Ford Performance – Darlington Raceway 1 Advance

The three major NASCAR series schedules converge for the first time in nearly a month at one of its most storied and long-standing racetracks as Darlington Raceway hosts its annual Throwback Weekend. Darlington debuted in the Cup Series in 1950, and Ford has been deeply rooted in the 70-plus year relationship, earning its first victory in 1956 and, most recently, during Joey Logano’s 2022 championship season.

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Joey Logano: “It’s one of the best races of the year. It’s the environment of the throwback and all the cool cars that come out, which I think is fun for the fans and really competitors as well to see that. But the race itself, it’s just fun. You get a lot of tire wear, slipping and sliding hard, you’re up against the wall. It’s one of the best races we have all year.”

Kevin Harvick: “Well, Darlington is just a unique racetrack because of its shape and how narrow it is. You add in the element of racing the racetrack, that’s a real statement there. A lot of times if you can just keep the car off the wall and stay out of trouble, keeping it on the lead lap, you’re going to put yourself in position for a decent day. It’s a different style of race and much more old school just because of the fact that you have to be aware of keeping yourself out of trouble and just making laps. Darlington has been one of those tracks that’s been a part of our sport for a long time. It’s unique because it has the same shape and width of how the sport was for 50-60 years – to be able to be relevant to how they used to race there.”

Ryan Blaney: “When we started doing that a handful of years ago, it was pretty unique to see what everyone rolls out and some special schemes. I kind of wish no one put out what they were going to unload until the weekend. I think that would be kind of cool if you got the surprise when everyone rolls in with their trailers. It’s really sweet to have dad’s nineties car from the [World of] Outlaws deal on our car this year. But I like walking down and seeing all the schemes, and it’s cool to see what people come up with. Everything is unique about Darlington. It’s super narrow, the bends are way different – especially now, with it repaved in Turns 1 and 2. It’s a place when you look at it, you’re like, ‘How the heck are we going to race on this thing?’ It’s two lanes wide, and you figure out a way. Just a lot of history there, and I’d say it’s up there for one of the most unique places we go to.”

Todd Gilliland: “I think it’s really cool. I just like the whole throwback style weekend. I think it fits Darlington so well, and especially for us, to have Serial 1 on-board for the Elton Sawyer throwback is really cool to me. Getting to know Elton more and more the last couple years in the Cup series – that’s the best part, getting to know all these people in NASCAR. To be able to honor him this year is really cool.”


Joey Logano passed William Byron with two laps to go to win last year’s Goodyear 400 for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and first at Darlington Raceway. Logano dominated the Throwback Weekend, capturing the pole on Saturday and then winning the first stage before green flag pit stops and race strategy took over. He ended up leading eight times for 107 laps, most among all drivers, and dueled with Byron for the win over the final 26 laps.



Nobody enjoyed a return to Darlington in 2020 more than Kevin Harvick, who celebrated the sport’s return to competition by winning his 50th career series race in what turned out to be the first of three NASCAR Cup Series races held at the track dubbed ‘Too Tough to Tame.’ Harvick led 159-of-293 laps and once he passed fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski on lap 216, he never trailed again. That marked the first of two Darlington wins on the season for Harvick, who captured the annual Southern 500 in the fall.



Brad Keselowski was at the forefront of consecutive 1-2 Ford finishes when he swept the NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Cup Series fall Darlington weekend in 2018. 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.



It comes as no surprise that the Wood Brothers are Ford’s all-time winningest team at Darlington Raceway, posting eight career victories. All but one of those triumphs came in a Mercury, which the team ran in the 1960’s and 70’s. David Pearson, who holds the record with 10 career Darlington Cup victories, led the way with six while Cale Yarborough captured the team’s first in 1968.  The last Darlington win for Wood Brothers Racing came in 1981 when Neil Bonnett took the Southern 500 in 1981 behind the wheel of a Ford.



David Pearson holds the record for most 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.


The first time Ford won a 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 it in record fashion with an average race speed of 95.167 mph.



Mark Martin is Darlington’s all-time winningest driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, having won eight times during his Hall of Fame career. He won 8-of-15 series races from 1993-2000, which included a pair of three-race winning streaks (1993-94, 1999-2000) and consecutive triumphs in 1995-96. Overall, Ford has won 19 times at the Track Too Tough to Tame, including a stretch where Martin (3), Jeff Burton (3) and Jeff Green (1) combined to win seven straight.


Zane Smith and Ty Majeski share the top spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings with 323 points, although Smith is technically the leader because of his two victories. Regardless, both Ford drivers continue to set the pace as each has five top-5 finishes in eight starts this season. Ben Rhodes continues to hold down third place, making this the fifth straight race in which Ford drivers have filled the top three spots in the standings.



Ford has one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at Darlington and it came when Ben Rhodes won the South Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Sept. 6, 2020. Even though he led only four laps, Rhodes took advantage of a late-race caution that resulted in an overtime finish. Running fourth at the time, he stayed out on the track while the top three trucks pitted for tires. Despite being on old tires, Rhodes was able to hold off Dennis Kraus on the final lap and snapped a 48-race winless streak.


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