. His average finish is 12.4. He finished sixth in this event last season.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. has two victories at Darlington Raceway (2016, 2021); including this race last season. Truex hasn’t won since September 11, 2021 at Richmond raceway – 19 races ago. This season Truex has amassed two top fives and five top 10s. Truex has made 19 series starts at Darlington posting two wins, four top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish is 10.8.

Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones won at Darlington Raceway in 2019 – just his second career victory in the series. Jones is currently wrestling a winless streak that dates back to his win at Darlington on September 1, 2019 – 94 races ago. Jones this season has put up one top five and four top 10s. The Byron, Michigan native has made eight starts at Darlington posting one win (2019), four top fives and six top 10s. His average finish at 1.366-mile track is 10.1 (third best among active drivers). He finished 18th in this race last season.

RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski also has just a single victory at Darlington Raceway (2018). Keselowski made the jump to invest in RFK Racing and become an owner/driver over the off season and in his first year with organization he has put up just one top-10 finish in 11 starts. Keselowski is straddling a winless streak that dates back to April 25, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway – 37 races ago. Keselowski has made 16 series starts at Darlington putting up one pole, one win, five top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish is 11.1. He finished 24th in this race last season.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty named Darlington’s Honorary Starter – Darlington Raceway and Goodyear, the “Official Tire of NASCAR,” announce that NASCAR Hall of Famer (2010) and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Richard “The King” Petty, will serve as the honorary starter for the Goodyear 400 on Sunday, May 8.

“Richard Petty is an icon in the sports world, so we are proud to add one more accolade to his legendary career as the honorary starter for the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway,” said Kerry Tharp, Darlington Raceway President. “’The King’ will join many of his fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers and legends as part of the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR at the track Too Tough To Tame on May 6-8.”

“Darlington Raceway has always been too tough for me as I only conquered it three times,” said Richard Petty, NASCAR Hall of Famer and chairman for Petty GMS Motorsports. “I generally ran good but did not always finish well. The last time I drove around the track at Darlington in 2017, I got black flagged. This time as the honorary starter, I’ll be holding the flag!”

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: 2022 Goodyear 400 – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

Martin Truex Jr. vs. Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin may have had the fastest car at Dover Motor Speedway this past weekend, but his misfortune found him again. As Hendrick Motorsports has been starting to pull ahead this season, these two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates will try to prove that they can still compete to be the best team in NASCAR. Dominant winners of both 2021 Darlington races, these two led 394 of the 660 laps en route to a win apiece. There is no better track for Hamlin and Truex to right the ship and reach Victory Lane once again.

Ross Chastain vs. Kyle Busch

Ross’ unbelievable season continued at Dover with a P3, and it’s clear that he is a driver who will compete for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship this year. Kyle Busch, even with his two championships, has flown under the radar this year. He easily could have had his second win of the year this week, but an unfortunate caution as he was pitting proved to be too big of a setback at the “Monster Mile.” He’ll be hungry to find Victory Lane for the second time this season, as will Chastain, who could have had his third win of the season if not for Chase Elliott besting him on the final restart. Chastain’s biggest test this year may come at “Too Tough to Tame”.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. vs. Chris Buescher

In the Next Gen car, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chris Buescher have both shown how great of drivers they are. Buescher earned his first pole this week, while Stenhouse wheeled himself to a P2 finish – his best of the season. Buescher has raced very well at Darlington, posting two top-10 finishes in 2021. Stenhouse has shown he has the speed to compete in his No. 47 car and will be looking to build off a robust performance at one of the most historic tracks in NASCAR.

William Byron vs. Ryan Blaney

Two guys that find themselves near the top of the leaderboard every week, it was a down week for both Byron and Blaney, who both failed to finish on the lead lap. That will surely change this week, as both of these drivers will look to find Victory Lane at Darlington for the first time. Byron bests Blaney with his two top-fives at Darlington, but Blaney has shown that you can never count him out. Two of the top drivers in the sport, everyone expects these two to be near the top as the white flag waves next Sunday.

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