Crunching The Numbers: Darlington

by David Morgan On Wed, May. 08, 2013


With a weekend full of rain delays, wild wrecks, close finishes, and underdog winners at Talladega Superspeedway behind them, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series head to Darlington Raceway, NASCAR’s first superspeedway, for some night racing on Mother’s Day weekend at the track that is “Too Tough To Tame”.

Sprint Cup Series

Saturday night’s 64th Annual Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington, which has become a staple of Mother’s Day weekend in recent years, is one of the toughest races of the year in large part to the egg shaped nature of the track that gives crew chiefs fits when trying to perfect the setup of the car and the inevitable “Darlington Stripe” that drivers are sure to get during the duration of the event. The new Gen6 car will also make its Darlington debut this weekend and 500 miles on Saturday will tell the tale if early season success with the car will lead to Victory Lane or if we’ll see a new winner take the checkered flag.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Denny Hamlin 7 1 3 6 0 354 10.7 5.9
Jimmie Johnson 14 3 7 10 0 543 12.5 9.1
Brad Keselowski 4 0 1 2 0 0 16.2 9.2
Martin Truex, Jr. 7 0 1 3 0 98 24.3 11.3
Tony Stewart 20 0 4 11 0 20 17.1 11.8
Jeff Gordon 32 7 18 21 3 1720 6.7 11.8
Jeff Burton 30 2 8 16 0 817 20.7 12.3
Mark Martin 46 2 17 26 2 801 13.3 12.4
Ryan Newman 14 0 7 9 1 325 7.9 12.4
Carl Edwards 9 0 3 6 0 94 15.8 13.1

Who To Watch: This weekend, Denny Hamlin is scheduled to make a full time return to racing after getting out early at Talladega last weekend. Hamlin couldn’t have picked a better track to make his return at than Darlington because Hamlin leads all active drivers with the best average finish of 5.9 in seven starts at the track, along with one win, three top fives, six top tens, and 354 laps led. The next driver, Jimmie Johnson, is a full 3.2 position points behind with an average finish of 9.1 in 14 starts. However, Johnson does have more wins, top fives, top tens, and laps led than Hamlin with three wins, seven top fives, 10 top tens, and 543 laps led. Defending series champion, Brad Keselowski, will also be another to watch with his 9.2 average finish in four starts, which is comprised of one top five and two top tens.

One last driver to keep an eye on is Jeff Gordon, who is the wins leader among active drivers with seven wins in 32 starts. Gordon also has amassed 18 top fives, 21 top tens, three poles, 1720 laps led and an average finish of 11.8. Gordon will also be making his 700th career Sprint Cup Series start this weekend.

Nationwide Series

As has been commonplace for Nationwide and Cup Series companion weekends all season long, several Cup drivers will run the Nationwide race in order to learn information for the Cup race and to go all out to win the trophy and Friday night’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will be more of the same with the Cup regulars battling it out with the Nationwide regulars for supremacy at Darlington.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Austin Dillon 1 0 1 1 0 0 3.0 5.0
Joey Logano 2 1 1 1 0 4 4.5 6.5
Sam Hornish, Jr. 2 0 1 1 0 3 10.0 7.5
Matt Kenseth 16 3 9 12 0 327 12.4 9.7
Justin Allgaier 4 0 2 2 0 31 11.0 9.8
Kasey Kahne 10 0 1 4 0 46 13.7 12.8
Reed Sorenson 4 0 0 2 0 0 20.5 13.0
Kyle Busch 8 1 3 4 1 273 5.1 13.5
Jeff Green 19 1 5 9 1 86 16.1 14.9
Trevor Bayne 1 0 0 0 0 0 9.0 16.0

Who To Watch: Heading into his second start at the track, Austin Dillon leads all drivers with the best average finish of 5.0 after his 5th place finish last year and his qualifying run that placed him in 3rd to start the race. Next in line is Joey Logano, with one win, one top five, one top ten, four laps led and an average finish of 6.5 in two starts. Others who should be good at Darlington include: Sam Hornish, Jr., who has one top five, one top ten, three laps led, and an average finish of 7.5 in two starts; Matt Kenseth, with three wins, nine top fives, twelve top tens, 327 laps led, and an average finish of 9.7 in 16 starts; and Justin Allgaier, with two top fives, two top tens, 31 laps led, and an average finish of 9.8 in four starts.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c) **

David Morgan is a native of Raymond, MS and has been a NASCAR fan since the early 90's. Learning to love the sport from his father and after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993 at the age of 7, he has been hooked ever since. David has attended and covered races all across the country at tracks such as Talladega Superspeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Daytona International Speedway and hopes to continue to add to that list in the years ahead. David is a graduate of The University of Mississippi and besides NASCAR, is a fan of Ole Miss athletics, as well as the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts of the NFL. Follow on Twitter at @damorgan86

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