NCS AT DARLINGTON: Team Chevy Advance


With the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) regular-season officially in the books; the 2022 playoff field is set and all eyes turn to the race to the championship.


16 drivers have earned their chance to battle for the coveted NCS championship title over the final 10-race stretch. The 16-driver playoff field and elimination-style format was introduced to the series in 2014. There are three rounds (three races per round) in the NCS playoffs, plus one final championship-crowning season finale. Four drivers will be eliminated following each three-race round.



The NCS playoffs Round of 16 gets underway this weekend at Darlington Raceway, with Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 marking the first of three races in the opening round. The 1.366-mile oval known as “The Track Too Tough to Tame” is the fourth venue in the series’ history to host the first race in the NCS post-season, with the 2022 season marking the third year the track has opened the playoffs for NASCAR’s premier series.



In 122 NCS races held at Darlington Raceway, Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane 41 times to lead all manufacturers. In last season’s playoff opener at the South Carolina venue, the bowtie brigade was led by Kyle Larson, who drove his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 to his third career runner-up finish at the track… a feat that leads all active NCS drivers. 



Heading into the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway last weekend, seven Chevrolet drivers had already secured their playoff positions by virtue of a win. With two remaining playoff spots up for grabs, Chevrolet drivers below the cutline took on the 2.5-mile Florida superspeedway in a “must-win” situation to keep their championship hopes alive.  


Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon saw and conquered that challenge, scoring his first win of the 2022 season to claim a playoff berth. The famed Florida venue holds a special place in Dillon’s racing career, adding a crown jewel win to his name in the 2018 Daytona 500. A win at Daytona that gives Dillon and the No. 3 Camaro ZL1 team a chance at the championship title makes it that much sweeter.


While the 400-mile race was postponed until Sunday morning due to weather; Mother Nature continued to linger, causing an increase in urgency that effected moves on the track and calls from atop the pit box. After just receiving the “lucky dog” pass to get back onto the lead lap, a massive wreck transpired at the front of the pack. Dillon was able to maneuver his No. 3 Camaro ZL1 through the carnage to the front, moving the team to the top of the leaderboard just before the race went under red flag conditions due to rainfall for more than three hours.


When the track was back to race conditions, the field would take the green with 15 laps remaining, with Dillon back out front. The 32-year-old North Carolina native made a strong pass for the lead, with his RCR teammate, Tyler Reddick, in tow. Dillon stayed out front, taking the checkered by 0.128 seconds over Reddick to give the organization a 1-2 finish.


The bowtie brand went on to take four of the top-five finishing positions in the regular-season finale, with Landon Cassill, No. 77 Spire Motorsports Camaro ZL1, in fourth; and Noah Gragson scoring a NCS career-best finish of fifth in the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Camaro ZL1. This marks the seventh time this season that the final running order has seen Chevrolet drivers take four of the top-five finishing positions.. with that feat now being accomplished for the past two consecutive races.


“I felt like I had good Chevrolet teammates behind me,” said Dillon. “If I could get the lead, the 2 (Austin Cindric) would not be able to hold onto the draft. We’ve done it in practice enough to know that you’ll lose the tail and it’s hard to get back to it. I’m so proud of these guys and I’m glad to be going to Victory Lane.”


Dillon’s win brings Chevrolet’s NCS regular-season win total to 15 in 26-points paying races, more than double each of its manufacturer competitors. In a standout debut season for the Next Gen Camaro ZL1, the manufacturer also continues to leads the series in top-fives (63), top-10s (113), laps led (3,051) and stage wins (21) heading into the final 10-race stretch.  



With at least one win to their names in the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season; eight Chevrolet drivers have clinched a berth in this season’s NCS playoffs, giving the bowtie brand 50 percent of the playoff field as the manufacturer looks to defend its NCS Driver and Manufacturer Championships. Since the debut of the 16-driver playoff format to the series in 2014; at least five Chevrolet drivers have been represented in the playoffs each season. The 2022 season also marks the fourth time since 2014 that Chevrolet has accounted for at least 50 percent of the playoff field, with 2015 bringing a manufacturer-high nine drivers to the playoffs. 

Chevrolet All-Time NASCAR Cup Series



Manufacturer Championships:

1st Chevy Title: 1958

Most Recent Title: 2021

Highest Number of Consecutive Titles: 13 (2003-2015)


Driver Championships:

1st Chevy title: Buck Baker (1957)

Most Recent: Kyle Larson (2021)

Highest Number of Consecutive Titles: 7 (2005-2011)

Chevrolet – the winningest brand in NASCAR Cup Series history – recorded its series-leading 40th NCS Manufacturer Championship and its 33rd NCS Driver Championship in 2021. While looking to go back-to-back in manufacturer titles, the bowtie brand is looking to make it a three-peat in driver championships, following Chase Elliott (2020) and Kyle Larson’s (2021) first career NCS championships. 


A look at the eight Chevrolet drivers in the NCS title hunt: 

Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 – 1st in Playoff Standings

2022 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champion

Victories: 4 (series-leading)

Top-Fives: 10 (tied for series-leading);

Top-10s: 17 (series-leading);

Laps Led: 719 (series-leading);

Average Finish: 10.5 (series-leading);

Stage Wins: 5

Of Note:

   – For the first time in his NCS career, Elliott was crowned the 2022 NCS Regular Season Champion.

   – The 2022 season marks Elliott’s seventh consecutive appearance in the NCS playoffs.

   – Elliott has advanced to the Championship 4 the past two seasons, winning his first career NCS Driver Championship in 2020.

   – Six of his 17 career NCS wins have come in the playoffs.


Ross Chastain, No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Camaro ZL1 – 3rd in Playoff Standings

Victories: 2

Top-Fives: 10 (tied for series-leading);

Top-10s: 14

Laps Led: 583

Average Finish: 14.6

Stage Wins: 5

Of Note:

    – The 2022 season marks Chastain’s first career appearance in the NCS playoffs.

    – Chastain secured a playoff berth with his first career NCS win at COTA in March; also marking Trackhouse Racing’s first win in the organization’s second season in the series. 


Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 – 4th in Playoff Standings

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion

Victories: 2

Top-Fives: 10 (tied for series-leading)

Top-10s: 13

Laps Led: 307

Average Finish: 14.3

Stage Wins: 3

Of Note:

    – In 2021, Larson scored his first career NCS Regular Season Championship, going on to win his first career NCS Driver Championship.

    – The 2022 season marks Larson’s sixth appearance in the NCS playoffs, with 2021 bringing Larson his first trip to the Championship 4.

    – During the playoff era (2004-present); Larson leads the series in multiple playoff race wins in a single season’ with five in 2021 (Bristol, Charlotte ROVAL, Texas, Kansas, Phoenix).




William Byron, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 – 5th in Playoff Standings

Victories: 2

Top-Fives: 4

Top-10s: 5

Laps Led: 612

Average Finish: 18.1

Stage Wins: 3

Of Note:

    – The 2022 season marks Byron’s fourth consecutive appearance in the NCS playoffs.

    – Bryon’s career-best finish in the NCS playoffs came in 2021, finishing the season 10th in the final standings.


Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Camaro ZL1 – 8th in Playoff Standings



Victories: 2

Top-Fives: 8

Top-10s: 11

Laps Led: 331

Average Finish: 16.7

Stage Wins: 2

Of Notes:  

    – The 2022 season marks Reddick’s second consecutive appearance in the NCS playoffs, with his first coming in 2021.

    – Reddick earned a playoff berth following his first career NCS win at Road America; going on to win his second of the season at the Indianapolis Road Course. 


Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Camaro ZL1 – 13th in Playoff Standings

Victories: 1

Top-Fives: 6

Top-10s: 10

Laps Led: 238

Average Finish: 16.5

Stage Wins: 2

Of Note:

    – The 2022 season marks Suarez’s first career appearance in the NCS playoffs.

    – Suarez earned his playoff berth following his first career NCS win at Sonoma Raceway.




Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 – 14th in Playoff Standings

Victories: 1

Top-Fives: 3

Top-10s: 10

Laps Led: 29

Average Finish: 15.7

Stage Wins: 1

Of Note:

    – The 2022 season marks Bowman’s fifth consecutive appearance in the NCS playoffs.

    – Bowman has raced his way into the Round of 12 in each of his NCS playoff appearances; making it to the Round of Eight in the 2020 season to score a career-best sixth in the final standings. 


Austin Dillon, No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Camaro ZL1 – 16th in Playoff Standings

Victories: 1

Top-Fives: 4

Top-10s: 8

Laps Led: 18

Average Finish: 19.8

Stage Wins: 0

Of Note:

    – The 2022 season marks Dillon’s fifth appearance in the NCS playoffs.

    – Dillon’s playoff berth came from his win in the NCS regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway, after entering the weekend in a must-win scenario to take one of the final two playoff spots.

    – Dillon’s career-best finish in the NCS playoffs is 11th, accomplishing that feat in 2017 and 2020. 



The Camaro SS has taken the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season by storm, sitting at now 16 victories in the series’ 23 races thus far.. a win count that is more than double its manufacturer competitors combined. With 10 races still remaining in the season, Chevrolet’s current manufacturer-leading 16 wins has already matched its total number of victories recorded in the 2021 NXS season.



With just three races left in the NXS regular-season, five full-time NXS Chevrolet drivers have notched at least one win to clinch a playoff berth. Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger is en route to going back-to-back in NXS regular-season championship titles, holding strong atop the driver standings by 58-points over second. Chevrolet is also on the path to making it six in a row in NXS Manufacturer Championship titles, now reaching a triple digit lead in the manufacturer standings over its competitors.


On top of continuing its winning ways in the overall season, Chevrolet drivers and teams are heading into the Darlington race weekend looking to make it four in a row in NXS race wins at the “Lady in Black”. JR Motorsports has conquered the 1.366-mile South Carolina track for the past three NXS races held at the venue. Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson swept the Darlington race wins in 2021, with Allgaier and the No. 7 Camaro SS team returning to victory lane at the track in May to score their first of three wins thus far this season. 


For the second consecutive weekend, a Chevrolet-powered machine has made its way to victory lane in both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series races to sweep the weekend. This isn’t an unfamiliar feat for Chevrolet in the 2022 season. The Daytona race weekend marked the ninth time that Chevrolet has swept the wins when the NCS and NXS are in competition on the same weekend.. two of which added in a NCWTS win to make it an all-Chevrolet victory lane across all three NASCAR national series. 


·       Victories by active Chevrolet drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington Raceway include:

       Erik Jones (2019)


·       In 122 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Darlington Raceway, Chevrolet has recorded 41 wins to lead all manufacturers. In addition, the bowtie brand has recorded 22 pole wins, 197 top-fives and 412 top-10s at the 1.366-mile South Carolina venue.





·       In his nine career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, reigning NCS Champion Kyle Larson leads all active NCS drivers in average finishing position at the track (6.0). Larson also leads all active NCS drivers in runner-up finishes at Darlington with three, including last season’s playoff opener.


·       In the 26-race NASCAR Cup Series regular-season, Chevrolet drivers have taken four of the top-five finishing positions in seven races, including the past two consecutive weekends (Watkins Glen and Daytona).


·       Austin Dillon’s win at Daytona made him the eighth Chevrolet driver to claim a spot in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, giving the bowtie brand 50 percent of the 16-driver NCS playoff field.


·       Chevrolet heads into the 10-race NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a manufacturer-leading 15 NCS wins in 26 points-paying races. The bowtie brand also continues to lead its manufacturer competitors in NCS top-fives (63), top-10s (113), laps led (3,051) and stage wins (21).





·       Seven Team Chevy drivers have combined 21 NASCAR Cup Series stage wins:

Tyler Reddick 2 – Fontana x2

Alex Bowman 1 – Las Vegas

Ross Chastain 4 – Las Vegas, Darlington, Charlotte, Pocono, Richmond

William Byron 3 – Phoenix, Atlanta, Talladega

Daniel Suarez 2 – COTA, Charlotte

Chase Elliott 3 – Martinsville x2, Charlotte, Atlanta x2

Kyle Larson 3 – Bristol, Sonoma, Pocono


·       Chevrolet leads the driver points standing in both the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. 2022 NCS Regular-Season Champion, Chase Elliott, enters race one of the Round of 16 at the top of the leaderboard with 2,040 points and 40 playoff points. AJ Allmendinger continues to lead the NXS standings by 58 points. Chevrolet – reigning NCS and NXS Manufacturer Champions – remains atop both manufacturer points standings.  


·       With its 40 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships, 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships, and 829 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet continues to hold the title of winningest brand in NASCAR.  


·       Fans can visit the Team Chevy Racing Display in the Fan Midway at Darlington Raceway.  

·       Fans can check out an assortment of Chevrolet vehicles including: Silverado 2500HD Crew LTZ Diesel, Camaro ZL1, Silverado 1500 Crew ZR2, Tahoe Z71, Blazer RS, Corvette Z51.

·       At the Chevrolet Display, fans can also view Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Camaro ZL1 show car.


Team Chevy Driver Appearances at the Display:

Saturday, September 3

·       Bayley Currey & Ryan Vargas: 12:00 p.m.

·       Myatt Snider: 12:15 p.m.

·       Jeremy Clements: 12:45 p.m.

·       Josh Berry & Sam Mayer: 1:00 p.m.

·       Kris Wright: 1:15 p.m.


Sunday, September 4

·       Erik Jones: 2:45 p.m.

·       Tyler Reddick: 3:00 p.m.

·       Corey LaJoie: 3:30 p.m.


Chevrolet Display Hours of Operation:  

Saturday, September 3: 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 4: 12 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.    


Tune In: 

USA Network will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 4. Live coverage can also be found on the NBCSports Gold App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.


USA Network will broadcast the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 3. Live coverage can also be found on the NBCSports Gold App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.



How does it feel to be in the playoffs for your first time?

“You know, I woke up on Monday morning and felt the same I have all year. I am glad about that because I was wondering if once Daytona was over if I would feel different because it’s the start of the playoffs. I feel like I’ve had a normal week so far and I’m staying in my routine. My routine is what has gotten me to this point, and I am looking forward to continuing that.”


Have you received advice from anyone on how to handle the playoffs?

“I’ve gotten a lot of advice and a lot of opinions from people that genuinely want to help.


I’m not going to make major changes though. There’s things I would like to clean up and make better, but ideally, the most egregious thing we do out of the ordinary this week is have a team lunch to kick off the playoffs.”


Darlington is one of your better tracks, maybe even your best track. How does that make you feel about this weekend and it being the first race of the playoffs?

“Driving the 2.5 hours home back to Mooresville after Darlington is frustrating because you realize that you could’ve won if a couple of things went different or if you would would’ve asked for this one adjustment. In my experience, I think about how I’ve over driven Darlington. You really do have to go slow to go fast, but as a racecar driver, that’s hard to do. We had a fast car there in the spring but everyone has had time to work on their setups and we’ll have to go there and perform again.”



What are your thoughts on Darlington Raceway?

“I’ve always loved Darlington Raceway. It’s a historic track and a lot of drivers and teams circle it at the beginning of the year as a place they would love to win at, myself included. We finished second at Darlington a couple of years ago. It’s a demanding track. Darlington is a place that falls off, so tire management becomes important, and I really like that. It’s nice that we’re going to place that long run speed matters a bit.”


Does making the NASCAR Playoffs give you a sense of validation?

“I think every time you make the NASCAR Playoffs, it’s validation to yourself that you’re one of the guys. We’ve made it five times now. I don’t know how many years I’ve been doing this, but every time you’re not in it, it doesn’t feel good. You’re not going to the banquet at the end of the year. You feel like you let your guys down. You feel like you let your company down. For me, it’s everything. It feels good to get a chance to compete for a championship. I did feel like we should have been locked into the Playoffs earlier than this, but it doesn’t matter how you get in, you got in. 15 different winners this year. That’s a testament to this NextGen car and how competitive the field is. I don’t think there’s any other form of motorsports that has this type of competitiveness week-in and week-out. Take Watkins Glen, for instance, and the spread from first to 20th. You look at the time sheet, and you are holding your break for a hundredth to move you up five sports. It’s what the NASCAR Cup Series is supposed to be. It’s challenging. You never give up, and that’s been the theme of this season.”


Now that you are locked into the NASCAR Playoffs, how do you feel about the first round?

“Actually, the first round has historically been a good round for us on the No. 3 team. We’ve done a good job of upsetting some teams in that first round. Darlington Raceway is a good place for me, so it’s a great starting point. I think we finished second at that track the last time I was in the Playoffs, so I feel good about Darlington. We’ve got to improve on what we took there earlier this year. When those long runs happen at Darlington and the tires wear out, I feel like that’s some of the best driving I do. Kansas Speedway was a decent track for us earlier this year. We’re just going to have to go to work and work really, really hard on the SIM at Chevrolet and at RCR. It won’t be from a lack of effort over the next three weeks to progress and try to get another win.”



Larson on Darlington Raceway and the Round of 16:

“We had a really fast car last time before we had trouble. The first round has a lot of really good tracks for us. Darlington (Raceway), Kansas (Speedway) and Bristol (Motor Speedway). Those are honestly three of my best racetracks. I really like that round and hopefully we can do well in it and get some wins and get some bonus points. I have always run really well at Darlington, but have not gotten a win there yet. I finished second three times in a row before this year, so would love to be one spot better there and finally get that Darlington win that I have been close to getting.”



Daniels on the challenge of setting a car up for Darlington:

“It drives me crazy trying to set the car up but Darlington (Raceway) is hands down my favorite track on the circuit with Bristol (Motor Speedway) probably close behind that. Darlington is such a challenge. The track itself, how to race it, how to run your own race, executing the pit stops and the green-flag strategy. Everything around Darlington is a true, gritty, racer-type feel to the track and race – it just has that aura. I enjoy it but I am pulling my hair out every second of the day trying to get it right, have a good plan and have a good car to do the things we need to do but that is part of what makes it fun.”



Elliott on this weekend’s “DESI9N TO DRIVE” paint scheme and program:

“Partnering with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has been going on for about five years now, but last year was the first year we kind of brought it to life on track. That came through an opportunity with NAPA AUTO PARTS, which is my primary sponsor and has been a great partner. When you have a partner that is willing to give up its race to let someone design the car, get behind the foundation and try to make a difference in the community, I think that really says a lot. You don’t see that very often. I’m looking forward to having Dani, the young lady that designed the car, and her family at the track this weekend and hosting them. I’m hoping everyone loves that paint scheme as much as I do.”


Elliott on kicking off the playoffs in Darlington:

“Darlington (Raceway) is the beginning of a long road ahead. A lot can happen in 10 weeks. A lot can happen in one race weekend, much less 10. So, you know, it’s baby steps and one weekend at a time. Darlington is that first stop and you want to try to get off on a good note and see where it takes you. We’re happy to have those 15 bonus points. We’ve never been in a position to have many bonus points going into the final 10. Hopefully, we can take those points we’ve accumulated and help us get through these rounds. Hopefully, we don’t need them, but if you do have a bad day, you have a little bit of something to fall back on which is always nice. I’m looking forward to getting going and seeing where we stack up this first week and where we need to go from there.”



Byron on his thoughts for the first race of the playoffs:

“I’m optimistic heading back to Darlington (Raceway) for the second time this year. We had the speed we needed in the spring to be in the lead when it mattered. The fall race is always a challenge though when it comes to heat and the transition throughout the race. I’m confident in Rudy (Fugle) and my team, though, that we’ll be prepared for every scenario. Getting off on the right foot for the first race of the playoffs is crucial so you’re not feeling like you are trying to play catch-up throughout the round. If we put together solid races and control the factors we can control, I think we can end the race with a win or at least a good result, which will set us up well for the next two races.”



Fugle on what he expects from Sunday’s race:

“We ran well in the spring race at Darlington (Raceway) but this weekend’s race will be about as different as can be. It’s a longer race for starters, so there will be a bigger emphasis on strategy, especially with how high tire fall off is there. Sunday’s race is going to be much hotter than it was earlier this year. I do think we have some good notes to work off of since this race starts in the daytime. The biggest thing will be making changes to keep up with the track as it transitions from day to night. I think whoever keeps up with those changes the best will be the ones who find themselves running up front towards the end. Hopefully that’s the No. 24 team and we can kick off the first race of the playoffs with a good run.”



“Darlington is one of my favorite racetracks, if not my most favorite, that we go to. It makes a unique challenge for the drivers to race through all 500 miles, and I always look forward to having the opportunity of racing at one of the oldest, most historic venues in our sport. I think that we have a chance to continue our momentum at a track that I’ve ran well at in the past, so hopefully we will have our best day of the year yet.”



Bowman on making the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year with Hendrick Motorsports:

“I am super happy to make the playoffs again and I think it shows the strength of our organization. We have a lot of really smart people working on our cars and giving me the best equipment each weekend to go out there and compete for wins. Greg (Ives) and myself have made the playoffs every season we have been together, and I am looking forward to getting another shot to compete for a championship.”



Ives on going into his last playoffs as a crew chief:

“It’s bittersweet for me. Obviously, I have had a lot of success in the past, but this is my last shot to get a Cup Series championship. I think we have the team capable of contending every weekend and a driver that can get it done. We just have to continue to work hard, stay focused on each weekend and capitalize on every opportunity we get. I have enjoyed my career as a crew chief, and I will take in every moment as I close out this season.”



After waiting since June, are you ready for the playoffs?

“I am. Let’s hammer down.”


What is your strategy?

“I don’t know if you have a strategy other than to do the same things you have been doing all year that got you to this place. You have to drive smart, learn as much as you can and make no mistakes.”


Are you entering the playoffs with momentum?

“Things were looking good Sunday before the rain on the track in Daytona ended our race. We ran pretty good at Watkins Glen. My team has been improving all year so we feel very confident.”