StatChat - NASCAR Cup Series @ Darlington 2

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This weekend’s race will take place at Darlington Raceway.  It is a 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.  With each corner being completely different, it is an extremely challenging course.  The track opened in 1950, and has been a staple on the NASCAR schedule ever since.   

 

Sunday’s race is a crown jewel event, called the “Cookout Southern 500,” and is set to be 367 laps (500 miles). Stage breaks will occur at 115 – 230 – 367, with a competition caution at lap 25.  The fuel window is approximately 69-73 laps.

 

NASCAR has run 9,091.03 miles so far this year.  Denny Hamlin has completed 99.90% of them, the most of any driver.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Darlington:

Kyle Larson

6.00 over 7 races

Erik Jones

7.00 over 7 races

Denny Hamlin

7.39 over 18 races

Kyle Busch

10.74 over 19 races

Martin Truex Jr.

11.17 over 18 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Darlington:

BJ McLeod

36.50 over 4 races

Quin Houff

30.75 over 4 races

Corey LaJoie

29.29 over 7 races

Michael McDowell

28.33 over 12 races

Daniel Suarez

25.43 over 7 races

 

While Darlington is a uniquely-shaped track, we will consider it an intermediate track for this article.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Intermediate Tracks:

Kevin Harvick

11.18 over 369 races

Kyle Busch

12.38 over 300 races

Kyle Larson

12.39 over 123 races

Joey Logano

13.29 over 230 races

Brad Keselowski

13.34 over 221 races

 

David Pearson is the winningest driver at Darlington, having won 10 times.  Dale Earnhardt won 9 times, and Jeff Gordon won 7.  As far as current Cup drivers, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have each won 3 races at Darlington.

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Darlington:

Kurt Busch

(has won at 17 other tracks)

Joey Logano

(has won at 15 other tracks)

Ryan Newman

(has won at 12 other tracks)

Chase Elliott

(has won at 11 other tracks)

Kyle Larson

(has won at 9 other tracks)

 

No current drivers earned their first Cup Series win at Darlington.

 

Erik Jones lists Darlington as his BEST track.  No current drivers list it as their worst.

 

Milestone Watch!

Martin Truex Jr.

Currently has 124 Career Top 5s

Kyle Larson

This will be his 250th Cup Series Start

Chris Buescher

Currently has 24 Career Top 10s

 

 

Based on their point pace, let’s have a look at who’s having a better year than last year.

 

Drivers Faring Better than in 2020

William Byron

+260 pts

Daniel Suarez

+255 pts

Tyler Reddick

+212 pts

Christopher Bell

+149 pts

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

+133 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-358 pts

Kevin Harvick

-329 pts

Erik Jones

-240 pts

Brad Keselowski

-224 pts

Joey Logano

-126 pts

 

While some drivers may be doing better this year than they did in 2020, how does this year stack up against their entire career?  This statistic does not include rookies, as this is their first full year in the Cup Series.

 

Drivers Having their BEST Career Year

Denny Hamlin

9.08

Kyle Larson

9.73

Chase Elliott

11.04

Ryan Blaney

11.77

William Byron

13.08

Alex Bowman

14.12

Austin Dillon

15.12

Ross Chastain

18.65

Bubba Wallace

19.15

Michael McDowell

19.65

Ryan Preece

22.08

Corey LaJoie

24.65

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Ryan Newman

20.85

Erik Jones

20.15

 

 

 

In 2017, NASCAR introduced the concept of Stage Racing, which pauses the race at certain intervals and awards bonus points for the top 10 at that moment.  Here are the Top-5 Stage Point earners so far this year:

 

Stage Point Leaders:

Denny Hamlin

283 pts

Kyle Larson

280 pts

Chase Elliott

200 pts

William Byron

198 pts

Kyle Busch

189 pts

 

For those that aren’t aware, the Manufacturer Standings are calculated by awarding points to the highest finisher for each manufacturer according to their finishing position.  (40 for 1st, 35 for 2nd, 34 for 3rd, etc.)  No stage points or playoff points count.

 

Manufacturer Standings

Chevrolet

960

Ford

902

Toyota

882

 

Here is the same formula, but used on a team-vs-team basis:

 

Chartered Team Standings

Hendrick

928

Joe Gibbs

873

Penske

845

Stewart-Haas

753

Chip Ganassi

674

Richard Childress

667

JTG-Daugherty

606

Roush-Fenway

592

Wood Brothers

524

Front Row

475

23XI

467

Richard Petty

441

Trackhouse

418

Spire

395

Rick Ware

257

Live Fast

189

StarCom

124

 

 

 

The race is Sunday, September 5th at 6:00pm EST (3:00pm PST) – Enjoy the races everyone!

 

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