TEAM CHEVY NASCAR RACE ADVANCE: Darlington Raceway

THROWBACK AT “THE LADY IN BLACK”

The next stop of the 2024 NASCAR season will see all three national series compete at one of the sport’s most historic ovals: Darlington Raceway. The three-day event will mark the 10th time the 1.366-mile South Carolina oval will host the sport’s annual “Throwback Weekend”, with drivers and teams across the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS), NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) sporting unique liveries honoring the sport’s history.

For the fourth consecutive season, Darlington Raceway will play host to NASCAR for two event weekends, with the NCS and NXS returning to “The Lady in Black” in September. A shift in the schedule has made the South Carolina oval the new home for the 2024 regular-season finale for NASCAR’s premier series.

In six tripleheader weekends this season, Chevrolet is the only manufacturer to achieve a sweep of the wins across all three NASCAR national series – accomplishing the feat three times (Daytona International Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway).

In the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington:

Since hosting NASCAR’s inaugural event in 1950, the 1.366-mile South Carolina oval has hosted 125 races for NASCAR’s top division. Chevrolet leads the series with 44 all-time NASCAR Cup Series victories at Darlington Raceway, with the manufacturer looking to make it four-straight trips to victory lane at the track in Sunday’s Goodyear 400. There have been 23 different drivers that have earned a victory for Chevrolet at “The Lady in Black”. That list includes Herb Thomas, who produced the Bowtie brand’s inaugural win at the track on Sept. 5, 1955.

In the Next Gen Era at Darlington:

Since the introduction of the Next Gen vehicles to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, Chevrolet leads the way with victories in three of the four races held at Darlington Raceway – all recorded in the series’ last three appearances at the track. The manufacturer’s three-peat at the South Carolina oval started with a victory by Erik Jones behind the wheel of a Petty-GMS Camaro ZL1 in Sept. 2022, with Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron (May 2023) and Kyle Larson (Sept. 2023) sweeping the events last season.

MILESTONE MEMORIES

Chevrolet heads to Darlington Raceway with an active streak of three-straight trips to victory lane in NASCAR’s top division, with each of those victories holding a monumental significance for the team. The first two of those triumphs came with Erik Jones and William Byron behind the wheel of two of the sport’s most iconic car numbers – both of which were milestone victories with Jones giving the No. 43 its 200th all-time win (Sept. 2022) and Byron taking the No. 24 to its 100th all-time win (May 2023). Most recently in Sept. 2023, Kyle Larson’s victory in the series’ playoff opener delivered the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop its 500th win in the NASCAR national ranks.

Erik Jones

No. 43 Petty GMS Racing Chevrolet Sept. 4, 2022

William Byron

No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

May 14, 2023

Kyle Larson

No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Sept. 3, 2023

BYRON, KVAPIL HIGHLIGHTS DARLINGTON NXS ENTRY LIST

Slated to join Team Chevy’s full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series contenders at Darlington Raceway include William Byron and Carson Kvapil.

William Byron – the track’s defending winner of the NASCAR Cup Series’ spring event – will get behind the wheel of the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro SS for his second of four starts in the entry this season. The 26-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina, native has just one NXS start at “The Lady in Black” – earning a fifth-place finish in his title-winning season (2017). The No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro SS has made four starts in the NXS this season, with Kyle Larson taking the entry to victory lane at Circuit of The Americas in March. 

JR Motorsports will be fielding its fifth entry for its fourth start of the season, with Carson Kvapil returning to the seat of the No. 88 Camaro SS for Saturday’s 200-mile event. The 20-year-old Mooresville, North Carolina, native made his series’ debut at Martinsville Speedway in April – reeling off an impressive fourth-place finish. The two-time CARS Tour Champion followed up that performance with a runner-up finish at Dover Motor Speedway two weeks ago – a result that came after leading his first-ever laps in the series during a late-race battle for the win.

Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway:

In 67 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Darlington Raceway, Chevrolet leads the series with 22 all-time victories in the series. Since 2021, the Bowtie brand has visited victory lane at “The Lady in Black” in five of the series’ six appearances at the track. Four of those victories came courtesy of back-to-back season sweeps by JR Motorsports in 2021-2022 with two wins each by Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson. Chevrolet is the series’ defending winner in the spring event at Darlington Raceway – a victory recorded by Kyle Larson behind the wheel of Kaulig Racing’s all-star entry last season.

HITTING THE HALFWAY POINT

With eight races complete, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has officially hit the halfway point of its regular season. Chevrolet has posted a powerhouse performance throughout the 2024 season, with the manufacturer heading into the second-half of the regular-season leading nearly all major statistical categories:

Four drivers from three different Chevrolet teams have earned a combined six victories including Spire Motorsports with three wins (Kyle Busch – two wins; Rajah Caruth – one win); McAnally-Hilgemann Racing’s Christian Eckes with two wins; and Rev Racing’s Nick Sanchez with one win.


Chevrolet has recorded a series-leading six pole wins – each of which have been recorded by a different Team Chevy driver. 


Chevrolet leads its manufacturer competitors with wins in 12 of the 16 stages thus far this season.
In each of Chevrolet’s six victories this season, the Bowtie brand has claimed at least 50 percent of the top-10 finishing positions, including a season-high seven top-10s on two separate occasions (Daytona International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway).
Chevrolet – the defending NCTS Manufacturer Champion – has remained atop the series’ manufacturer points standings throughout the entirety of the season thus far. Entering the second-half of the regular-season, Chevrolet holds a 28-point advantage over its manufacturer competitors – a lead nearly triple in size compared to its lead at this time last season. 

Chevrolet in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Darlington Raceway:

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has a much shorter history at Darlington Raceway, with Friday’s Buckle Up South Carolina 200 marking the series’ 12th appearance at the track. The 2024 season marks the track’s fourth consecutive year hosting the NCTS, with each of Chevrolet’s three victories in the series coming within that time span. Sheldon Creed and GMS Racing drove Chevrolet to its first two NCTS victories at “The Lady in Black” – sweeping both events in 2021. Christian Eckes and the No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Silverado RST team is the series’ defending Darlington winners – picking up the win in the May 2023 event.

BOWTIE BULLETS:

· With 30 races complete across NASCAR’s three national series this season, Chevrolet has a winning percentage of 60% with 18 victories (NASCAR Cup Series – seven wins; NASCAR Xfinity Series – five wins; NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – six wins).

· Active Chevrolet drivers with a NASCAR Cup Series win at Darlington Raceway:

Kyle Larson – one win (Sept. 2023)

William Byron – one win (May 2023)

Kyle Busch – one win (May 2008)

· In 125 NASCAR Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 44 victories. In four events in the series’ Next Gen era at the 1.366-mile South Carolina oval, Chevrolet has earned three victories – each recorded in the series’ last three appearances at the track.

· Team Chevy’s William Byron is the only driver to have a double-digit win record in the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen era – with his victory at Martinsville Speedway marking his 11th all-time victory in the Next Gen Camaro ZL1.

· In 84 points-paying races in the Next Gen era, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 44 victories – a winning percentage of 52.4%.

· In six tripleheader weekends this season, Chevrolet is the only manufacturer to reel off a weekend sweep – accomplishing the feat three times (Daytona International Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway).

· With its 42 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships, 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships, and 858 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet continues to hold the title as the winningest brand in NASCAR Cup Series history.

Manufacturer Points Standings

Chevrolet: 446
Toyota: 435 (-11)
Ford: 398 (-48)

Manufacturer Points Standings

Chevrolet: 370
Toyota: 365 (-5)
Ford: 311 (-59)

Manufacturer Points Standings

Chevrolet: 308
Toyota: 280 (-28)
Ford: 251 (-57)

TUNE-IN:

NASCAR Cup Series

Goodyear 400

Sunday, May 12, at 3 p.m. ET

(FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200

Saturday, May 11, at 1:30 p.m. ET

(FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

Buckle Up South Carolina 200

Friday, May 10, at 7:30 pm. ET

(FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)

QUOTABLE QUOTES:

ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 BUSCH LIGHT THROWBACK CAMARO ZL1

What is the difference between running really well at Darlington and finishing well?

“I wish I knew the answer to that (laughs). Finishing well is keeping the car intact and not hitting the wall too hard. Keeping the wheel straight, keeping paint out of the wheels as much as you can if you hit the wall, have the suspension the same way you went to the track with it at lap 495…those are all the reasons of finishing well instead of just running well.”

Does Darlington hold any special significance to you since you kind of burst onto the scene there and everyone took notice of you there?

“There’s so much about that CGR No. 42 Xfinity car. The year before at Darlington was when a sponsor saw me dumping the honey tank from the camper and that led me to driving for Chip. Yes, that weekend going down the backstretch and feeling the horsepower of the 42 car, the grip in the corners, qualifying, the race and the ending, obviously. Yes, so much about that is so vivid in my memory. It was a real turning point in my career and my life. My life has forever been changed because of that one weekend at Darlington. I was going to head-to-head with two Cup champions. Racing with those guys was the first time I had done it. Yes, I remember a lot about that weekend.”

Darlington is known to be one of the toughest tracks on the circuit, why is that?

“Darlington is the most difficult oval to me. The ends being so different and the speed being up by the wall, you’re going to hit the wall if you overstep. It’s a high commitment track. At the end of a run at Darlington you’re running so much slower than the start of a run but you have to be so precise. You put tires on at Darlington and you’re going so much faster than you were. The way you have to adjust your driving at Darlington throughout a run makes it very challenging.”

How does it feel to be making your 200th Cup start?

“Well, I can definitely remember making my first Cup start at Dover. I was nervous to be in a Cup car, nervous to be doing it at Dover, all of the things that come with it. It’s great to be doing it at Darlington because it’s a track that I really like. I hope to be driving a Cup car and winning for several more hundred starts.”

AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS CAMARO ZL1

400 miles at Darlington Raceway is grueling. How do you stay focused?

“We always have a long, hot race at Darlington Raceway. Keeping hydrated is key leading up to the event, and working out in the gym and running laps on the simulator helps me maintain focus during 400 miles. I am looking forward to racing at Darlington Raceway. This is one of my favorite tracks. I have finished second here in the past, so we want to improve on that. We need to qualify well on Saturday because track position is extremely important and a good pit stall can make the difference during the race.”

Do you enjoy racing at Darlington?

“I enjoy racing at Darlington Raceway. It’s challenging. The track gets slick and wears tires quite a bit. The key to Darlington is trying to race the track and not the competition. It would be nice to knock off another Crown Jewel. I have two of them, and another one would be very special.”

KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 ZONE CAMARO ZL1

Has the Next Gen car changed how you race at Darlington?

“I don’t know that it’s really changed the race a whole lot at Darlington. I think we’ve always kind of had trouble passing there to begin with anyways because the track is so narrow and it’s really, really tough to pass regardless. The Next Gen car has definitely created more gaps between the cars, so it is harder to get to the back of the guy in front of you.”

Do you still have the same approach where you have to keep the car off the wall and stay out of trouble?

“It’s changed a little bit too with the ability of being able to lean up against the wall and be closer to the wall with the body because the flange fit body allows it to flex in and flex out. But the car is still very brittle with the components to it. You can bend a toe-link pretty easy.”

How challenging is entering pit road off the track between Turns 3 and 4?

“Pit Road entry in the middle of Turns 3 and 4 is not really that bad. You just have to know where it’s at. Experience is obviously the best key. You have to maintain that slowing down time up on top of the racetrack and then the turning down. You’re only running between 45 and 50 laps on tires versus years ago you’d run 60 or so. The tires are old and worn out and they feel bad but they’re not as bad as they could be.”

Do you enjoy the challenge of racing at Darlington?

“I do feel like Darlington has its own unique challenges and those challenges are pretty fun. It kind of gives to that old school nature of NASCAR but yet still has its own unique differences between any of the other one-mile or mile-and-a-half racetracks that we go to.”

DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 31 BLACK’S TIRE CAMARO ZL1

“Darlington is such a wildcard for everyone. This track is always evolving so fast, and these Next Gen cars allow for more versatility, as far as not having to be in one particular lane. There’s a lot of room for opportunity there. I’m also looking forward to having Black’s Tire on our No. 31 Camaro ZL1 and remembering the time I spent alongside Ricky [Benton] during my early racing career.”

ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY THROWBACK CAMARO ZL1

Bowman on racing at Darlington Raceway:

“Darlington (Raceway) is such a tough place to put an entire day together. The race is super long and you kind of have to run that place in a high risk space for the entire day. It’s hard to do that for that long without mentally making a mistake or kind of overstepping the boundaries and hurting your race car. It’s a tough place for sure, but a challenge that I look forward to tackling this weekend with the Ally Racing team. We’re running a special throwback on our team’s Chevy this weekend too. It will be cool to run the scheme from Jimmie (Johnson)’s rookie year in 2002. Jimmie (Johnson) has always been a great Ally and is a large piece of the history and success behind the No. 48.”

BLAKE HARRIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY THROWBACK CAMARO ZL1

Harris on racing at Darlington Raceway:

“With running the Ally throwback scheme this weekend, it would be great to get the No. 48 back in victory lane. Darlington (Raceway) is a tough track and honestly, I feel like our team has some unfinished business there (Darlington Raceway) from last fall. We crashed there in the late stages while we were right there around the top five. So, I’m looking forward to getting back to competing at “The Lady in Black” with Alex (Bowman).”

CARSON HOCEVAR, NO. 77 PREMIER SECURITY / NLEOMF.ORG CAMARO ZL1

“I am so excited for this weekend at Darlington. It’s a really cool scheme on my Premier Security Chevy for an even better cause and we’re racing for a lot of people this weekend. To be a part of this with a longtime sponsor, supporting something that means so much to not only Dave Forystek (CEO of Premier Security) but also myself and my family, I couldn’t be happier. I’m thrilled to go to a place where I can be versatile. I’m ready to put together a really good run for a lot of really great men and women who serve us and our community.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 QUAKER STATE CAMARO ZL1

Suárez on the throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway:

“It’s special because it’s the only weekend of the entire year of almost 40 races that we get to play around with throwbacks to recognize not just all the generations of drivers, but teams, paint schemes and everything, really. It’s a lot of fun to celebrate the history of NASCAR, teams and drivers. I enjoy it a lot.”

What makes Darlington Raceway so tough?

“Darlington (Raceway) is one of the toughest racetracks. The reason for that is because it’s tough on tires. It’s only one lane, maybe two at times, in (turns) three and four, and one-and-a-half in one and two. It’s a tricky one. You have to be very precise. It’s a long race, as well. 400 miles, 500 miles, 600 miles – whatever that may be, Darlington is a long race. It’s way different to run 500 miles at Daytona (International Speedway) than it is to run 500 miles at Darlington. At Darlington, it feels like it goes forever.

It’s a tough task, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge. We’ve run well there in the past, and we’re looking forward to putting a very special paint scheme upfront – honoring Adrián Fernández with his Quaker State IndyCar scheme from 20 years ago. Hopefully, we can have a good run with it.”

BAYLEY CURREY, NO. 41 AUTOVENTIVE / PRECISION SILVERADO RST

Does the excessive tire falloff help overcome the battle for clean air or does that make it more important?

“I think it makes it that much more important. Without the clean air, you’re using mechanical grip more than you’re using aero, so you’re just shredding your tires even more. You have to get that track position early while you have the grip, because once you lose it, it’s pretty much impossible.”

MATT MILLS, NO. 42 J.F. ELECTIC / UTILITRA SILVERADO RST

How difficult is it to run inches from the wall here in Darlington?

“Darlington will be a new one for me as far as going there in a truck. I’ve got Xfinity starts there, and in those cars, you can be a little bit more aggressive running the wall because the composite body can take more of a beating. So, the truck will be a little more interesting there, I’ll definitely have to watch out for the risk vs. reward for sure.”

ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 45 BUCKLE UP SOUTH CAROLINA SILVERADO RST

Of all the tracks on the Truck Series calendar, why did you choose to add Darlington to your schedule?

“Darlington has always been one of my favorite tracks because of how challenging it is on us drivers. I love the tracks that you have to manage all the little details because it feels so rewarding when you hit everything right. Phil Gould and this team have shown a lot of speed at this place over the past few years. Every time I get the chance to drive for Al Niece, I feel confident that we have a shot to contend for the win, but even more so especially at a track where they’ve had recent success at. I’m looking forward to racing there and encouraging everyone to buckle up.”

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