GFT Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
9 min readMay 11, 2024

10 May 2024
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

DARLINGTON, SC — NASCAR is ‘Throwing It Back’ at Darlington Raceway! NASCAR legends of today and yesteryear will come together this weekend to pay homage to the sport’s past for the 13th race of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, the Goodyear 400 (Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Many of the drivers and teams will be paying tribute to the past this weekend with special paint schemes on their cars. For a full detailed list of the paint schemes and cars/trucks participating, select this link and visit NASCAR.com’s 2024 Throwback Weekend Gallery.

NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway
The Date: Sunday, May 12
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Purse: $8,090,969
TV: FS1, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.2 miles (293 laps)
Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 90)
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185)
Final Stage (Ends on Lap 293)

Track Facts
Track Length: 1.366 Miles
Race Lengths: 500 Miles (367 laps)
Grandstand Seating Capacity: 50,000
First Race: Sept. 4, 1950 — Southern 500

Degree of Banking in Corners:
25 degrees — Turns 1 & 2; 23 degrees — Turns 3 & 4
Banking on Straights: 6 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,229 feet
Backstretch: 1,229 feet

Qualifying & Race Records
Qualifying: Aric Almirola, Ford, 184.145 mph (26.705 secs.); April 11, 2014 (Round 2 of 3)
Race: Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 141.383 mph (3:32:45); May 11, 2013

Track Records
Most Wins: 10 — David Pearson
Most Poles: 12 — David Pearson

Dancing with the ‘Lady In Black’

Almost every driver who has ever competed in NASCAR will tell you that Darlington Raceway is one of the most challenging tracks to master, and because of that challenge, it is one of the competitor’s favorites on the schedule.

Over the years Darlington has produced 54 different Cup winners. This weekend, eight of the 54 former winners are entered in Sunday’s Goodyear 400, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin with four victories (2010, 2017, 2020, 2021).

This weekend’s Goodyear 400 will be 293 laps (400.2 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 90 laps, the second stage will be 95 laps and the final stage will be 108 laps.

On-track activity for the NASCAR Cup Series is set to start with practice and Busch Light Pole qualifying, and both events will be televised on FS1 starting at 10:30 a.m. ET on May 11.

Loop Data Lowdown: Stats point to Hamlin as the driver to beat at Darlington

Among active drivers this weekend, one driver has risen above the rest statistically at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series — Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

The 43-year old, Hamlin, has made 23 starts at Darlington Raceway and leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in the following stats at the 1.366-mile track:

  • Wins: 4 (2010, 2017, 2020, 2021)
  • Runner-Ups: 4 (2007, 2012, 2013, 2022)
  • Top Fives: 12
  • Top 10s: 16
  • Driver Rating: 107.2
  • Average Starting Position: 8.826
  • Average Running Position: 7.778
  • Average Finishing Position: 8.435
  • Laps Led: 978
  • Laps in the Top 15: 7,043 Laps, 88.0%

Approaching regular season midway point, nine Playoff spots still available

As the NASCAR Cup Series approaches its midway point of the regular season with race №13 on 2024 schedule, the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) it’s no surprise the season is off to a hot start competitively. As the series heads to Darlington Raceway this weekend, seven drivers — Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez — have earned their spots in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs by virtue of their wins this year, leaving nine postseason positions still available.

Currently, of the drivers trying to earn a spot on points, Martin Truex Jr. has the largest point cushion above the cutoff with +155 points. But at the other end Playoff outlook in the hot seat is RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski, who is grasping ahold of his 16th and final Playoff spot by a mere four points over 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace in 17th, and 18 points over two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano in 18th.

Five former Darlington winners without victories this season

A total of eight former NASCAR Cup Series Darlington Raceway winners are active this weekend in the Goodyear 400 (May 12 at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and five of them are still looking for their first win of the 2024 season.

Returning after two weeks off due to injury is Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones, who won at Darlington Raceway in 2019 and in 2022. Jones is currently wrestling a winless streak that dates back to his win at Darlington on September 4, 2022–57 races ago. The Byron, Michigan native has made 12 starts at the ‘Lady In Black’ posting two wins (2019, 2022), five top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish at 1.366-mile track is 11.8 (fifth-best among active drivers).

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Marttin Truex Jr. also has multiple Cup Series wins at Darlington Raceway (2016, 2021). Currently, Truex is managing a winless streak that dates back to July 17, 2023 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway — 28 races ago. At Darlington, Truex has made 23 career series starts putting up one pole, two wins (2016, 2021), four top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.366-mile track is 13.4 (eighth-best among active drivers).

RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski captured his victory at Darlington Raceway in 2018, but don’t count him out this weekend. Keselowski is straddling a winless streak that dates back to April 25, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway — 110 races ago. Keselowski has made 20 series starts at Darlington putting up one pole, one win (2018), six top fives and 11 top 10s. His average finish is 11.4 (fourth-best among active drivers).

Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch secured his NASCAR Cup Series Darlington victory in 2008, then driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Now, the two-time Cup Series champion returns to Darlington on a winless streak that dates back to June 4, 2023 at World Wide Technology Raceway — 33 races ago. Busch is also looking to extend his series record of 19 straight season with a victory to 20. Busch has made 24 series starts at Darlington posting one win (2008), six top fives and 14 top 10s. His average finish at Darlington is 13.3 (seventh-best among active drivers).

Team Penske’s Joey Logano earned his lone victory at Darlington Raceway in 2022 from the pole position. This season, Logano finds himself below the Playoff cutline (18th) looking for his first win of the year. Logano is riding a winless streak that dates back to March 19, 2023 at Atlanta Motor Speedway — 43 races ago. Logano has made 20 series starts at Darlington putting up one pole, one win (2022), six top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish is 13.2 (sixth-best among active drivers).

DARLINGTON-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

(Driver stats below are during the Loop Data Era: 2005 to Present)

Christopher Bell (№20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

· One top five, two top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 16.778, 11th-best

· Average Running Position of 13.981, 12th-best

· Driver Rating of 80.0, 12th-best

· 1,664 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4%), 12th-most

Ryan Blaney (№12 Team Penske Ford)

· Three top 10s

· Average Finish of 17.214, 13th-best

· Average Running Position of 16.448, 13th-best

· Driver Rating of 79.2, 13th-best

· 2,238 Laps in the Top 15 (47.8%), 13th-most

Kyle Busch (№8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)

· One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s

· Average Finish of 13.333, seventh-best

· Average Running Position of 10.157, third-best

· Driver Rating of 100.2, fourth-best

· 6,792 Laps in the Top 15 (81.2%), second-most

William Byron (№24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

· One win, four top fives, five top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 15.636, 10th-best

· Average Running Position of 11.467, seventh-best

· Driver Rating of 93.6, sixth-best

· 2,714 Laps in the Top 15 (75.7%), fifth-most

Chase Elliott (№9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

· Four top fives, seven top 10s

· Average Finish of 17.000, 12th-best

· Average Running Position of 13.142, 10th-best

· Driver Rating of 85.5, 11th-best

· 3,394 Laps in the Top 15 (72.4%), ninth-most

Denny Hamlin (№11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

· Four wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 8.435, series-best

· Average Running Position of 7.778, series-best

· Driver Rating of 107.2, series-best

· 7,043 Laps in the Top 15 (88.0%), series-most

Erik Jones (№43 Legacy Motor Club Toyota)

· Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s

· Average Finish of 11.833, fifth-best

· Average Running Position of 12.114, eighth-best

· Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best

· 2,950 Laps in the Top 15 (74.7%), seventh-most

Brad Keselowski (№6 RFK Racing Ford)

· One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 11.400, fourth-best

· Average Running Position of 12.642, ninth-best

· Driver Rating of 92.0, eighth-best

· 4,567 Laps in the Top 15 (66.2%), 11th-most

Kyle Larson (№5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

· One win, six top fives, eight top 10s

· Average Finish of 9.417, second-best

· Average Running Position of 9.706, second-best

· Driver Rating of 106.7, second-best

· 3,373 Laps in the Top 15 (80.5%), third-most

Joey Logano (№22 Team Penske Ford)

· One win, six top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles

· Average Finish of 13.200, sixth-best

· Average Running Position of 11.398, sixth-best

· Driver Rating of 93.4, seventh-best

· 5,174 Laps in the Top 15 (75.0%), sixth-most

Tyler Reddick (№45 23XI Racing Toyota)

· Three top fives, four top 10s

· Average Finish of 11.333, third-best

· Average Running Position of 11.133, fifth-best

· Driver Rating of 90.8, ninth-best

· 2,208 Laps in the Top 15 (77.5%), fourth-most

Martin Truex Jr. (№19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

· Two wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 13.435, eighth-best

· Average Running Position of 10.230, fourth-best

· Driver Rating of 101.9, third-best

· 5,868 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), eighth-most

Go Full Throttle NASCAR AI Driver Rankings following the Advent Health 400 on May 5, 2024 at Kansas Speedway

Go Full Throttle NASCAR AI Driver Rankings following the Advent Health 400 on May 5, 2024 at Kansas Speedway (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

GFT AI NASCAR FANTASY LIVE RACE PREDICTION MODELS

The Go Full Throttle #AI Race Prediction model delivered another 204 points with the Kansas results in NASCAR Fantasy Live — TMD NASCAR League play. GFT AI 1 is now in 408th place vs 4,601 players in the #TMDNASCAR league. Back inside the Top 10 at 8.86% vs all players.

GFT Race Prediction Model **INITIAL** Picks for NASCAR Fantasy LIVE — Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway

**NOTE** Be sure to follow us on X (aka Twitter) to see the updated GFT NASCAR Fantasy Live picks AFTER our AI models ingest the Practice and Qualifying data. For a Sunday race, this usually happens overnight Saturday and is published Sunday morning at least 2 hours before the green flag.

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association