NASCAR Playoff Opener Goes to Kyle Larson in the Southern 500 at Darlington

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Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC — September 3, 2023

With the NASCAR regular season in the rearview mirror, The Cup Series playoffs begin tonight at Darlington Raceway. The 2023 season marks the 20th year the NASCAR Cup Series has crowned its champion in a Playoff format and just the fourth time the postseason has opened at Darlington Raceway (2020-2023). Racing at the historic ‘Lady In Black’ is a contest unto itself, but the competitors vying for this season’s title are ready for the challenge in this year’s Cook Out Southern 500.

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, Chicagoland Speedway held the first race of the Playoffs from 2011–2017, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted the first event 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.

First Playoff Race Success

The winner of the opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the title that same season 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 (the race was delayed until Monday due to rain), NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart won his first race of the season in 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 – a feat Kyle Larson matched in 2021.

In 2012, Brad Keselowski won the Playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway and went on to win the title. And in 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won the Playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway to open the Playoffs and went on to win the championship that same season.

2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Schedule
Track Race Name Date
Darlington Raceway Cook Out Southern 500 Sunday, September 3, 2023
Kansas Speedway Hollywood Casino 400 Sunday, September 10, 2023
Bristol Motor Speedway Bass Pro Shops Night Race Saturday, September 16, 2023
Texas Motor Speedway AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Sunday, September 24, 2023
Talladega Superspeedway YellaWood 500 Sunday, October 1, 2023
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course Bank of America ROVAL 400 Sunday, October 8, 2023
Las Vegas Motor Speedway South Point 400 Sunday, October 15, 2023
Homestead-Miami Speedway NCS Race at Homestead-Miami Sunday, October 22, 2023
Martinsville Speedway Xfinity 500 Sunday, October 29, 2023
Phoenix Raceway NASCAR Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 5, 2023

 

A Breakdown of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Format

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

  • 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 Round.
  • 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.
  • The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will earn a spot in the Playoffs – provided they have 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 the 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 Rounds Explained

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 at Darlington, Kansas, Bristol) 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 on wins will be based on points. Each driver will then have their points reset to 3,000, with any awarded Playoff points added.
  • Round of 12: The second round (races 30-32 at Texas, Talladega, Charlotte RC) 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 on 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 at Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami, Martinsville) 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 on 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.

The Championship Race

  • The 36th and final race of the season will be the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway, 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.

The Playoff Drivers

William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 1 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,036 points – up +29 points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his fifth consecutive appearance in the postseason (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’20, ’19). Byron is currently tied in points with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. but owns the No. 1 seed due to the tiebreaker of most wins. Byron has made 10 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, amassing one pole, one win (2023), three top fives, and four top 10s. His average finish at the 1.366-mile track is 16.8. If Byron were to win this weekend, he would become the 14th different driver in the NASCAR Cup Series to post consecutive wins at Darlington; Dale Earnhardt (1989-1990) and Jeff Gordon (1995-1996) are tied for the series-most consecutive wins at Darlington with three each.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing) heads to Darlington Raceway as the Regular Season Champion – just the second driver in the series to win multiple Regular Season Championships (2017, 2023), joining Kyle Busch (2018, 2019). Truex enters the Playoffs as the No. 2 seed with 2,036 points – up +29 points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his 10th postseason appearance (2023, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’17, ’16, ’15, ’12, ’07). Truex has made 22 series starts at Darlington Raceway, putting up one pole, two wins (2016, 2021), four top fives, and 10 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.366-mile track is 13.2.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 3 seed in this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,025 points – up +18 points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his record-setting 17th postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’17, ’16, ’15, ’14, ’12, ’11, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06). Hamlin has made 22 series starts at Darlington Raceway, putting up one pole, four wins (series-most among active drivers: 2010, 2017, 2020, 2021), 12 top fives, and 16 top 10s. His average finish at Darlington is 7.7 – best among active drivers.

Chris Buescher (No. 17 RFK Racing Ford) rolls into Darlington Raceway after winning the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway as the No. 4 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,021 points – up +14 points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his second appearance in the postseason (2023, ’16). Buescher has made 12 series starts at Darlington, posting three top-10 finishes. His average finish at Darlington is 17.5.

Kyle Busch (No. 8 Richard Childress Racing) arrives at Darlington Raceway as the No. 5 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,019 points – up +12 points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his 16th postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’17, ’16, ’15, ’14, ’13, ’11, ’10, ’08, ’07, ’06). Busch has made 23 series starts at Darlington posting one win (2008), six top fives, and 14 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.366-mile track is 13.4.

Kyle Larson (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 6 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,017 points – up +10 points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his seventh postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’19, ’18, ’17, ’16). Larson has made 11 series starts at Darlington, posting five top fives and seven top 10s. His average finish at the 1.366-mile facility is 10.1 – second-best among active drivers.

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 7 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,014 points – up seven points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his third postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21). Bell has made eight series starts at Darlington Raceway, collecting one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His average finish at Darlington is 16.0.

Ross Chastain (No. 1 Trackhouse Racing) rolls into Darlington Raceway as the No. 8 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,011 points – up four points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his second career postseason appearance (2023, ’22). Looking to Darlington, Chastain has made eight series starts at the egg-shaped track accumulating one top-five and one top-10 finish. His average finish at Darlington is 22.8.

Brad Keselowski (No. 6 RFK Racing Ford) returns to Darlington Raceway as the No. 9 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,010 points – up three points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his 11th appearance in the postseason (2023, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’17, ’16, ’15, ’14, ’12, ’11). Keselowski has made 19 series starts at Darlington Raceway, posting one pole, one win (2018), six top fives, and 10 top 10s. His average finish at Darlington is 11.7 – third-best among active drivers.

Tyler Reddick (No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota) arrives at Darlington Raceway as the No. 10 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,009 points – up two points on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his third career appearance in the postseason (2023, ‘22, ‘21). Reddick has made eight series starts at Darlington Raceway, posting two top-five and three top-10 finishes. His average finish at Darlington is 12.5.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford), last season’s champion, heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 11 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,008 points – up just one point on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his 10th postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’16, ’15, ’14, ’13). Logano returns to the ‘Lady In Black,’ having made 19 series career starts at Darlington, grabbing two poles, one win (2022), six top fives, and 10 top 10s. His average finish at Darlington is 13.2.

Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Team Penske Ford) heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 12 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,008 points – up just one point on the Round of 12 cutoff – in his seventh postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’17). Blaney has made 13 series starts at Darlington, posting two top-10 finishes. His average finish at the South Carolina track is 17.8.

Michael McDowell (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford) arrives at Darlington Raceway as the No. 13 seed in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,007 points – one point back from Ryan Blaney in the 12th and final transfer spot on points to the Round of 12 – in his second appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series postseason (2023, ’21). McDowell has made 16 series starts at Darlington, putting up two top-10 finishes. His average finish at the historic track is 26.4

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing) will start the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the No. 14 seed with 2,005 points – three points behind the Round of 12 cutoff – in his second appearance in the postseason (2023, ’17). Stenhouse has made 15 series starts at Darlington Raceway, putting up one top-10 finish. His average finish at the egg-shaped track is 23.0.

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) starts off the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the No. 15 seed with 2,004 points – back four points from the Round of 12 cutoff – in his record-setting 17th career postseason appearance (2023, ‘22, ’21, ’20, ’19, ’18, ’17, ’16, ’15, ’14, ’13, ’12, ’11, ’10, ’08, ’07, ’06). Harvick has made 31 series starts at Darlington Raceway, grabbing three wins (2014, 2020-1, 2020-3), 13 top fives, and 19 top 10s. His average finish at Darlington is 12.4.

Bubba Wallace (No. 23 23XI Racing) is climbing off of Cloud-9 this week after earning the final spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in the regular season finale at Daytona. Now the Alabama native heads to Darlington Raceway as the No. 16 seed with 2,000 points – back eight points from the Round of 12 cutoff – in his first postseason appearance (2023). Wallace has made ten series starts at Darlington posting one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at Darlington is 20.8.

NASCAR Cup Series Initial Playoff Standings and Round One Projections
Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff Lasco Press Round 1 Projection
William Byron 2,036 5 8 36 29 Advances
Martin Truex Jr. 2,036 3 6 36 29 Advances
Denny Hamlin 2,025 2 5 25 18 Advances
Chris Buescher* 2,021 3 1 21 14 Advances
Kyle Busch 2,019 3 2 19 12 Advances
Kyle Larson 2,017 2 3 17 10 Advances
Christopher Bell 2,014 1 2 14 7 Advances
Ross Chastain 2,011 1 5 11 4 Eliminated
Brad Keselowski* 2,010 0 4 10 3 Advances
Tyler Reddick 2,009 1 4 9 2 Advances
Joey Logano* 2,008 1 3 8 1 Advances
Ryan Blaney* 2,008 1 3 8 1 Advances
Michael McDowell* 2,007 1 2 7 -1 Eliminated
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2,005 1 0 5 -3 Eliminated
Kevin Harvick* 2,004 0 1 4 -4 Advances
Bubba Wallace 2,000 0 0 0 -8 Eliminated

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Today’s Race

The Cook Out Southern 500 will consist of 367 circuits of Darlington Raceway with Stages set for 115/115/137 laps. Erik Jones is the defending champion of the race. Christopher Bell sits on the pole for tonight’s race with Denny Hamlin starting beside him on the front row.

There are eight active drivers with wins at the famed “Track Too Tough to Tame.”

Active Darlington Race Winners Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin(P) 4 2021-2, 2020-2, 2017, 2010
Kevin Harvick(P) 3 2020-3, 2020-1, 2014
Erik Jones 2 2022, 2019
Martin Truex Jr(P) 2 2021, 2016
William Byron(P) 1 2023
Joey Logano(P) 1 2022
Brad Keselowski(P) 1 2018
Kyle Busch(P) 1 2008

(P) Playoff Drivers

Stage One

Christopher Bell(20) jumped out in front of everyone on the drop of the green flag. He pulled up in front of Denny Hamlin(11), and Tyler Reddick(45) followed him past to quickly take over the second position.

Ryan Blaney(12) and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. The front of the pack fell into line content to log laps while the remainder of the field jockeyed for positions.

Green flag pit stops began 33 laps in, with Michael McDowell becoming the first playoff driver to hit pit road. The remainder of the field quickly followed suit.

Tire wear is the thing motivating the pit stops. The racing surface of Darlington Raceway is very abrasive, and tire falloff is severe. A driver that stays out can lose significant track position as a result of running slow laps on worn tires compared to the laps turned on fresh rubber.

When pit stops cycled through, Reddick was out front. Followed by Hamlin, Bell, Keselowski, and Blaney. And again, passing at the front of the pack was limited, with no one pulling out of line.

Round two of green flag stops began at lap 69. New names appeared at the top of the leaderboard after this cycle. Reddick was back to the lead, followed by Hamlin.

Kyle Larson(5) and Kevin Harvick(4) moved into the third and fourth spots, respectively. Blaney hung on to fifth for a short time until being passed by Bell.

On Lap 92, Hamlin took over the top spot. But he could not pull away from Reddick.

Nine of the top ten cars were playoff drivers. With Chase Elliott(9) being the only exception. Only 23 cars remained on the lead lap as 100 laps went up on the board.

Sundown at Darlington / NASCAR Photo

Ross Chastain(1), Michael McDowell(34), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47) were the playoff drivers included in the lap-down cars.

Hamlin held on for the Stage win, earning another playoff point to add to his postseason total that will follow him round by round.

Bubba Wallace(23) spun just as the leaders were taking the green and white checkered flag to end the Stage. No damage to his car, and he will get fresh tires during the Stage-ending caution.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 10
2 45 Tyler Reddick (P) 9
3 5 Kyle Larson (P) 8
4 4 Kevin Harvick (P)* 7
5 12 Ryan Blaney (P)* 6
6 6 Brad Keselowski (P)* 5
7 9 Chase Elliott 4
8 20 Christopher Bell (P) 3
9 17 Chris Buescher (P)* 2
10 10 Aric Almirola* 1

(P)=Playoff Driver, * Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage Two

With the same number of laps in Stage Two as the first Stage, expect pit strategies to be very similar unless the run is interrupted by a caution flag for an on-track incident.

The top five remained the same as the drivers exited pit road. Hamlin held the lead into turn run. But Larson replaced Reddick in the second position.

Hamlin Leads at Darlington / NASCAR Photo

Chastain returned to the lead lap after being rewarded with the lucky dog pass for being the first car one lap down.

This time, Keselowski was the first driver to make a green flag pitstop on lap 34. Just like Stage One, everyone followed over the next few laps.

After all stops were complete, Hamlin retained the lead. Larson, Harvick, William Byron(24), and Reddick followed. Michigan’s Erik Jones(43), the defending champion of the race, worked his way into the top 10. Jones loves this racetrack and will be considered a threat to repeat if he can maintain track position.

The caution flag waved on lap 178, just in time for teams to make their second stop of the stage. The trackside lights that aim across the track to illuminate the wall went out in turn four. NASCAR and the track crew worked to correct the problem as teams came to their pit locations for service.

Hamlin was first off the pit road, followed by Byron, Larson, Harvick, Reddick, and Erik Jones as he continued to move forward, exiting the pits in sixth.

While work continued on the light issue, NASCAR made the decision to red-flag the race. Parking the cars on the backstretch. The delay was only seven minutes, and they were back racing with 39 laps to go in Stage Two.

BJ McLeod’s(78) car stalled on the track bringing out the caution on lap 215. Everyone pitted for the sprint to the end of the Stage.

Hamlin, Larson Jones, Byron and Reddick will contend for the Stage win when the race restarts with nine laps to go.

Ty Gibbs(54) and Austin Cindric(2) get together with six laps to go in the stage. Both cars continued, but Cindric got the worst of the incident as the nose of his car slid along the wall as they tangled.

Cars behind the leaders pitted for fresh tires. They will have track position when the leaders pit at the Stage break. The race will restart with one lap to go.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 10
2 5 Kyle Larson (P) 9
3 43 Erik Jones 8
4 45 Tyler Reddick (P) 7
5 24 William Byron (P) 6
6 8 Kyle Busch (P) 5
7 12 Ryan Blaney (P)* 4
8 3 Austin Dillon 3
9 6 Brad Keselowski (P)* 2
10 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (P) 1

(P)=Playoff Driver, * Ford Mustang Driver

The Final Stage

Surprisingly few cars pitted at the end of Stage Two with the top five staying on the track. Hamlin led on the restart followed by Larson, Reddick, Byron, and Jones. Two new names appeared in the top ten, Chris Buescher(17) and Chase Briscoe(14).

If teams choose to limit themselves to two pit stops in this Stage, drivers will have to run approximately 43 laps between each stop. With tire wear being the factor it is, those 10 extra laps should be a real handful for the drivers.

With 110 laps to go, Kyle Larson tapped the wall hard enough to kick the transmission out of gear. He slowly began dropping positions, trying to hold on long enough to reach his preferred pit window.

Kevin Harvick looked to be the fastest car on the track with 100 laps to go. He moved ahead of Larson into fourth and was closing the interval between himself and the leader.

Green flag stops began early, with 97 laps to go. Teams may have to adjust their pit schedule if the race stays green to the finish.

Denny Hamlin, who had led 177 laps in the race, complained of a loose wheel after his pit stop and had to return to pit road for right-side tires. The unplanned stop cost Hamlin dearly as he went a lap down to the field in 30th place.

The new top five after this pit cycle were Reddick, Byron, Harvick, Larson, and Jones. Lurking in sixth place, Chris Buescher, undoubtedly the hottest driver on the circuit, the last month of the regular season.

Harvick caught Reddick, and the battle for the lead was on. Unfortunately, it did not last long. With 58 laps to go, Kyle Busch pitted, and the mass exit to pit road was on. Harvick committed to pit road just as Ryan Newman(51) spun. The pit road closed just before Harvick entered. He should have gone through the pits and re-entered the track. Instead, he stopped and was penalized by being sent to the rear of the field.

Byron and Larson were also headed to pit road. However, they saw the flashing red light and veered back onto the track.

After stops under the caution, Larson led, Buescher, Reddick, Byron, and Keselowski followed.

Late Trouble

Shortly after the restart, Alex Bowman(48) threw a big block on Daniel Suarez(99). The two cars beat on each other and ended up in the wall with severe damage. Harrison Burton(21), an innocent victim of the bumper tag, got caught up in the incident as well. The caution laps will help with the tire wear situation.

Drivers outside of the top five came to pit road under the caution for fresh rubber. The leaders stayed out.

The race restarted with 40 laps to go, with Larson and Buescher on the front row. They had only completed three laps when a bunch of cars began bouncing off each other down the front stretch. Kyle Busch(8), McDowell, Todd Gilliland(38), Hamlin, and Bell were all involved. McDowell suffered the most damage and had to take his race car to the garage.

Now with 30 laps to go, it will be an all-out sprint to the finish.

Larson was out front, and Reddick was putting pressure on the leader. Buescher had faded one second back and appeared out of contention for the win. Keselowski was the fastest car on the track. He pitted and restarted in 16th and had worked his way back into the top ten. However, it appeared the effort would be too little, too late.

With ten laps to go, Buscher began to close on the leaders. The treat changed Reddick’s line allowing Larson to pull away slightly. Buescher was stuck behind Reddick, which allowed Byron to make it a three-way fight for second.

Larson held on for the win and automatically advanced to the Round of 12 regardless of what happens in the next two races.

Larson in Victory Lane / NASCAR Photo

Playoff drivers finished in positions one through nine. Erik Jones, a non-playoff driver, finished tenth.

Playoff Standings

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS TO CUT LINE
1 24 William Byron 2075 ‘+45
2 5 Kyle Larson 2074 Advanced Win
3 45 Tyler Reddick 2060 +29
4 17 Chris Buescher* 2057 +27
5 11 Denny Hamlin 2057 +27
6 19 Martin Truex Jr 2055 +25
7 8 Kyle Busch 2050 +20
8 6 Brad Keselowski* 2048 +18
9 12 Ryan Blaney* 2046 +16
10 1 Ross Chastain 2043 +13
11 22 Joey Logano* 2033 +3
12 20 Christopher Bell 2031 +1
NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 Cut Line
13 Bubba Wallace 2030 -1
14 Kevin Harvick* 2029 -2
15 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 2027 -4
16 Michael McDowell* 2012 -19

*Ford Mustang Drivers

In addition to Kyle Larson, the big winner was William Byron. With a solid performance, he leads the points standings and is almost locked into the Round of 12 based on points.

The big loser? Kevin Harvick. With a car that ran in the top ten most of the day, Harvick’s crew made the worst mistake of the evening, pitting their car illegally and costing their driver an opportunity to build a points cushion heading to Kansas next Sunday.

Results of the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 5 Kyle Larson (P) 367
2 45 Tyler Reddick (P) 0.447 367
3 17 Chris Buescher (P) 0.898 367
4 24 William Byron (P) 0.930 367
5 1 Ross Chastain (P) 3.160 367
6 6 Brad Keselowski (P) 6.517 367
7 23 Bubba Wallace (P) 7.586 367
8 9 Chase Elliott (P) 7.977 367
9 12 Ryan Blaney (P) 8.224 367
10 43 Erik Jones 8.533 367
11 8 Kyle Busch (P) 8.887 367
12 22 Joey Logano (P) 8.969 367
13 16 AJ Allmendinger 9.432 367
14 10 Aric Almirola 11.269 367
15 14 Chase Briscoe 12.093 367
16 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (P) 12.742 367
17 42 Carson Hocevar 12.991 367
18 19 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 13.444 367
19 4 Kevin Harvick (P) 13.558 367
20 3 Austin Dillon 14.390 367
21 54 Ty Gibbs 14.990 367
22 7 Corey LaJoie 15.157 367
23 20 Christopher Bell (P) -1 366
24 31 Justin Haley -1 366
25 11 Denny Hamlin (P) -1 366
26 38 Todd Gilliland -1 366
27 51 Ryan Newman -2 365
28 41 Ryan Preece -3 364
29 77 Ty Dillon -3 364
30 15 JJ Yeley -5 362
31 2 Austin Cindric -6 361
32 34 Michael McDowell (P) -38 329
33 48 Alex Bowman -45 322
34 99 Daniel Suarez -47 320
35 21 Harrison Burton -49 318
36 78 BJ McLeod -157 210