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May 12, 2023

What to Watch: 2023 Darlington Throwback Weekend


Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway
(โฐ 3 p.m. ET | ๐Ÿ“บ FS1, FOX Sports App | ๐Ÿ“ป MRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race in Darlington, the 13th regular season race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | Darlington 101

๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ Fan Vote: Pick your Open driver for the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro

๐Ÿ“ Location: Darlington, South Carolina
๐Ÿ“ Track length: 1.366 miles
๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ Buy tickets: Find weekend passes, seats for the race
๐Ÿ’ฐ Cup Series race purse: $7,722,261
๐Ÿ“ Race distance: 293 laps | 400.2 miles
๐Ÿ”ข Stages: 90 | 185 | 293

๐Ÿšช Entry list: Drivers, teams heading to race
๐Ÿ“‹ Starting lineup: Truex Jr. on pole
๐Ÿš— Pit stall assignments:
See where drivers will pit
๐Ÿ† Most recent winner: Erik Jones
๐Ÿ”ฌInspection: No. 45 crew chief ejected after pre-race
โžก๏ธ To the rear: The 7 and 15 for unapproved adjustments

Key things to watch ๐Ÿ”‘

Top story line

Will feuds boil over in the South Carolina heat? Ross Chastain vs. Noah Gragson, Denny Hamlin vs. Kyle Larson and likely others that are beginning to flare up as we head toward the summer months. Gragson hinted that his beef with Chastain wasn’t over after their fight on pit road at Kansas Speedway, suggesting payback could be in the cards — in whatever form he deems necessary. But in an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Chastain said the two have moved on completely. And then on Saturday at Darlington, Chastain reiterated that the two have moved on.

In the other battle from the weekend, the No. 5 team voiced its displeasure with Hamlin’s aggressive finish to the race on the radio after their incredible last-lap duel. With the season in full swing and the playoffs creeping closer, these on- and off-track battles are something worth keeping an eye on. And we may not have seen the last of them.

๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ Special feature: Has Ross Chastain joined this list of NASCAR’s all-time agitators? Check it out.

History tells us…

Experience rules. Thirteen of the last 15 winners at Darlington have been 30 or older, highlighting an exceptional trend that favors the veteran drivers in the field. And outside of Erik Jones’ pair of victories for Chevrolet, it has mostly been Toyota and Ford drivers enjoying successful attempts to conquer the “Lady in Black.” Toyota has won seven of the last 12, led by Denny Hamlin’s three wins in that span. For Ford, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick (twice) and Joey Logano have each won, too — each a relatively-routine winner. Darlington’s track record is not one that lends itself to new winners or even the youthful stars of the sport.

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Erik Jones. No matter how his season is trending, Jones routinely seems to find magic around this grueling circuit. He is the most recent winner at the track and has led laps in five of his last eight starts here. Under the radar this weekend, Jones presented incredible opening odds at 65-1 (he was listed at 55-1 on Sunday), with two track victories and seven top 10s in 10 career starts. Outside of last season’s win, his results in the Next Gen era have definitely been hit or miss. But at his odds, he is a solid underdog pick since he has proven he can outperform expectations at the “Track Too Tough to Tame.”

Saturday’s sessions

Former Southern 500 winner — not to mention 2021 Goodyear 400 winner — Martin Truex Jr. landed his first Busch Light Pole Award since last summer, putting down a blazing-fast lap of 169.409 mph in Saturday’s qualifying session. He’ll be joined on the front row by Toyota mate Bubba Wallace, followed by a slew of Chevrolets — including Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who notably qualified third. Wallace appears to have a car built for the long run as well, as he turned in the second-best 20-lap average in practice, a figure topped by another driver looking for his first win of 2023 — Chase Elliott. | Read full practice, qualifying recap | No. 45 crew chief ejected

Inside the Race ๐Ÿ”

NBC’s Kyle Petty and MRN’s Todd Gordon break down the important factors to winning a race at Darlington Raceway.

Familiar favorites โญ๏ธ

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– Paint Scheme Preview: Blast from the past with new throwback schemes | Pick a favorite | History behind tributes
– Fantasy Fastlane: Throwback lineup for Throwback Weekend at Darlington | Top Fantasy Live Plays, sleepers | Fantasy Update
– Power Rankings: Can Kyle Larson tame ‘the Lady in Black’ for the first time? | Latest driver rankings
– Betting odds: See which driver is the favorite for Sunday | Top bets, underdog picks (UPDATED SUNDAY)
– At-track photos: Early scenes from Darlington, including a special Goodyear tire | See them here
– Stacking Pennies:
Breaking down the fight, BJ McLeod joins the show | Listen to the podcast

๐Ÿ’Ž NASCAR 75: Honoring NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers … then revealing 25 more | Check out the list

Hot off the press ๐Ÿ“ฐ

Key stories and breaking news from the week leading up to the race.

– Vintage clothing challenge: Kyle Petty judges throwback outfits for Darlington | Watch video
– Fight: Elton Sawyer comments on Gragson-Chastain incident | Read more
– ICYMI:
Noah Gragson, Ross Chastain fight on pit road | Read more
– Kyle Petty:
Former driver defends Chastain, compares him to legend | Watch video
– Penalty:
No. 2 Team Penske Ford team penalized following Kansas | Read more
– NASCAR Salutes:
History of military appreciation in the sport | Read more
– Matt Kenseth:
Hall of Fame driver lands on 75 Greatest Drivers list | Read more
– Photo Memories:
Chase Briscoe remembers loss, win on same day | Watch video
– Pit-road stats: Speedy stops at Kansas benefitted Bubba Wallace, others | Read more
– Stage points:
See the updated list for the 2023 Cup Series season | Read more
– North Wilkesboro:
Exclusive report from open house | Read more | See photos

Get in on the action ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.

– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– Fantasy Live: Still time to get on the leaderboard and win big this season | Tips for 2023
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance:
2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here
– The Action Network: Don’t overlook AJ Allmendinger in juicy driver matchup | Expert analysis
– The Action Network:
Why Bubba is a strong play on Sunday at Darlington | Expert analysis

Down in Darlington ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ

Learn the history behind NASCAR’s first ‘superspeedway,’ including recent winners and race highlights.

– 1963: The track experiment that featured a doubleheader, math and a standing start | Read more
– Oldest ‘superspeedway:’
Darlington is steeped in history and tradition | Read more
– Paint-scheme tradition:
Check out which drivers, teams are paying tribute | See them here
– Race Rewind:
Best moments from the 2022 Darlington playoff race | Relive them
– Vintage view:
Exclusive camera shots from 2022 Throwback Weekend | See them here

Take some notes ๐Ÿ“

Five hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

There has been a green-flag stretch of more than 70 laps in each of the previous five Darlington races.
The Darlington winner started in the top 10 in four of the previous five races.
Five drivers won the last five races at Darlington.
Erik Jones is the only driver under 30 to win at Darlington in the last 15 races.
The last three Darlington winners got their first win of the season.

๐Ÿ”ฎ Predicting the winner: Using data to set a projected finishing order (UPDATED SUNDAY)

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