NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500
Darlington Raceway Distance: 501.3 miles (367 laps)
Sunday, Sept. 4 6 p.m. ET TV: NBC, 6 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200
Darlington Raceway Distance: 200.8 miles (147 laps)
Saturday, Sept. 3 3:30 p.m. ET TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Distance: 182.16 miles (45 laps)
The Date: Sunday, Sept. 4 2:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Camping World Truck fans rejoice! The Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will be live streamed for all of Canada!
NASCAR Pinty’s Series Can-Am 200
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Race Length: 51 laps (125.4 miles, 201.8 kilometers)
Track Layout: 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course Sunday, Sept. 4 11:05 a.m. ET
Telecast: TSN – Sun., Sept. 11, 2 p.m.; RDS2 – Tues., Oct. 4, 7 p.m. ET
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Grand Larson: Kyle Larson Wins First Career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race
Kyle Larson led a race-high 41 laps on his way to his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The triumph marked the first time a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs has won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Larson’s win came in his 99th career start. It was the first victory for Chip Ganassi Racing in 99 contests, when Jamie McMurray won at Talladega in fall of 2013.
The No. 42 Chevrolet driver will attempt to continue his winning ways in Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. ET on NBC). Larson has finished in the top 10 in both of his career starts at The Lady in Black.
Two Races To Go: Chase Starts In Less Than Two Weeks
Only two races remain until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and next week’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Here’s how the Chase Grid shakes out right now: Brad Keselowski (4 wins), Kyle Busch (4 wins), Kevin Harvick (2 wins), Carl Edwards (2 wins), Denny Hamlin (2 wins), Jimmie Johnson (2 wins), Matt Kenseth (2 wins), Kurt Busch (1 win), Joey Logano (1 win), Martin Truex Jr. (1 win), Kyle Larson (1 win), Tony Stewart (1 win), Chris Buescher (1 win), Chase Elliott (27 points above Ryan Newman on the cutoff line), Austin Dillon (+21) and Jamie McMurray (+15).
The first four out are Ryan Newman (15 points behind Jamie McMurray on the cutoff line), Kasey Kahne (-52), Trevor Bayne (-58) and Ryan Blaney (-71).
Remember, a driver can get into the Chase with a win as long as he/she is in the top 30 in points following Richmond and he/she attempted every race. On Sunday at Michigan, Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson clinched a Chase spot.
Buescher currently sits 30th in the points standings – seven markers ahead of 31st-place David Ragan. If he falls out of the top 30, he will not make the Chase even with his win.
The currently winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at Darlington are Greg Biffle and Regan Smith. Those who have triumphed at Richmond are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.
Let Me Tell You A Little Something About Throwback Weekend
Darlington Raceway will celebrate NASCAR’s history for the second straight season with a “Throwback Weekend.” This year’s throwback platform will focus on the 1975-84 era of the sport. And it’s one of the most anticipated weekends of the season.
Initiatives of the celebration include, but are not limited to, drivers sporting retro paint schemes, Cale Yarborough acting as the honorary pace car driver, 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin serving as grand marshals and throwback food options.
On the broadcast front, Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett will call part of the race from the NBC booth.
A Lot Of Eyes On Edwards: Can Carl Command Darlington For Second Consecutive Season?
Rumor has it there’s a new commander at Darlington, but Carl Edwards might have something to say about that.
Edwards will attempt to win at Darlington for the second consecutive season.
Last year, he rallied from two laps down to take the lead following the last round of pit stops. He led the final eight laps to win the first Darlington race held on Labor Day weekend since 2003.
In 12 starts at The Lady in Black, Edwards owns one win, four top fives and eight top 10s.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver currently sits fourth on the Chase Grid on the strength of two wins, seven top fives and 15 top 10s. He leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a career-high five poles.
Parity At Darlington: Track Has Produced 10 Different Winners In Last 10 Races
Darlington has seen 10 different drivers in Victory Lane over its last 10 races: Greg Biffle (2006), Jeff Gordon (2007), Kyle Busch (2008), Mark Martin (2009), Denny Hamlin (2010), Regan Smith (2011), Jimmie Johnson (2012), Matt Kenseth (2013), Kevin Harvick (2014) and Carl Edwards (2015).
Elliott Scores Another Career-Best Finish At Michigan
Chase Elliott tied his career-best finish with a runner-up showing at Michigan last weekend. His previous high finish was also a runner-up result at Michigan in June.
Elliott’s effort snapped a streak of eight races without a finish better than 13th. His last finish better than 13th was also the runner-up result at Michigan.
The No. 24 Chevrolet driver will try to build more momentum in Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he finished 41st last year due to a wreck.
Elliott will try to duplicate his father NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott’s success at Darlington. The elder Elliott won at The Lady In Black five times. Arguably his most famous win came at Darlington in 1985 when he visited Victory Lane in the Southern 500 to capture the first Winston Million. After the triumph, he earned the moniker “Million Dollar Bill.”
Gibbs Brings ‘A Team’ To Darlington
All four of Joe Gibbs Racing’s drivers have won one race at Darlington. It is the only team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that can make the claim.
JGR has continued its success from the stretch run of last season. All four of its drivers – Kyle Busch (4 wins), Denny Hamlin (2), Carl Edwards (2) and Matt Kenseth (2) – have multiple wins this year. JGR is also the only four-car team to have all of its drivers in the Chase right now.
Hamlin Hopes To Match Career-Best Top-10 Streak At One Of Best Tracks
If Denny Hamlin finishes in the top 10 at Darlington, he’ll match the longest streak of top 10s in his career with seven. The No. 11 Toyota driver had seven straight top 10s during his rookie season in 2006 and again in 2009.
In 12 starts at the South Carolina oval, Hamlin owns one win, five top fives and eight top 10s. Among active drivers, he boasts the series-best average finish (6.5) and the second-best driver rating (107.8) and average running position (8.4).
Johnson More Than Comfortable At Darlington
Jimmie Johnson is arguably NASCAR’s top driver at Darlington.
He leads all full-time active drivers in wins (3), top fives (9) and top 10s (12) at the 1.366-mile track. His Darlington results are supplemented by strong loop data as well. He claims the fourth-best average running position (10.3) and driver rating (104.4) among active drivers there.
Johnson finished 19th at Darlington last season, snapping a string of three straight top-four finishes at the track dubbed “Too Tough To Tame.”
After struggling the majority of the summer, Johnson has finished seventh (Bristol) and sixth (Michigan) in his last two starts.
Blaney Posts Season-High Finish
Ryan Blaney registered his highest finish of the season with a fourth-place showing at Michigan.
Right now, the 22-year-old North Carolinian ranks 20th on the Chase Grid, 71 points behind Jamie McMurray for the final spot. To make NASCAR’s playoffs, he pretty much has to win at Darlington or Richmond.
Blaney made his lone start at Darlington last season and finished 30th.
The No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing driver ranks second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings – 41 points behind Chase Elliott.
On the season, Blaney has two top fives and seven top 10s.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
Ready. Set. Chase: Just Three Races Remain
It’s almost Chase time, and the pressure continues to mount for drivers who have not clinched a spot in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. Only three races remain in the regular season, including this weekend’s event at the historic Darlington Raceway, Saturday’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
A total of six drivers have clinched a spot in the Chase. Three Chase contenders have clinched by winning – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones has three wins (Bristol, Dover and Iowa), JR Motorsport’s driver Elliott Sadler has one win (Talladega) and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez also has one win (Michigan).
Three winless drivers have clinched their Chase position on points – JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier, currently third in points, and Richard Childress Racing teammates Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan who are currently fourth and fifth in the series standings, respectively. Each have accumulated enough points to make the Chase no matter what happens in the next three races.
That leaves positions seven through 12 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase up for grabs. This season the series has seen three first-time winners: Michael McDowell (Road America), Justin Marks (Mid-Ohio) and Daniel Suarez (Michigan). But in the 55 series races run at Darlington, only three drivers have posted their first series career win at the track “Too Tough To Tame” – Ron Bouchard (1984), Neil Bonnett (1983) and Geoff Bodine (1982).
Chase Bubble: Ryan Sieg Sits In Final Coveted Spot
With drivers in positions seventh through 12th in points not locked in to the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, the next three races are their final opportunities to perform well enough to secure their spots in the playoffs. While every position is feeling the pressure, Ryan Sieg in the 12th position, the final Chase spot, must be feeling like he is in the ‘hot seat’ with drivers Dakoda Armstrong (-15), Jeremy Clements (-33) and Ross Chastain (-34) just outside his rear fender.
Sieg drives for his family’s team, Ryan Sieg Racing, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Camaro. He is having one of the best seasons of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career, posting an average finish of 18.7; including one top five and two top 10s. Sieg has been inside the top 12 in points since Texas back in April.
JGL Racing’s Dakoda Armstrong took advantage of Ross Chastain’s misfortune of engine problems last weekend at Road America when he jumped from 14th to 13th in the standings. He is now just 15 points behind Sieg. Armstrong’s fifth top-15 finish of the season put him within striking distance of the Chase. Much like Sieg, Armstrong is having the best season of his career, posting an average finish of 19.3; including his series career-best finish of fifth at Iowa back in July.
Jeremy Clements and Ross Chastain both will need help from their competitors ahead of them in the standings to overcome the +30 points they are behind the Chase cutoff. But their deficit isn’t insurmountable. Clements has posted an average finish of 20.4 in 2016 and Chastain has an average finish of 20.3 this season.
All four drivers on the Chase bubble competed at Darlington, Richmond and Chicago last season and posted the following average finish during those three races – Ross Chastain (13.7), Ryan Sieg (17.3), Dakoda Armstrong (18.0) and Jeremy Clements (24.7).
South Carolina Charm Runs Deep In The Series
The NASCAR XFINITY Series has hosted 70 races among three tracks in the state of South Carolina – Darlington Raceway hosted 55 races (Darlington), Rambi Race Track hosted 13 (Myrtle Beach) and Greenville-Pickens Speedway had two (Greenville). The very first NASCAR XFINITY Series race held in the state of South Carolina was at Darlington Raceway on April 3, 1982, the fifth event in the series’ inaugural season. The race was won by Geoff Bodine in a Pontiac.
A total of 134 drivers who have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series event have their home state recorded as South Carolina. Of the 134 drivers from South Carolina, only 27 have made a start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series; led by Jason Keller (Greenville) with 520 starts – second-most all-time in the series.
Of the 27 drivers from South Carolina who competed in the series, only four won races – Larry Pearson (Spartanburg) had 15 wins, Jason Keller (Greenville) 10 wins, Butch Lindley (Greenville) six wins and David Pearson (Spartanburg) one win. Larry Pearson (Darlington 1995 and Myrtle Beach 1995) and Butch Lindley (Greenville-Pickens) are the only two drivers to win in their home state of South Carolina in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Additionally, Larry Pearson is the only South Carolina native to win a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. He boasts two series crowns (1987 and 1986).
Two drivers from South Carolina have competed this season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series – Jeremy Clements (Spartanburg) and Jordan Anderson (Forest Acres).
Owners’ Chase Is Taking Shape
With several teams in the NASCAR XFINITY Series running multiple drivers this season, the hunt for the owner’s title can look quite different than that of the series driver point standings most people are familiar with. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at the seven teams that have locked themselves in the owner NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase on wins.
The top seed will belong to the Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota Camry team led by crew chief Chris Gayle with nine wins this season. JGR has fielded eight drivers in the No. 18 this season – Kyle Busch, Matt Tifft, Denny Hamlin, Owen Kelly, Bobby Labonte, Dakoda Armstrong, David Ragan and Sam Hornish Jr.
The second seed will be held by Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chiefs Danny Stockman, Justin Alexander and Gil Martin with a combined total of three wins this season. RCR has fielded five drivers in the No. 2 this season – Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Michael McDowell, Ben Kennedy and Sam Hornish Jr.
The third seed will be Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry team with Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Jones and crew chief Christopher Gabehart. The tandem has posted three wins this season.
Seed number four is currently occupied by JR Motorsport’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chiefs David Elenz and Ryan Pemberton with two wins this season. JRM has fielded eight drivers in the No. 88 this season – Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kenny Habul, Josh Berry and Regan Smith.
The fifth seed belongs to Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chief Mike Shiplett with two wins in 2016. CGR has fielded two drivers this season in the No. 42 – Justin Marks and Kyle Larson.
The sixth seed will be JR Motorsports No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chief Kevin Meendering with driver Elliott Sadler. The pair has posted one win this season (Talladega).
In the seventh seed sits Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 Toyota Camry team led by crew chief Scott Graves with driver Daniel Suarez. Suarez got his first series win at Michigan earlier this season.
The remaining five winless teams currently seeded in the owner NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase following Road America are: 8.) No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion, 9.) No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, 10.) No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 11.) No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 12.) No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
Denny Hamlin Returns To Defend His Win At The Lady In Black
Joe Gibbs Racing has tapped Denny Hamlin to drive the No. 18 Toyota Camry this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Hamlin is the defending winner and he will be looking to win consecutive races at Darlington for the second time in his series career. He first accomplished the feat in 2006-2007.
Hamlin is one of eight drivers to win consecutive races at Darlington; the other seven are Ron Bouchard, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.
Hamlin has made eight series starts at Darlington, winning four races, all from the pole. He has been so good at Darlington his average finish for those eight starts is 2.9.
The No. 18 team is currently tied with the No. 20 JGR team of 2008 and the No. 18 JGR team of 2009 for the fourth most wins by a single team in a single season with nine victories. The series record is 13 wins by the No. 18 JGR team in 2010.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.:
2016 Season Quick Stats – The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season has seen 14 different winners, including three first-time winners (Michael McDowell, Justin Marks and Daniel Suarez). Kyle Busch leads the series in wins this season with seven. There have been 10 different Coors Light pole winners this season as well, led by Erik Jones with a series rookie record seven poles. …
Top Five Average Finish At Darlington – Among active drivers entered this weekend these are the top five in average finish: Denny Hamlin (2.9), Daniel Suarez (3.0), Kyle Larson (6.3), Justin Allgaier (9.8) and Ross Chastain (10.0). …
Double Dipping – Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick and last weekend’s Sprint Cup winner at Michigan Kyle Larson are all scheduled to compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race this Saturday. …
Milestones – Kevin Harvick will tie Randy LaJoie for 13th on the NASCAR XFINITY Series all-time starts list with 333 series starts. Harvick has the most series starts among active drivers. … Erik Jones will make his 50th NASCAR XFINITY Series career start this weekend at Darlington. … Denny Hamlin can tie Joe Nemechek and Jeff Green for 17th on the series all-time wins’ list if he wins this weekend for his 16th victory.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
Not Horsin’ Around: Brett Moffitt Wins First NASCAR National Series Race
Brett Moffitt passed his Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series leader William Byron on the final lap of Saturday’s Career for Veterans 200 to win his first career NASCAR national series race.
The lap led was the only one he’s registered in six career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts.
Moffitt has run well in four starts for Red Horse Racing in place of Matt Tifft, who is recovering from a brain tumor. The NASCAR Next alumnus claims finishes of 31st (Kentucky), third (Pocono), second (Bristol) and first (Michigan). He started second at Kentucky before engine trouble forced him out of the race.
The 23-year-old Iowa native led a Red Horse Racing sweep of the top-two spots. Peters placed second, 0.098 seconds behind Moffitt.
NASCAR Next Member Klutt Set For NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Debut
Young Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees is taking the MLB by storm after debuting last month. In NASCAR – another young Gary – Canadian Gary Klutt will try to establish himself when he makes his national series debut in Sunday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1) driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
A NASCAR Next member, Klutt races full-time in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. In nine starts this season, he claims five top-10 finishes with a high showing of sixth at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For his career, Klutt has made 26 NASCAR Pinty’s Series starts, registering one win (2015 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), one top five and 15 top 10s. He earned the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Rookie of the Year award last season after finishing fifth in points.
In six career NASCAR Pinty’s Series starts at CTMP, Klutt owns one win, one top five and four top 10s.
“It’s going to be a special moment to return to the place where I earned my first win last year in the Pinty’s Series, and I hope to make another trip to Victory Lane next weekend,” Klutt said.
When he’s not racing, Klutt co-hosts “Legendary Motorcar,” a reality show featuring his family business by the same name that restores and sells classic and high-performance cars.
Hayley Hopes To Make Chase With Win In Home Country
Quietly, Cameron Hayley has been one of the top performers in the NASCAR Camping Wolrd Truck Series over the last three months. In his past eight starts, Hayley has six top-seven finishes, including showings of second (Pocono) and third (Iowa).
Despite his strong recent performance, the NASCAR Next alumnus essentially needs to win to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. He is ninth on the Chase Grid, 47 points behind Timothy Peters for the final playoff spot.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Hayley heads back to his home country for Saturday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. In two series starts at the road course, he has posted finishes of 11th and seventh.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Standouts Haley And Cindric Ready To Compete In Canada
Two of the interesting non-regulars on the entry list for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 are Justin Haley and Austin Cindric.
Haley, a native of Winamac Indiana, is close to running away with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship. He leads the standings by 36 points over second-place Kyle Benjamin on the strength of his two wins, 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 11 starts. Haley’s lowest finish in the K&N Pro Series East was a ninth-place showing in his second start of the season. The 17-year-old has made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season, finishing 26th (Martinsville) and 21st (Gateway).
Cindric has competed in one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this season, finishing 18th at Bristol. He has made two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts this season – at road courses Virginia International Raceway and Watkins Glen. Cindric won both events from the pole. Coincidentally, Haley started second and finished second to Cindric in both the road-course races.
Many Returners Performed Well At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Last Year
Eight drivers on the entry list for Sunday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park finished in the top 10 at the event last season – Matt Crafton (second), Ben Kennedy (third), Daniel Hemric (fourth), Johnny Sauter (sixth), Cameron Hayley (seventh), Spencer Gallagher (eighth), John Hunter Nemechek (ninth) and Cole Custer (10th).
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR