RELATED: Full practice results Piloting his No. 2 Team Penske Ford at 175.880 mph, Brad Keselowski slid into the top position on the leaderboard with less than 10 minutes remaining Friday's final practice session at Darlington Raceway . Opening practice leader Greg Biffle found speed in the final minutes of Friday's final practice, propelling his No. 16 Ford around the South Carolina speedway at 175.729 mph for the second position. Like many of the other drivers in the field, third-fastest Kurt Busch -- who was second on the leaderboard in the opening session -- used the final minutes of the 115-minute practice to make a mock qualifying run in his No. 41 Chevrolet (175.723 mph). A late run also benefited Paul Menard , who inherited the fourth position on the leaderboard with the help of a fast lap of 175.484 mph from his No. 27 Richard Childress Racing car. His teammate Austin Dillon rounded out the top five, getting a top speed of 175.453 mph out of his No. 3 ride. Denny Hamlin remained atop the leaderboard for the majority of the final session. However, when drivers switched to qualifying trim in the final laps, he ended up 14th by the time the red flag waved to the signal the end of practice. "The Track Too Tough to Tame" lived up to its name in the final minutes for reigning race winner Kevin Harvick , who smacked the wall off Turn 2 late in the session in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Harvick ranked 21st on the leaderboard. After making contact with the wall midway through the second practice session, Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team deferred to a back-up car. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota came up 35th on the leaderboard after the 115-minute session. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set for Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN. RELATED: Full practice results Greg Biffle topped the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Darlington Raceway for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Biffle paced the 115-minute practice with a fast lap of 176.201 mph at the 1.366-mile track in South Carolina. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has two wins in 14 starts at the "Lady in Black" and is currently on the outside of the Chase Grid with two races left in the regular season. Stewart-Haas Racing dominated the leaderboard behind Biffle with Kurt Busch (175.842 mph), Tony Stewart (175.710 mph) and Kevin Harvick (175.654 mph) coming in second through fourth in the session. Harvick is the defending race winner at Darlington. Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards (175.647 mph) rounded out the top five. Friday's practice sessions provided the drivers with significant time with the low downforce package. This is the second race of the season to use that particular rules package as it was also used at Kentucky in July. Austin Dillon "earned" a Darlington stripe early in opening practice when he hit the wall off of Turn 2 and had significant damage to the right side of his No. 3 Chevrolet. The team worked to fix the damage on his car instead of bringing out the backup and got him back out on track toward the end of the session. Brett Moffitt also got a Darlington stripe early in the practice session. Chase Elliott , who will be attempting to make his fifth Sprint Cup start of the season, brushed the wall about a half hour into practice. Trevor Bayne also got into the wall during the practice session. RELATED: See Darlington's greatest hits
RELATED: Answers on multiple packages " Darlington's throwback gallery Perhaps somewhat overshadowed by all the talk about Darlington Raceway 's "throwback" platform this weekend is the return of NASCAR's low downforce package, incorporating aerodynamic changes first unveiled at Kentucky Speedway earlier this year. Three significant changes have been incorporated into the Sprint Cup Series package for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) that differs from the package used in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky in July. The Darlington spoiler will be 3-1/2 inches (instead of 3 inches) and the splitter will feature a 1/4-inch leading edge. Also, the tires to be used at Darlington were built specifically for this particular low downforce package. The build was determined after a one-day test in July with drivers Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ). There is no change in the size of the splitter extension panel, which was set at 25 inches for the Kentucky event. Driver feedback, for the most part, was positive following Kentucky. But Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for Kenseth, noted that differences in the two tracks and other considerations would have an impact this weekend at Darlington. "It's going to be a lot different … because we haven't run at Darlington at this time of year in a while," he said. "… Darlington is unique anyway -- you run right around the fence, which makes it difficult to pass, but I thought the aero package was good and we were able to work on the car and find some speed and nothing negative with it." Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards said he's looking forward to putting the low downforce package back on the track. "The way we've been running lately and the way this package drove at Kentucky, I mean to me Darlington is going to be like Christmas in September. I'm pumped," he said. So About Those Tires The tire combination selected by Goodyear will feature the same left-side tire code used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year with a right-side tire code that was run at Kentucky. "We had a very minimal change in grip at Kentucky from what we raced there in 2014," Greg Stucker, Director of Race Tire Sales for Goodyear, told SiriusXM NASCAR on Wednesday. "Just a little bit more grip on the left-side tire, and the results of that particular event I think were very, very positive. "I think the low-downforce package showed a lot of potential. I think a lot of people walked out of there thinking that was a really nice package. It certainly reduced grip, put a lot of control back into the drivers' hands. Did a lot of things that I think people were looking for." Stucker said a "considerable amount of grip" has been added to the Darlington tires, with hopefully will offset some of the aerodynamic grip lost with the aero changes on the cars. "The reduction in downforce going from the standard 2015 (package) to the low-downforce package increased lap times by about three-quarters of a second, 7/10ths to 8/10ths, something like that," he said. "That much slower. When we put the grippier setup on, it gave us about that same 7/10ths to 8/10ths back." A December test at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2014 actually provided some of the initial data for the low downforce tire build. "We went back there again in March of this year to confirm that tire package for a low-downforce setup that at the time was thought to be run in the (Sprint) All-Star Race," Stucker said. "So we had a lot of work done in a similar configuration. Historically Darlington and Charlotte are similar. We run the same right-side tire there, slightly different left. But it gave us a real good starting point for where to go back to Darlington so we did that." Riding a Blue Streak The teams and track officials aren't the only ones on board with this year's "throwback" theme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Even Goodyear is going retro, returning to a logo design used in the 1970s. At that time, the logos and markings on each tire were hand-painted -- that won't be the case this weekend -- "but they'll definitely have the looks of what we ran back in the '70s," Stucker said. "We had not yet gone to Eagle on our race tires. They were still called Blue Streak Specials." The yellow Goodyear lettering seen on today's Goodyear Eagle tires came into use in 1992.
RELATED: Full practice results Carl Edwards rose to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard in Friday's opening practice at Michigan International Speedway. Edwards drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota to a fast lap of 196.046 mph on the 2-mile track. He set the time with a mock qualifying run in the last half-hour of practice. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick was second-fastest with a 194.858 mph lap in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Austin Dillon , Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin completed the top five in preparation for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). The 2-hour, 25-minute practice session marked the Michigan debut for the high-drag aerodynamic package, which was used last month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The rules package, which features an extended rear spoiler among other aerodynamic tweaks, did not receive much of a trial run for race conditions as teams focused on single-car laps. Aric Almirola sat out the bulk of Friday's opening practice, battling what his Richard Petty Motorsports team hoped was a 24-hour virus. Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton filled in for the early portions of the practice in the RPM No. 43 Ford. The car wound up 29th-fastest on the leaderboard. RELATED: Sick Almirola will miss portions of practice Defending race winner Jeff Gordon , scheduled to make his last Michigan start Sunday, was 15th-fastest in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Kurt Busch , the most recent Michigan winner in June, was 12th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. Busch also had the best 10-lap average, running 188.212 mph on his 21st to 30th laps in the session. Joey Logano , last week's winner at Watkins Glen International, was 11th-fastest in the Team Penske No. 22, the fastest Ford on the leaderboard. The 44 cars that hit the track in the opening session participated with commemorative decals to honor NASCAR legend Buddy Baker, who died Monday at 74.
With the low downforce package being used this weekend for the second time in 2015, get caught up on both of NASCAR's new rules initiatives of 2015. Low downforce package In use: Kentucky Speedway ( Kyle Busch victory); Darlington Raceway (Sunday) Changes: Reduction in spoiler height (from 6 inches to 3.5 inches); splitter extension panel (radiator pan) decreased from 38 inches to 25 inches; splitter has 1¾ inches less overhang; and Goodyear has prepared a package-specific tire for Darlington. Intent: Less downforce on an intermediate tracks such as Kentucky, which would lead to more side-by-side racing; increase off-throttle time in the turns, leading to more potential passing; lessen leader's aero advantage. Key quote: "Sold. Keep doing it. Ship it." -- Carl Edwards More: Drivers sold on low downforce • O'Donnell lauds hard work to get package ready • Who benefited most at Kentucky? High drag package In use: Indianapolis Motor Speedway ( Kyle Busch victory); Michigan International Speedway ( Matt Kenseth victory) Changes: Increase in spoiler height (from 6 inches to 9 inches) and addition of 1-inch wicker bill; a rear fascia extension panel similar to that currently used for superspeedway events; a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter; and a 43-inch splitter extension panel. Intent: High drag on big, wide tracks at 2.5-mile Indianapolis and 2-mile Michigan should lead to more pack racing and drafting; aero impact lessened on trailing car, promoting more passing and side-by-side racing throughout the field; speeds were initially projected to slow by 10 mph. Key quote: "Everybody agrees that close, competitive racing, being able to pass -- that's important for us to continue to deliver on." -- NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton More: Drivers react after Kenseth victory • Tweak set for Michigan • Cars get hotter, drivers affected • Helton addresses high drag package, concerns
RELATED: Updated standings " Chase grid Only two races remain before the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. Here are the scenarios for clinching a Chase berth at Darlington Raceway : Below is the complete list of drivers currently in the Chase Grid. Drivers with wins who have clinched a spot in the Chase as long as they attempt to qualify for the remaining two races: 1. Jimmie Johnson 3. Joey Logano 4. Matt Kenseth 5. Kevin Harvick 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr . 7. Kurt Busch 8. Brad Keselowski 9. Martin Truex Jr . 10. Denny Hamlin 11. Carl Edwards Note: Kyle Busch is currently second in the Chase Grid, but has not clinched a spot in the top 30 of the points standings. Drivers currently in the top 16: 12. Jamie McMurray 13. Ryan Newman 14. Paul Menard 15. Jeff Gordon 16. Clint Bowyer At Darlington, a winless driver can clinch a spot in the Chase. If a repeat driver wins at Darlington, a winless driver would need to have a 45 point lead on the fifth-highest of the winless drivers (or 44 points, depending on tie-breakers). If there is a new winner, a winless driver would need to lead the fourth-highest winless driver by 45 points (or, again, 44, depending on tie-breakers)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 31, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina going into the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on September 6 (7 p.m. ET on NBC). DARLINGTON-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.800, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 10.597, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 105.7, fifth-best · 296 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.175, fifth-fastest · 2642 Laps in the Top 15 (71.7), seventh-most · 326 Quality Passes, second-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota) · One win, two top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 13.600, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 8.995, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.1, fourth-best · 236 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.348, third-fastest · 3134 Laps in the Top 15 (85.1), third-most · 374 Quality Passes, series-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet) · Four top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 11.200, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 11.404, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 94.3, eighth-best · 110 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.954, ninth-fastest · 2650 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9), sixth-most · 312 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Three top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 13.100, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.732, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 91.0, 12th-best · 151 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.807, 12th-fastest · 2262 Laps in the Top 15 (61.4), 12th-most · 287 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Seven wins, 19 top fives, 23 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 7.400, second-best · Average Running Position of 7.629, series-best · Driver Rating of 112.7, series-best · 262 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.593, series-fastest · 3356 Laps in the Top 15 (91.1), series-most · 314 Quality Passes, third-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 6.889, series-best · Average Running Position of 8.644, second-best · Driver Rating of 107.1, second-best · 186 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.315, fourth-fastest · 2849 Laps in the Top 15 (86.0), second-most · 303 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.300, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 14.772, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 93.1, 10th-best · 167 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.885, 10th-fastest · 2531 Laps in the Top 15 (68.7), ninth-most · 267 Quality Passes, 10th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 8.800, third-best · Average Running Position of 9.992, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 106.8, third-best · 256 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.443, second-fastest · 2789 Laps in the Top 15 (75.7), fourth-most · 291 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 HendrickRideAlong.com Chevrolet) · Three top fives, four top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 17.500, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 10.665, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.9, sixth-best · 230 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.069, seventh-fastest · 2597 Laps in the Top 15 (70.5), eighth-most · 233 Quality Passes, 13th-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · One win, three top fives, ten top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 10.100, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 13.487, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.2, ninth-best · 123 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.814, 11th-fastest · 2382 Laps in the Top 15 (64.7), 11th-most · 264 Quality Passes, 11th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.300, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 11.409, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 95.8, seventh-best · 64 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.086, sixth-fastest · 2778 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4), fifth-most · 259 Quality Passes, 12th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Four top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 10.900, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 14.805, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 13th-best · 105 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.791, 13th-fastest · 2153 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4), 13th-most · 311 Quality Passes, fifth-most Martin Truex Jr (No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 13.111, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.116, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, 11th-best · 127 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.992, eighth-fastest · 2153 Laps in the Top 15 (65.0), 10th-most · 278 Quality Passes, ninth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at D arlington Raceway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 18 1 1 4 7 1 17 93.1 2 Joey Logano 6 0 0 0 2 1 23 77.9 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 20 0 0 4 9 1 14.3 94.3 4 Brad Keselowski 6 0 0 1 2 0 14.3 84.7 5 Jimmie Johnson 16 0 3 9 12 1 8.4 106.8 6 Martin Truex Jr 9 0 0 1 3 0 13.1 92.1 7 Matt Kenseth 21 1 1 3 10 1 16 93.2 8 Kurt Busch 18 2 0 2 5 1 17.9 81.6 9 Denny Hamlin 9 0 1 4 7 0 6.9 107.1 10 Jamie McMurray 14 1 0 3 5 1 16.1 82.6 * – Based on last 10 races at Darlington Raceway (2005 – 2014). Darlington Three Year Average Finishes Of Drivers Currently 17th – 30th In The Standings Points Pos. Driver 3 Yr. Average Finish (2012 - 2014) 17 Aric Almirola 21.0 18 Kasey Kahne 20.7 19 Greg Biffle 10.0 20 Austin Dillon 11.0 21 Kyle Larson 8.0 22 Danica Patrick 27.0 23 Casey Mears 25.7 24 AJ Allmendinger 24.0 25 David Ragan 33.0 26 Sam Hornish Jr . * 0.0 27 Tony Stewart 9.0 28 Trevor Bayne * 0.0 29 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 19.0 30 Justin Allgaier 23.0 * Sam Hornish Jr . and Trevor Bayne have not made starts in the last three seasons at Darlington in the NSCS. Statistical Advance At Darlington Raceway : History · Darlington Raceway was built as a 1.25-mile paved superspeedway in 1949-1950. · Darlington Raceway hosted the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history and the first on asphalt on Sept. 4, 1950 – 75 cars competed in the event - Curtis Turner won the pole at 82.034 mph, and the race was won by Johnny Mantz (Plymouth, 75.250 mph, 6:38:40) . · The track was re-measured to 1.375 miles in 1953. · The track was re-configured to 1.366 miles following the spring race in 1970. · The track was repaved in 1995. · The 2005 race was the first Saturday night race at Darlington. · The track was repaved again prior to the 2008 season. Starts · There have been 111 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway . The 1.366-mile track has hosted the fifth most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying races. · 709 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway ; 428 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Darlington with 65. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34 starts; followed by Tony Stewart with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Darlington with a 6.824. · Jeff Gordon (6.8), Ryan Newman (8.6) and Kasey Kahne (9.1) are the only active three drivers with an average starting position in the top 10. · 125 different drivers have made NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career debut at Darlington Raceway . Poles · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light Pole Award at Darlington in 1950 in an Oldsmobile with a speed of 82.034 mph. · 48 drivers have Coors Light poles at Darlington, led by David Pearson with 12. Kasey Kahne leads all active drivers with four. · Nine drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Darlington. Kasey Kahne is the only active driver with consecutive Coors Light poles (2005-2006). · David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Darlington with five (1975 - 1977). · Youngest Darlington pole winner: Kurt Busch (09/02/2001 – 23 years, 0 months, 29 days). · Oldest Darlington pole winner: David Pearson (09/06/1982 – 47 years, 8 months, 15 days). · Eight drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole at Darlington Raceway : Cotton Owens (1957), Fred Lorenzen (1961), Bill Elliott (1981), Ken Schrader (1987), John Andretti (1995), Kurt Busch (2001), Elliott Sadler (2003) and Clint Bowyer (2007). Wins · 47 different drivers have won at Darlington Raceway , led by David Pearson with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven wins; followed by his HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson with three. · Six drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Darlington Raceway : Johnny Mantz (1950), Nelson Stacy (1961), Larry Frank (1962), Terry Labonte (1980), Lake Speed (1988) and Regan Smith (2011). · Youngest Darlington winner: Kyle Busch (05/10/2008 – 23 years, 0 months, 8 days). · Oldest Darlington winner: Harry Gant (09/01/1991 – 51 years, 7 months, 22 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Darlington in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 14. Manufacturer Wins Chevrolet 41 Ford 28 Mercury 10 Oldsmobile 6 Dodge 5 Pontiac 5 Buick 4 Plymouth 4 Hudson 3 Toyota 3 American Motors Company 2 · 11 different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Darlington; led by Chevrolet with 41 victories; followed by Ford with 28 and Toyota has three. · 20 of the 111 (18.02%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kevin Harvick in last season’s event. · NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson has won from the pole four times at Darlington – the series’ most. · The Coors Light pole starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Darlington. The outside front row (second-place) has produced the second-most wins (17). Wins · 37 of the 111 (33.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from the front row: 20 from first-place and 17 from second-place. · 96 of the 111 (86.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Darlington have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Six of the 111 (5.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Darlington is 43rd by Johnny Mantz in 1950 – the inaugural NSCS event. · 13 drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Darlington; Dale Earnhardt (1989-1990) and Jeff Gordon (1995-1996) are tied for the series-most in consecutive wins at Darlington with three each. · All seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Darlington Raceway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Among active drivers, Kyle Busch won at Darlington in the fewest previous appearances (three). · Matt Kenseth competed at Darlington Raceway 19 times before winning last season; the longest span of any the six active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Tony Stewart leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Darlington without visiting Victory Lane at 22. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty are tied for the series most runner-up finishes at Darlington with eight each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in second-place finishes at Darlington with four. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Darlington with 25. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19; followed by Jimmie Johnson with nine. · Bill Elliott leads the series in top-10 finishes at Darlington with 35. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 23; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart with 12 each. · Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Darlington with a 6.889. · Three active NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers have an average finish in the top 10 at Darlington: Denny Hamlin (6.8), Kyle Larson (8.0) and Jimmie Johnson (8.4). Track/Event Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Darlington Raceway is the (03/16/2003) race won by Ricky Craven with a MOV of 0.002 second over Kurt Busch . The MOV is tied with the 2011 Talladega race as the closest finish in the NSCS since the inception using electronic timing and scoring. · There have been four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting in a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington Raceway : 2005 (367/370), 2011 (367/370), 2012 (367/368) and 2014 (367/374). Additional Finishing Position Stats · Eight of the 111 races at Darlington Raceway have been shortened du
JGR driver claims back-to-back poles at Loudon, Indy RELATED: Full Indy lineup INDIANAPOLIS -- If Toyota and Ford are to break the Chevrolet stranglehold on Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two manufacturers took a positive step in that direction during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials on Saturday. Underscoring the recent resurgence of Joe Gibbs Racing , Carl Edwards toured the 2.5-mile track in 49.056 seconds (183.464 mph) to put his No. 19 Toyota on the pole for Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM), edging Joey Logano 's Team Penske Ford (183.139 mph) by .087 seconds. David Ragan (182.886 mph) qualified third in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Fourth-place qualifier Tony Stewart (182.823 mph) had the fastest Chevrolet in the final round. Chevrolets have won the last 12 Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis. Stewart, though, had the fastest lap of the afternoon (185.547 mph) in the first round of time trials, which trimmed the number of drivers eligible for the pole from 46 to 12. The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards' first at the Brickyard, his second of the season, his second in a row and the 15th of his career. "After yesterday, this is amazing," Edwards said. "We started so slow yesterday and we struggled. I think at one point (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and I were looking at each other going, 'What are we going to do here?' "It was a struggle, and everybody buckled down, worked hard -- I'm so proud of my guys. TRD and Toyota have been putting so much effort into this whole program. Stanley has been behind us 100 percent -- not just me, but Matt Kenseth and our whole team. This is big. It will be neat to start up front." Kyle Busch , Edwards' JGR teammate, will start ninth on Sunday in search of his third consecutive victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Sidelined for the first 11 events of the season by injuries sustained in an accident at Daytona in February, Busch has won three of the last four races and has seven races left in which to regain eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by finishing the regular season in the top 30 in the series standings. Entering Sunday's race, Busch is 33rd in points, 58 behind David Gilliland in 30th place. Behind Stewart, Kyle Larson , Kevin Harvick , Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will line up fifth through eighth on the grid. After qualifying, Logano and Ragan were quick to point out an unusual coincidence. Edwards , Logano and Ragan started 1-2-3, in that order, a week before at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a one-mile flat track. The Sprint Cup cars are running a completely different high-drag aerodynamic package this week, with a nine-inch-tall rear spoiler and a one-inch wicker. Last week at Loudon, the cars featured the regular 2015 rules package with a six-inch spoiler. "David and I were just laughing up here that these are the same three race cars that started up front at Loudon," Logano said. "A completely different race track, different package and the same cars are fast. It's good for us. We're close. Second always hurts, but it's nice to be up toward the front, especially here." Jeff Gordon 's final run at Indianapolis as a full-time driver didn't start the way the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet would have hoped. "I really think our 3M Chevrolet is really good," said Gordon, who qualified 19th. "It's been good all weekend. I feel like I underestimated the grip. I had a little wiggle out of three coming to the green and that concerned me slightly. The grip was there in Turn 4, and I was aggressive into Turn 1, but not aggressive enough. "That's what's disappointing; it wasn't a balance issue or a speed issue. I didn't get enough speed through (Turn) 1. It adds up with this new package. Yeah, I'm pretty disappointed to start back there." Notes: Josh Wise , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field. ... Ryan Newman ’s time was disallowed because he ran his lap without the mandatory right-side window in his car. Newman will start 43rd on Sunday on a provisional.
Victory is first for Edwards with Joe Gibbs Racing SHOP: Edwards gear " RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. – Will the mystery winner of Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 enter and sign in please? Hint: It's the guy who does back flips every time he takes the checkered flag. But for the first 370 of 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway , no one would have picked Carl Edwards or his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as the likely winner of the season's 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Martin Truex Jr ., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin had spent the lion's share of time at the head of the field, but none of that mattered when Edwards got 62 laps out of his last tank of fuel and took the checkered flag 4.785 seconds ahead of Greg Biffle , who also was on a fuel-saving strategy. In fact, the top four finishers all stretched their gas mileage after pit stops under caution on Lap 337. Dale Earnhardt Jr . ran third, followed by polesitter Matt Kenseth and Truex, who led a race-high 131 laps. Ryan Newman , Brad Keselowski , Hamlin (53 laps led), Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch (118 laps led) completed the top 10. Kyle Busch came home 11th in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race of the season, after missing the first 11 races of the season because of injuries sustained Feb. 21 at Daytona. The victory was Edwards first of the season, his first for Joe Gibbs Racing , his first at Charlotte and the 24th of his career. "It's so cool to get this win—we've had such bad luck," said Edwards , who joined Joe Gibbs Racing as the organization's fourth Sprint Cup driver after the 2014 season. "And we were the slowest of the (JGR cars) tonight, but we had (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) on the box. He made the right call, he put us in a position to win, and it worked. ... "This is truly a gift. I took advantage of it to win, and we'll get better." In all likelihood, the victory will propel Edwards into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . It was also Toyota’s 300th national series victory in the manufacturer's 300th Sprint Cup start. But after the very early stages of the race, Edwards wasn't a factor until fuel strategy came into play in the closing laps. Soon after Jimmie Johnson spun off Turn 4 on Lap 90 to cause the second caution of the afternoon, the race evolved into a two-car contest between the Chevrolets of Kurt Busch and Truex. Within two laps of a restart on Lap 95, Busch drove from ninth to the lead, passing Joey Logano for the top spot on Lap 97. From that point, Busch and Truex swapped stints at the head of the field, and by the time Johnson spun off Turn 4 and smacked the inside wall on Lap 273 to bring out the caution flag for the fifth time, Busch had racked up 118 laps led and Truex 59. But another quick yellow flag on Lap 282 for Ryan Blaney 's blown engine created the opportunity for divergent strategies and scrambled the running order. Truex was one of nine drivers who stayed out under the caution, but both Harvick and Kurt Busch came to pit road for fresh rubber and restarted 10th and 11th, respectively, on Lap 292. Gradually, methodically, Harvick and Kurt Busch drove back toward the front, but the contrarian strategies introduced another major player into the mix. Denny Hamlin surged to the front of the field and led 53 laps before pitting with a loose wheel on Lap 363 and giving up the lead. That put Truex back in front, with Harvick chasing, and both drivers needing one more pit stop to get to the end of the race. Edwards , Biffle, Earnhardt and Kenseth, on the other hand, stopped with 62 laps left, and the decision to come to pit road and gamble on fuel proved decisive—and stole a victory from Truex's dominant car. Biffle put pressure on Edwards in the closing laps, until he momentarily lost fuel pressure with two circuits left. "Running where we were running, it gave us the opportunity to try and stretch the fuel window and make it," Biffle said. "I was putting a lot of pressure on Carl there. I started going with about 10 laps to go. The crew chief (Matt Puccia) told me 'Save all you can, just stay in front of the 88 (Earnhardt),' and I made a decision that I was going to try and beat Carl . I got pretty close to him there, and then with two to go, the fuel light came on that the fuel pressure was low, and so I came around and had to start pushing the clutch in and shutting it off and coasting and try and preserve what fuel I had to make it back. "So excited to see the checkered flag. I wasn't sure I was going to stretch two laps of gas out of it. But it was probably on the straightaway it sucked some air and started flashing the fuel pressure. I was able to run it around the corners and didn't have any more issues, but stayed in front of the 88, finished second, big boost for the team, but probably a bigger boost for the team was how we ran tonight on the race track.” If Biffle had mixed feelings about finishing second, Truex was disconsolate. "Hell, I didn't even know guys could make it on gas," Truex said. I didn't know what was going on. Just can't catch a break there. I'm proud of the guys for an awesome race car. All my guys in Denver (where Furniture Row Racing is based) are putting a great car together. I don't know what to do about that. "We had a great car. Had a chance at it and it stinks to come up short like that on fuel mileage. I've never once in my whole career gained positions on a fuel mileage deal. I don't know what I have to do to catch a break on them deals. It is what it is. Just proud of my guys for what they brought--we will get one." Note: Late in the race, Hamlin reported feeling ill in his car and complained of a severe headache. He was taken to the infield care center after the race, and team owner Joe Gibbs said his driver was dehydrated, was given an IV and was feeling better after the treatment. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JGR driver: 'It's always been a tough place to pass' SPEEDWAY, Ind. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers don’t run wide-open around Indianapolis Motor Speedway , but there’s very little "off-throttle" time, according to Carl Edwards . That makes passing difficult. The 2015 rules package (lower horsepower, less downforce) thus far hasn't helped. Edwards was one of 12 drivers taking part in an open test at the legendary 2.5-mile speedway Wednesday. The series returns to Indianapolis July 24-26 for the annual Crown Royal Presents the 'Your Hero's Name Here' 400 at the Brickyard. "We haven't figured out exactly where we’re going to set up the car so that we can pass," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said during a break at IMS. "There is a lot of on-throttle time. We're very fast through the middle of the corner; we're coming off the corner at 190 mph earlier today … now it’s 183-184. "When you're literally coming on to the straightaway at 185 or 190 mph, there's just not a lot of change between your high speed and your low speed, there's not a lot of off-throttle time. So it becomes very important to find the places on the track where you can gain an advantage and it gets really tough." NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series teams have been racing at Indy since 1994, and drivers have always had a tough time finding passing opportunities on the fast, flat track. The annual Brickyard 400 has seen as many as 26 lead changes (due to tire problems in 2008) and as few as nine (on three occasions). There's yet to be a last-lap pass in the 400, although five times the race winner has taken the lead with 10 or fewer laps remaining. "Because of the speeds here and the way the track's laid out, it's always been a tough place to pass," Edwards said. "I think that's one of the challenges … you have to come here and you have to deal with it. "But really, the short chutes (between Turns 1-2 and 3-4) are really interesting. The way you drive into those corners, the way you set your car up into (Turn) 1 and into 3 so that you can run to that short chute and set up your exit onto the long straightaways, if you can beat a guy there and get to him and force the issue, that's where I've done the little bit of passing that I've done; that's where the guys that have passed me have passed me." Edwards has 10 career starts at Indy, with a best finish of second in 2008. "Once you get on these long straightaways (and) you're wide open, it becomes a dyno race, whose got the most power," he said. "If you can handle well through that sharp, quick corner, and you can carry and extra mile an hour or two onto the straightaway, that's golden. … "The mid-corner speed, middle of the race when it’s hot, having that car handle well I think is the most important thing. And it's the only thing that can change during the event so that's what we focus on." Four teams, those for drivers Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Sam Hornish Jr . ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), J.J. Yeley ( BK Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) took part in a Goodyear tire test at IMS Monday and Tuesday. The Furniture Row team departed after Tuesday's session. In addition to Edwards , joining Gordon, Hornish and Yeley for Wednesday's test were the teams of Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ), Casey Mears ( Germain Racing ), Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ). NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series travels to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for Sunday's GEICO 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner takes you on a tour of the XFINITY Series garage at Darlington Raceway to show off some throwback paint schemes and talk to drivers.