FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: DARLINGTON NOTES
The annual Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway is up next on the NASCAR schedule with the NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event on Sunday. Brad Keselowski is the defending winner of both series events.
FORD IN THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT DARLINGTON
· Ford has 29 all-time series wins at Darlington.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner won Ford’s first race at Darlington in 1966.
· Brad Keselowski is the defending champion of the Southern 500.
FORD IN THE NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT DARLINGTON
· Ford has 18 series wins at Darlington.
· Mark Martin holds the record for most series wins at Darlington with eight.
· Jack Roush leads all owners with 15 Darlington series wins.
CUP PLAYOFF SCENARIO
Three Ford drivers are separated by only 14 points with two races to go in the regular season as they battle to be part of the 16-driver Playoff field. Ryan Newman currently holds 15th-place while Daniel Suarez is 12 points behind him in 16th position. Clint Bowyer finds himself 17th but is only two points behind his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate. A win by any of the three would automatically result in an automatic postseason berth while a victory by someone below them in the standings would reduce the number of spots available via points to one. Ford currently has five drivers in solid Playoff positions – Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola.
BACK-TO-BACK 1-2 FORD FINISHES
It will be hard to beat last season at Darlington Raceway when Ford posted consecutive 1-2 finishes in the NASCAR XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Brad Keselowski led the final 33 laps and won Saturday’s NXS event after Ross Chastain and Kevin Harvick made contact while battling for the lead. Cole Custer finished second to Keselowski, who registered his first win at Darlington. One night later Keselowski got his second after the No. 2 pit crew got him the lead on the final round of stops. Keselowski took off on the restart and beat Penske teammate Joey Logano to the finish line for Ford’s first Cup win at Darlington since Greg Biffle in 2006.
David Pearson holds the record for most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Darlington Raceway with 10 and eight of those came in Ford Motor Co. products. He won six times driving the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers Mercury (1972,’74,’76-2,’77), winning the Southern 500 twice in that span (1976-77), and two more times in a Holman-Moody Ford (1968 and ’70). Pearson won three Southern 500 titles overall, capturing his third in 1979.
FIELD OF 70
The first time Ford won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway was when Curtis Turner took the Southern 500 on Sept. 3, 1956. Unlike today, where the field is set at a maximum of 40 cars, there were 70 vehicles in the race that saw Turner lead 224 of the 400 laps. He beat Speedy Thompson to the finish line by more than two laps, and did in record fashion with an average race speed of 95.167 mph.
MILLION DOLLAR BILL
Bill Elliott earned the nickname “Million Dollar Bill” after winning the Winston Million Bonus in its first year of existence on Sept. 1, 1985. Needing to win three of the four “crown jewel” races in order to claim the $1 million bonus from series sponsor Winston, Elliott won the Daytona 500 and Winston 500. His chance to claim the prize in the Coca-Cola 600 failed, so he needed a win in the Southern 500. Elliott qualified on the pole and led the first 14 laps, but Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough served notice that they were going to be contenders. Earnhardt led a race-high 147 laps, but a blown engine forced him out of the race while Yarborough suffered a power-steering problem that derailed his chances. Elliott passed Yarborough when he had his problem with 44 to go and held on to win by three car lengths.
No race exemplifies Darlington’s toughness better than the Southern 500 that took place on Sept. 6, 1965 in which only 15 of 44 cars finished the race, and was highlighted by Cale Yarborough flying over the guard rail and down an embankment in turn one. The attrition that day may have been partly responsible for Ned Jarrett winning by a NASCAR-record 14 laps, but it wasn’t the sole reason. Jarrett and his No. 11 Ford were competitive all day, running up front and leading two times for 23 laps during the middle stages. But when Fred Lorenzen and Darel Dieringer both encountered mechanical problems on lap 325 of the 364-lap event, Jarrett was there to capitalize and cruise to his 12th victory of the season. He won by a NASCAR-record 14 laps and clinched Ford’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver championship in the process.
DALE AND BUD
The first of Dale Earnhardt’s three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins with Ford and car owner Bud Moore came on April 4, 1982 when he won the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 at Darlington Raceway. Earnhardt, who drove two seasons for Moore in 1982 and ’83, dominated a race that saw 20 of the 37 cars not finish due to a variety of issues. Earnhardt led 181-of-367 laps and beat Cale Yarborough to the finish line for his seventh career victory. Earnhardt eventually went on to win two more races with Moore the following season at Nashville and Talladega.
It’s been more than 10 years since Ford went to victory lane in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington with the last time being on May 13, 2006 when Greg Biffle won for the second straight year. Biffle held off Jeff Gordon over the closing laps for his 10th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, and he did it in dominating fashion as he led 170 of the 367 laps. The race marked the fourth time Biffle led the most laps in the first 11 races that season, but it was his first victory.
FORD MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES RACE WINNERS AT DARLINGTON
1956 – Curtis Turner
1960 – Joe Weatherly (1)
1961 – Fred Lorenzen and Nelson Stacy
1962 – Nelson Stacy and Larry Frank
1963 – Fireball Roberts (2)
1964 – Fred Lorenzen (1)
1965 – Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett
1968 – David Pearson (1)
1969 – Lee Roy Yarbrough (2)
1970 – David Pearson (1)
1981 – Neil Bonnett (2)
1982 – Dale Earnhardt (1)
1985 – Bill Elliott (Sweep)
1988 – Bill Elliott (2)
1992 – Bill Elliott (1)
1993 – Mark Martin (2)
1994 – Bill Elliott (2)
1997 – Dale Jarrett (1)
1998 – Dale Jarrett (1)
1999 – Jeff Burton (Sweep)
2001 – Dale Jarrett (1)
2005 – Greg Biffle
2006 – Greg Biffle
2018 – Brad Keselowski
FORD NASCAR XFINITY SERIES RACE WINNERS AT DARLINGTON
1993 – Mark Martin (2)
1994 – Mark Martin (Sweep)
1995 – Mark Martin (2)
1996 – Mark Martin (1) and Terry Labonte (2)
1997 – Jeff Burton (2)
1999 – Mark Martin (2)
2000 – Mark Martin (Sweep)
2001 – Jeff Green (1) and Jeff Burton (2)
2002 – Jeff Burton (Sweep)
2004 – Greg Biffle (1)
2005 – Matt Kenseth
2009 – Matt Kenseth
2018 – Brad Keselowski