NASCAR Cup Series: Darlington Predictions and How To Watch

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington for a fun throwback weekend. Let’s see who can harness some nostalgic energy for a win on Sunday.

Well, we’ve nearly made it to the halfway mark of the regular season. This weekend the NASCAR Cup Series races into Darlington for a throwback weekend, marking the 13th race of the 26-race regular season. Though it will feel laid back and fun for everyone this weekend, the drivers will still be laser-focused on performing on the tough track and grabbing a win before the true respite next weekend at the All-Star Race in North Wilkesboro.

Last time out, we saw Denny Hamlin grab his first win of the year at Kansas. Hamlin battled Kyle Larson in the final laps and nudged Larson into the wall on the final lap to take the checkered flag. It marked back-to-back wins for Joe Gibbs Racing as the team looks to continue their run this weekend on a track where Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. have a combined six career wins.

As we approach the midpoint of the regular season, though, there are still some big names hunting for that first win. Points leader Ross Chastain leads that group, while Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, and Brad Keselowski are among drivers in the Top 10 in the standings who have yet to ride to victory lane.

Whether we get a repeat winner or a first-timer in 2023, one thing that is for sure is that it’ll be done in style. This weekend you’ll see throwback paint schemes on the cars, many evoking positive memories of past eras, like Chase Elliott‘s tribute to his dad Bill that you can see below.

The Track

Darlington Raceway is a 1.36-mile egg-shaped oval in Darlington, South Carolina. The track stands out from others of similar length due to its unique shape and steep banking that leads to tricky, but fast racing. It has been on the NASCAR schedule since 1950. From 1960 to 2004, it held two races per year, and though it was down to just one for several years it regained that second race in 2020.

The track has earned many nicknames over the years as its tough style and penchant for classic races have made it a fan favorite. “The Lady in Black” or “The Track Too Tough to Tame” are the two most popular, and when you hear those names you know it’s going to be a competitive weekend. David Pearson was one of the few able to tame the track and did so 10 times, which remains the record today. Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers with four wins. Joey Logano took last year’s spring race while Erik Jones rode to victory lane in the fall.

This weekend may be another impacted by weather, as the forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain on both Sunday and Monday. Let’s hope the clouds stay so we can get some fun racing in at a great track.

Darlington Raceway - RacingCircuits.info

Points Standings

This is the last race until the All-Star Race in North Wilkesboro so let’s check out the top 10 as we near the halfway point of the regular season.

  1. Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing – 404 points
  2. Christopher Bell*, Joe Gibbs Racing – 373 points
  3. Martin Truex Jr.*, Joe Gibbs Racing – 368 points
  4. Denny Hamlin*, Joe Gibbs Racing – 368 points
  5. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing – 358 points
  6. Tyler Reddick*, 23XI Racing – 354 points
  7. Ryan Blaney, Team Penske – 350 points
  8. Kyle Larson*, Hendrick Motorsports – 338 points
  9. William Byron*, Hendrick Motorsports – 331 points
  10. Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing – 321 points

*= 2023 race winner

Predictions

It’s been nearly one month since Kyle Larson’s last win, which must feel like an eternity for someone who runs at the front as consistently as him. He’s never won at Darlington, having been the runner-up on three occasions, but I think this week the stars align for Larson to pick up his third win of the season.

  1. Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
  2. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
  3. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
  4. Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing
  5. Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing

How To Watch – NASCAR at Darlington (All times ET)

  • Practice: Saturday, May 13 – 10:35 a.m. – FS2 (Coverage moves to FS1 at 11:00 a.m.)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, May 13 – 11:20 a.m. – FS1
  • ¬†Goodyear 400: Sunday, May 14 – 3:00 p.m. – FS1 (Green flag at 3:15 p.m.)
Featured Image Credit: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images