DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR rolls into the oldest and toughest race track, Darlington Raceway, for their annual “throwback” weekend.
Teams, drivers and sponsors embrace the weekend and roll out cars with special paint schemes that pay tribute to NASCAR’s past and heritage.
The fight for the NASCAR playoffs is down to two races. Four drivers are fighting for the final two playoff positions.
Stewart Haas Racing’s (SHR) Daniel Suarez sits in the 16th and final playoff position after an 8th place finish in the series last race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Suarez’ SHR teammate Clint Bowyer is in 17th position, two points behind Suarez. Bowyer has only one top-10 finish in 13-starts at the track. He finished 36th last year and 40th the year before.
“We know how important these next two races are,” said Bowyer. “Everyone in the sport knows and everyone will be watching. We know if we run like we are capable of running we will be fine. Now we just have to go out and do it this weekend at Darlington and next weekend at Indianapolis.”
Seven-time Champion Jimmie Johnson, of Hendrick Motorsports, sits 26-points behind Suarez. Johnson has 3-wins at the track “Too Tough To Tame”, sweeping both races in 2004 and picking up another win 2011.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman currently sits 15th in the playoff standings, only 14-points ahead of 17th place Bowyer. Newman has not won at Darlington but has 13 top-10 finishes and seven top-5 finishes in 20-starts.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr lead the championship field with four wins each.
Hamlin comes into the race with momentum after winning at Bristol. The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota has 2-victories, 11 top-10 finishes in 13-starts at the track. Hamlin’s average finish of 6.154 is best among active drivers.
“This FedEx team is on such a roll right now,” said Hamlin. “We show up fast to the race track each and every weekend and I’m proud of what our entire team has been able to accomplish these past few weeks.”
Busch sits atop the series championship standings with a 39-point lead over 2nd place Joey Logano of Team Penske. Busch has some momentum too, five top-10’s in his last 6-races. Busch also has a series-best 20 top-10’s. Busch has one victory at Darlington (2011) and has finished 11th or better in the last 9-races at Darlington.
The Bojangles Southern 500 takes place Sunday, September 1st at 6 p.m. ET. Television coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and can be heard on Motor Racing Network (MRN) affiliates and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.