Larson and Keselowski motivated by the unique demands of Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. –  The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at Darlington Raceway this weekend as the Playoffs swiftly approach. There are only two races left in the regular season.  

Kyle Larson is currently 11th in the playoff standings with no wins and only 2 stage points. He is 76 points above the cutoff but needs a victory to solidify his position in the Playoffs. Larson has a driver rating of 108.1, the second-best driver rating at Darlington. In five starts, he has two top-fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 7.6.

Friday, Larson described the allure of the historic track.

“This is one of my favorite tracks, probably in the top three of my favorites,” Larson said. “I enjoy coming here. This track, more than the rest of them, when you drive into this place you feel like you are at a race track. I know it is throwback weekend, but even before all that, I always got that vibe that this felt like a race track.

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“It has fairly small stands for how big this place is. The painted walls, the campgrounds and everything just feels like a grassroots kind of track. The surface is really worn out, the style of racing here is intense, so it suits me and I really enjoy it.”

Brad Keselowski is locked into the Playoffs with three wins. He is also the defending Southern 500 winner. Keselowski spoke about the challenges and rewards of competing at such a demanding track.

Photo by Tim Jarrold for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“I love coming here. It’s always been one of my favorite race tracks,” he said, echoing Larson’s sentiment. “I love the challenge. I love running up against the wall. I’m not always a big fan of the heat but I do like that it’s a very demanding track. It makes you feel like a race car driver.

“It makes you feel like you’re on the edge and it makes me really kind of appreciate my job.  All the race tracks have their challenges, but this one just has so many and it’s so unforgiving.  If you mess up just a little bit, you’re in the wall and your day is ruined.  I appreciate that.  It demands that to be successful you drive aggressively, but also that you not make any mistakes.  That’s pretty cool to me.”

The BoJangles’ Southern 500 is set for Sunday evening at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The regular season will conclude next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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