2021 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Darlington 1

The NASCAR Cup Series will tip back its cap for a throwback race at Darlington Raceway Sunday afternoon. 

While many drivers will pay homage to history by racing in decades-old paint schemes, they will not be afraid to collect a scuff or two at the 1.36-mile low-downforce track. With more drivers locking in playoff berths via victories, a coveted postseason spot is becoming a much hotter commodity. Patience will be key, but so will urgency at the “Lady in Black”. 

Brad Keselowski will start on the pole. With one win already under his belt this season (Apr. 25 at Talladega), the 37-year-old for Team Penske will continue to sharpen his craft in preparation for a stout playoff field. In 14 career starts at Darlington, Keselowski has one victory (Sep. 2, 2018) and five top-five finishes. However, in two of his last three races at the track, he has finished outside the top 10 (13th on May 17, 2020 and 11th on Sep. 6, 2020). 

Kevin Harvick will start second. While Darlington is infamously called “Too Tough to Tame,” the 45-year-old has had his way over his last 10 races there – Harvick has finished inside the top 10 in each of his last 10 races there and has additionally won two of his last three races at the track (May 17, 2020 and Sep. 6, 2020). In 26 career Cup starts at Darlington, Harvick possesses an average finish of 12.9. 

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates in Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will start third and fourth, respectively. Busch picked up his first Cup victory of the season last week at Kansas, while Truex Jr. won at Phoenix (Mar. 14) and Martinsville (Apr. 11). Heading into the Sunday race, Busch maintains a 11.2 average finish in 18 career Cup starts, while Truex Jr. has a 11.8 average finish in 17 Cup starts at Darlington. 

Hamlin, who won at the track on May 20 last season, will start seventh. In 17 career Cup starts at Darlington, Hamlin has three wins and maintains a 7.5 average finish. Hamlin still leads the field in season points (481). 

With his seventh-place finish at Kansas last week, Tyler Reddick has finished inside the top 10 in four of his last five Cup races. In three career Cup races at Darlington, Reddick has finished inside the top 15 in two of them (May 17 and May 20 last season). Reddick will start 10th

Stage lengths for the race will be 90-185-293. Coverage for the race will begin on FS1 at 3:30 p.m. EST with the Motor Racing Network providing all your auditory necessities.

Starting lineup:

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2021/05/04/goodyear-fast-facts-darlington-4/

Leave a Reply