We’ve made it to the Playoffs, 16 drivers eligible for this year’s championship. Daytona marked the end of the regular season, no real surprises in that one, but Tyler Reddick edged out teammate Austin Dillon on points for the final spot. Most shocking is the reseeded Playoff Standings: Kevin Harvick in 16th with 2002 points, driving for the same team that collected eight trophies and ran all but three laps in 2020.
Here’s what to look for:
-Here’s Harvick already. He took the checkers at last year’s Cook Out Southern 500, and he’ll need to do something like that this year to advance to the next round. Without a Win, he’d need to really be on it and have some luck along the way. This is his best shot to get into the Round of 12, for sure. Happy has far and away the most points at Darlington over the last ten starts; 425 with ten Top 10s and a 3.6 average finish. Wow.
–Martin Truex Jr. won the Spring Race at Darlington this year, that being a 400-mile / daytime affair where we’re running 500 laps tonight under the lights. Different conditions, but ultimately the same track. The same track layout, that is, grip levels and speeds will surely be different.
–Denny Hamlin is our most prolific driver here based on points, and some other flashy numbers to go with it, too. Two Wins, seven Top 10s, and a 9.0 average finish in the last ten races, that’s a solid collection of stats to hang your hat on. Still chasing his first Win of the season, he’s definitely capable and could deliver the goods tonight in the FexEd Toyota.
–Kyle Larson has been the surprise story of the season, and after missing the Back 30 last year, this is the first time he’ll do business at Darlington in the Fall. He’s got some solid numbers here though, and in just seven starts. He’s got six Top 10s to his name, and a 6.0 average finish. What’s more, he’s the regular season Champion, and the #1 “seed” in the Playoffs with a stack of bonus points. He’s the safest driver of the field, and is in really good position to advance.
–Erik Jones also has seven starts here, and six Top 10s also. He’s got a 7.0 average finish, and looks to be up there most of the race. He’s among a star-studded field, and will do what he can to rise above. In a world where the cream rises to the top, this is one of the creamiest Playoff fields we’ve ever had. Haha.
We’re back to Darlington, and my, did we plan for this one:
OH YES, Frogmore Stew Returns! This is the favorite meal that we’ve discovered in all of this stuff, and we even had it once when it wasn’t a NASCAR weekend. Bonus Frogmore Stew! Recently we’d gone with corn, potatoes, andouille, shrimp and scallops. You’ll notice that we’ve added something else this time around, some radical snow crab legs. Great job, Leese! You deserve the best crab leg meat available. I love you.
We at like kings tonight, and we’ll have some steaks tomorrow, too, to close out the weekend. Have a Happy Labor Day, everybody! You deserve it!
Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 6:00pm, green flag scheduled for 6:18pm.