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Darlington 400 Race Preview

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sean McKean

After a historic end in Kansas City, where we saw Kyle Larson win the race by a tiny margin of 0.001 seconds, the field will be heading to Darlington, South Carolina, for the thirteenth and final race before the All- Star weekend in North Wilkesboro in North Carolina.

Can any of the mid-tier teams capitalise on the opportunity to carry some momentum heading into the Aall- Sstar weekend, or would it be yet another race dominated by the big teams?

Track Preview

The Darlington Raceway was built in 1950, one of the oldest tracks on the calendar. It is located in Darlington, South Carolina. It is also infamous for its interesting shape, with a longer degree in turns one and two compared to turns three and four. The track has a length of 1.366 miles (2.198 kilometres), with a banking of 25 degrees on turns one and two, and a banking of 23 degrees in turns three and four. 

The track has hosted at least a race every season, and has been hosting two races ever since 2020, one for the regular season and one for the playoffs. The drivers will be driving 293 laps around the track, with 90 laps in the first stage, 95 laps in the second stage, and 108 laps for the final stage, totalling a distance of 400.24 miles (644.12 kilometres).

The weather report indicates that there will be no rain for the weekend, with temperatures between 17 to 24 degrees Celsius. The race will commence on May 12th, Sunday, at 15:00 ET (12:00 PT, 21:00 CET).

A Reason to Win For Each Team

The Chevrolets started off the month of May with a bang, as a last ditch effort by Kyle Larson earned him his second win of the season, returning to the win column after his first in early March at Las Vegas. Chase Elliott also secured yet another top five finish, continuing the string of great performances since late March. Heading into the bye week, they certainly hope to continue this great streak. 

The Toyotas and Joe Gibbs Racing have been one of the best teams this season, with three wins for Denny Hamlin and another one for Christopher Bell. Hamlin has emerged as one of the most dangerous drivers this season, securing multiple stage wins and race wins, racking up 18 playoff points so far. Going into Darlington, a track where he’s won four times, he will be looking for another good performance to back up a top five finish in Kansas.

Even with the problematic situations, the Fords are a force to be reckoned with. Even with the concerning performances so far into the season, they have shown that they have the ability to compete in intermediate tracks. What better time than now to secure a win and a playoff spot for one of the Ford drivers. This will give them great momentum and a morale boost heading into the All-Star weekend.


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