NASCAR race at Darlington: How to watch, starting lineup and predictions

·4 min read

NASCAR heads to Darlington Raceway this weekend for a Mother’s Day race that also falls on the sport’s annual Throwback Weekend. The Goodyear 400 is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on FS1.

Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for the race at the 1.366-mile track in Darlington, South Carolina, with Kevin Harvick in the front row.

Talladega winner Keselowski is ranked sixth in points standings (366 points) behind points leader Denny Hamlin (481), Martin Truex Jr. (394), William Byron (385), Joey Logano (373) and Ryan Blaney (370). Hamlin, Chase Elliott (349) and Harvick (348) are the three drivers ranked in the top-10 without a win this season despite the 10 different winners in the first 11 races.

Two of those drivers — Hamlin and Harvick — lead all active drivers in wins at Darlington with three victories each at the track. Harvick won twice at Darlington last season and Hamlin won once there in 2020. Both have also started this season with a strong average finish but no wins.

“I think our team’s done a great job in managing our cars not being where we want them to be in speed and getting some decent finishes out of that,” Harvick told the Observer. “I think for the most part we’ve not had the speed that we want, so I think everybody’s had their head down and trying to figure that out.”

Harvick finished second at Kansas last weekend and fourth at Talladega the week prior after untimely flat tires hurt the No. 4 Ford team at Richmond and Atlanta earlier this season.

“Last year we felt like we were not where we wanted to be for the first four weeks and then we had eight weeks to work on it, and when we came back we were rolling,” Harvick said of the nine-win tear his team went on last season after the pandemic delay.

“This year we’ve had to manage the lack of speed with trying to scrimp and scrape to get the finishes we need to keep ourselves in the game so that when we get our cars where we want them, we haven’t dug such a huge hole that you can’t get out of it,” he said.

Teams this year will utilize a low-downforce, 750-horsepower package at Darlington compared to the high-downforce package used at the track last year, which means there’s not necessarily the same advantage for last year’s winners. (Nashville Superspeedway will also use the same low-downforce package as Darlington.)

According to BetMGM, Kyle Larson (+400) has the best odds to win, followed by Hamlin (+550) and Truex Jr. (+600), Harvick (+750), Kyle Busch (+800), Keselowski (+950) and Elliott (+1000).

Predictions for NASCAR at Darlington

Larson might have better odds (and three top-five finishes in six starts at Darlington), but Hamlin has more wins at the track. He also finished third at Phoenix earlier this year, which is notably a different beast, but utilizes the same aero and engine package this year. He also led seven laps late in the race last weekend at Kansas despite the 12th place finish after a flat tire. His teammate Truex finished in sixth in that race, and won both races (Martinsville and Phoenix) with the same package this year. My prediction is Darlington goes to a Gibbs driver: Hamlin or Truex.

How to watch NASCAR race at Darlington

Race: Goodyear 400 Distance: 400.2 miles, 293 laps (stages end on Laps 90, 185, 293. The track is 1.366 miles) When: Sunday 3:30 p.m. TV: FS1 Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Starting lineup for NASCAR at Darlington

Order

Driver

Car No.

1

Brad Keselowski

2

2

Kevin Harvick

4

3

Kyle Busch

18

4

Martin Truex Jr.

19

5

William Byron

24

6

Chase Elliott

9

7

Denny Hamlin

11

8

Matt DiBenedetto

21

9

Austin Dillon

3

10

Tyler Reddick

8

11

Chris Buescher

17

12

Joey Logano

22

13

Michael McDowell

34

14

Kyle Larson

5

15

Daniel Suárez

99

16

Ryan Blaney

12

17

Kurt Busch

1

18

Ross Chastain

42

19

Alex Bowman

48

20

Ryan Newman

6

21

Christopher Bell

20

22

Chase Briscoe

14

23

Bubba Wallace

23

24

Cole Custer

41

25

Anthony Alfredo

38

26

Erik Jones

43

27

Aric Almirola

10

28

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

47

29

Ryan Preece

37

30

Corey LaJoie

7

31

Justin Haley

77

32

BJ McLeod

78

33

Cody Ware

51

34

JJ Yeley

53

35

Quin Houff

0

36

James Davison

15

37

Josh Bilicki

52