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NASCAR viewer’s guide: Darlington Raceway

Two-wheel legend Ricky Carmichael loves the challenges the Next Gen car presents in the NASCAR Cup Series by putting a lot of pressure on teams and speaks to the unwritten rules on track and racing etiquette.

NASCAR goes back in time this weekend at Darlington Raceway with the sport’s annual throwback weekend.

Paint schemes similar to those that raced years ago will be plentiful in the Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series this weekend. The Truck race is Friday (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1), the Xfinity race is Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1) and the Cup race is Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Here is a look at the viewer’s guide for this weekend at Darlington:

Who is next?

There have been nine different winners in the first 11 Cup races. Among those who have yet to win this season are former champions Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch.

Drivers who won last year but remain winless this year are Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell, Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell, Bubba Wallace, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Logano and Keselowski.

Age before youth

In a season where Cup drivers under 30 have dominated, it is the veterans who could be the ones to watch at Darlington.

The win by the 26-year-old Chase Elliott at Dover on Monday marked the ninth time in 11 races a driver under 30 has won. The exceptions were Kyle Busch, who turned 37 this week, winning last month on the dirt at Bristol and 41-year-old Denny Hamlin winning at Richmond.

The last five Darlington races have all been won by a driver older than 35 years old. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have won twice each. Martin Truex Jr. won the other race in that stretch. The last driver under 30 to win at Darlington was Erik Jones, who won the 2019 Southern 500 at the age of 23.

For Hamlin to win again at Darlington, he’ll have to do so without crew chief Chris Gabehart and two pit crew members. They were suspended four races each after a wheel came off Hamlin’s car at Dover.

Can hot streak continue?

Kyle Busch goes to Darlington have scored a top-10 finish in each of his last five races. Points leader Chase Elliott has scored a top 10 in each of his last four starts.

Busch is just as good at Darlington. He has six top 10s in his last eight Darlington starts.

Entry lists

Thirty-six cars are on this week’s Cup entry list, meaning none will miss Sunday’s race.

NASCAR Cup Series Entry List -- Darlington Raceway

In the Xfinity Series, 40 cars are on the entry list. Two cars will fail to qualify.

Cup points leader Chase Elliott, coming off his Cup win at at Dover on Monday, will drive the No. 88 for JR Motorsports. It will be his third series start since 2019. Tyler Reddick will drive the No. 48 for Big Machine Racing. John Hunter Nemechek is back in the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Entry List -- Darlington Raceway

In the Camping World Truck Series, 36 trucks are on the entry list.

Ross Chastain is in the No. 41 for Niece Motorsports. Former series champion Todd Bodine will drive the No. 62 for Halmar Friesen Racing. Ryan Preece will drive the No. 17 for Team DGR

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Entry List -- Darlington Raceway

This weekend’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, May 6

Forecast: Cloudy, high around 90 degrees with scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day

  • 3 – 3:30 p.m. — Camping World Truck Series practice (FS1)
  • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. — Camping World Truck Series qualifying (single vehicle, one lap, FS1)
  • 5 – 5:30 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle, one lap, FS1)
  • 7:30 p.m. — Truck race (147 laps/200.1 miles, Motor Racing Network, FS1)

Saturday, May 7

Forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 84 degrees with a stray shower or thunderstorm possible

  • 10:30 - 11:05 a.m. -- Cup practice (FS1)
  • 11:05 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. -- Cup qualifying (Group A & B, single vehicle, one laps, two rounds, MRN, FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. -- Xfinity race (147 laps/200.1 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, May 8

Forecast: Partly cloudy, high near 75 degrees with a slight chance of rain

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (293 laps/400.2 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)