Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC — May 8, 2022
If you have not been to Darlington Raceway in the past few years, it’s a must-see trip for NASCAR fans. There is 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. Many of the drivers will be paying tribute to the past this weekend with special paint schemes on their cars.
Playoff Spots at a Premium
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
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney currently has the largest points cushion (+109) between himself and 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 the 1.366-mile track is a stout 10.1 (third-best among active drivers).
Fox has a special treat for viewers today as 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 Fame commentators for FOX Sports 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).
Stages today are 90/95/108 laps around the historic 1.366-mile egg-shaped paved oval, the 293 circuits around the “Track too Tough to Tame” are equal to 400.2 miles of racing.
A total of 75 cars competed in the inaugural event in 1950 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.
Joey Logano sits on the pole today with a speed of 170.720. Kyle Larson starts beside Logano on the front row. Four drivers were sent to the rear of the field for the start, Kevin Harvick (no qualifying time and unapproved adjustments), Chase Elliott(backup car), Denny Hamlin (unapproved adjustments), and BJ McLeod (no qualifying time and unapproved adjustments).
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|
Martin Truex Jr. is the defending champion of the race.
Kyle Larson(5) took the lead into Turn One as the field fell into single file racing on Lap One. On Lap Two, cars at the rear of the field had to check up for a slow race car on the outside groove. Chase Elliott(9) tapped the rear of Brad Keselowski(6) and sent him spinning, just brushing the inside wall. Keselowski lost a lap while in the pits for minor repairs.
NASCAR scheduled a competition caution for after Lap 30 as rains overnight in Darlington washed the track clean. Joey Logano was first off pit road regaining the top spot from Larson.
Kurt Busch(45) did not get his left rear tire on properly and it fell off as he started to exit his pit stall. Fortunately, Busch’s crew was able to stop him before the car was completely out of their pit box. The extra time on pit road cost Busch track position as he restarted in 29th position, but still on the lead lap.
On the restart, Logano flexed the muscles of his Ford Mustang and pulled away from Larson. As drivers settled into line, Kyle Busch(18), Martin Truex Jr.(19), and Ryan Blaney(12) rounded out the top five.
With 42 laps to go, JJ Yeley(15) hit the wall hard but kept control of his car and was able to make it to pit road without the caution being displayed. Yelley did go two laps down getting his car serviced.
Five laps later, Larson was battling Kyle Busch for the second spot when he overdrove a corner on the inside of the #18 car and spun. The caution waved and Larson went to the pits, costing the Hendrick Motorsports drive a lot of track position.
On the restart, Logano and Kyle Busch drove three laps side-by-side until Busch finally prevailed and took over the lead.
With 20 laps to go Kyle Busch led, Logano sat second, Ross Chastain(1), Christopher Bell(20), and William Byron(24) made up the remainder of the top five. Kyle Busch began to complain that his front tires were going away and with 11 laps to go, he surrendered the lead to Logano. Chastain also made a pass for position moving up to second.
Stage 1 Results
|5||19||Martin Truex Jr.||6|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Austin Dillon(3) was caught speeding on pit road during the Stage ending stops and was penalized by being sent to the rear of the field. On the restart, Logano and Kyle Busch were lined up on the front row. Logano got a big jump and pulled away quickly. Chastain was also able to get by Busch into second. Truex and Erik Jones(43) followed.
At Lap 115, Larson’s car lost power going down the backstretch and rolled to a stop as he coasted it onto pit road. Engine failure made Larson the first car out of the race as his crew pushed the vehicle behind the wall.
Green flag pit stops began on Lap 134 as tires began to go away. Drivers lose a lap on pit road at Darlington so there is always a chance that a caution would scramble the field if one came out during the service cycle.
When stops were complete, Truex was out front followed by Tyler Reddick(8) Logano, Chastain, and Denny Hamlin(11).
With 20 Laps to go in Stage Two, Chastain passed Truex to take over the lead. A lap later something broke on the right front of Keselowski’s car and he hit the Turn Two outside wall hard. Bouncing off the wall he collected Kyle Busch in the incident knocking both cars out of the race.
Busch was able to drive his car back to pit road but it finally came to a halt at the opening in the pits which provides access to the garage. Frustrated, Busch exited the car and walked to his hauler, leaving his car sitting blocking pit road.
NASCAR officials came to the hauler and picked up Busch taking him to the infield care center per the rule that all drivers involved in an on-track collision must be checked over by the tracks medical staff.
The restart came with 11 laps to go and Chastain in the lead. Truex, Hamlin, Logano, and Byron were in the mix for the maximum bonus points at the end of the Stage. Chastain held on for the second Stage win of his Cup career.
Stage 2 Results
|2||19||Martin Truex Jr.||9|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
Pit road remained closed for an extended period of time after BJ McLeod(78) came in with fire belching from under the hood of his race car. Safety crews worked to put out the fire and the car had to be removed before opening the pits for service.
Hamlin exited the pits first followed by Chastain, Logano, Byron, and Aric Almirola(10). With Hamlin and Chastain running side-by-side through Turns One and Two, Chastain got loose entering the backstretch and spun into the inside wall doing significant damage to his race car.
Logano joined the front row next to Hamlin for the next restart and he easily drove around Denny into Turn One. Hamlin regained the lead with 84 laps to go as everyone seemed to be taking care of their tries hoping for a long green-flag run.
Joey Logano was the first of the leaders to come to pit road with 55 laps to go. That opened up the window for green-flag stops to begin among the top-10 cars.
Tyler Reddick inherited the lead because he had stopped early in the Stage. While Reddick must stop again all of the other leaders are expected to good on gas and tires to the finish. Logano, by virtue of stopping earlier than the other leaders was out just behind Reddick.
Alex Bowman hit the wall in Turn Two with 39 laps to go, bringing out the 8th caution of the day. The incident was a huge break for Reddick as he was able to pit under caution with the leaders who were tracking him down.
Logano was first out with Reddick coming out just behind Joey. Byron, Truex, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47) completed the top five.
With the first four cars firing off on the restart under a blanket, trouble exploded out of Turn Two. Truex got loose and a superspeedway style “big one” was on.
Elliott, Hamlin, Blaney, Chase Briscoe(14), Bubba Wallace(23), Cole Custer(41), Jones, and Kurt Busch were all involved to some degree.
The race restarted with 26 laps to go. With Logano and Byron sitting on the front row they raced into Turn One. Byron squeezed Logano high and took the top spot quickly building an interval on second place.
Reddick ran third, Justin Haley(31) was fourth, and Kevin Harvick(4) was fifth. Harvick has 12 straight top-10 finishes at Darlington and it appears he will extend that streak even after starting today’s race at the rear of the 36 car field.
With five laps to go Logano was catching Byron whose car appeared to be getting loose. Two to go and Logano was on his bumper. Coming to the white flag Logano used the bump and run to get Byron loose sending the #24 car into the wall. Logano drove around to take the white and then the checkered flag ending a 40-race personal winless streak.
Byron had tires go down and limped to a finish in 13th place. He called Logano an “idiot” for the late-race move. Logano claimed it was in “retaliation” for Byron running him into the wall on the final restart.
Stayed tuned the drama continues next week at Kansas Speedway in the AdventHealth 400.
The big loser in the late-race crash at Darlington was Erik Jones. He came to Darlington in the top-16 and ran in the top-10 all day until the accident triggered by Martin Truex Jr. He trails Austin Dillon by five points and is now 18th in the standings. A single point separates teammates Dillon and Tyler Reddick at the bubble.
With 10 different drivers taking a checkered flag so far this season, only six playoff spots remain unfilled. With 14 races left in the regular season, it is a good possibility all six of those spots could be occupied by a race winner.
|1||William Byron||388||In Win (2)|
|2||Ross Chastain||364||In Win (2)|
|3||Chase Elliott||453||In Win|
|4||Joey Logano*||374||In Win|
|5||Kyle Busch||364||In Win|
|6||Alex Bowman||357||In Win|
|7||Kyle Larson||336||In Win|
|8||Chase Briscoe*||288||In Win|
|9||Austin Cindric*||258||In Win|
|10||Denny Hamlin||231||In Win|
|12||Martin Truex Jr.||364||+78|
|NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Results of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway
|8||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||8.132||293|
|24||19||Martin Truex Jr.||-30||263|