SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Hembree discusses NASCAR’S throwback weekend, what makes Darlington Raceway so difficult and drivers who need to win to stay in the playoff hunt.
It’s NASCAR race day at Darlington Raceway, and we’ve got some essential information you need to get ready for Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 Monster Energy Cup Series race:
START TIME: Bojangles’ senior vice president of marketing Randy Poindexter, 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jack Roush and other members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will instruct drivers to start their engines at 6:07 p.m. ET followed by the green flag at at 6:15 p.m. ET.
RACE DISTANCE: The Bojangles’ Southern 500 is 367 laps around the 1.366-mile track for a total of 501 miles.
RACE STAGES: After a successful run last season, NASCAR will once again be dividing races into stages and handing out points. Here are the segments for tonight’s Cup race: Stage 1: 100 laps, Stage 2: 100 laps, Stage 3: 167 laps.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Pop music group Hanson will sing the national anthem at 6:01 p.m. ET followed by a flyover by the Bandit Flight team based in North Carolina.
TV/RADIO SCHEDULE: The race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) starting at 6 p.m. ET, with a pre-show starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. Radio calls can be found on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio.
DARLINGTON: Final playoffs spots on the line Sunday
KESELOWSKI: Warms up with Darlington Xfinity victory
WEATHER: The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatues in the high 80s at the green flag, falling to the low 80s after sundown. There is only a very minimal chance of rain.
LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin led 124 laps and beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch by 2.6 seconds for his second career Cup Series victory at Darlington.
LINEUP: Hamlin, who is still seeking his first win of 2018, continued his recent strong run at Darlington by capturing the pole. Kyle Larson, who is also winless the season, qualified second. Larson has already qualified for the 2018 playoffs on points — the 12th driver who has locked in a berth — while Hamlin — ranked 13th — would be next in line.
Here is the starting lineup for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 (car number in parentheses):
1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota
2. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet
3. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota
4. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet
5. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota
6. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet
7. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota
8. (22) Joey Logano, Ford
9. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford
10. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet
11. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet
12. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford
13. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford
14. (21) Paul Menard, Ford
15. (6) Matt Kenseth, Ford
16. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota
17. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford
18. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet
19. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet
20. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
21. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford
22. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford
23. (38) David Ragan, Ford
24. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet
25. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford
26. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford
27. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet
28. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet
29. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet
30. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford
31. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet
32. (52) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet
33. (15) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet
34. (72) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet
35. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet
36. (66) Timmy Hill, Toyota
37. (51) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet
38. (99) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet
39. (23) Joey Gase, Toyota
40. (96) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota
Follow Horrow on Twitter @EllenJHorrow