<
>

Good, Bad and Ugly: Driver trends at Darlington

5/9/2008

Mark Garrow provides driver trends for Saturday's Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway.

* A driver with an asterisk next to his name needs to qualify for the race based on time.

A.J. Allmendinger*

• Allmendinger has one start at Darlington, finishing 36th in this race last year.

John Andretti*

• In 19 starts here, Andretti has a top-5, four top-10s, six Did Not Finishes (DNFs) and an average finish of 22.3.

Greg Biffle

• Biffle has seven starts here, with two wins, three top-10s and an average finish of 10.7.

• He is driving RK-546, the same car he drove to a third-place finish in Las Vegas earlier this season. He likes this car, and it has a good history.

Dave Blaney*

• Blaney has made 11 Cup Series starts at the 1.366-mile track during his career, and the veteran driver has started as high as 10th (2003) and finished as high as third (also 2003). Blaney has scored just that one top-5 finish at the Darlington track.

Clint Bowyer

• Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 192 this weekend. This is the same Jack Daniel's Chevrolet Impala SS Bowyer raced to a third-place finish in March at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bowyer raced this car, which was built for 2007, eight times last season. He recorded one pole, one top-five and four top-10 finishes. It's a good car.

• In two previous Sprint Cup Series starts at the track, Bowyer has a second-place average start and a 16th-place average finish.

Jeff Burton

• Burton will pilot chassis No. 224 this weekend. Burton drove this car to a 12th-place finish (California) and a third-place finish (Martinsville).

• In 25 Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, Burton has posted two wins, eight top-5s and 14 top-10s, with just one DNF and only three finishes outside the top 20.

• According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Burton is the sport's second-best Green Flag Passer at Darlington Raceway.

Kurt Busch

• Busch has one top-5 finish and four top-10s in 11 races at Darlington.

• His average finish here is 18.1. He has completed 96.4 percent of the total possible laps here and has led 182.

Kyle Busch

• Busch's career-best finish at Darlington Raceway is seventh. His average finish is 22.3 here.

• He is on a roll with four top-10s, three top-5s and a win in the past four races. His average finish over that span is 4.0.

Patrick Carpentier*

• This is Carpentier's first trip to Darlington Raceway. He has been preparing for the track by utilizing a race simulator, watching races and even reading up on the history of the track.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

• In 13 starts at Darlington, Junior has recorded two top-5 finishes and six top-10s.

• His average finish here is 15.0.

Carl Edwards

• Edwards makes his fifth Cup start at Darlington this weekend. In his previous four starts, Edwards has one top-5 and three top-10 finishes.

• He is racing chassis RK-540, the same car in which he won at California earlier this season.

Bill Elliott

• Elliott has 51 career starts here, with 35 top-10s, 22 top-5s, five wins, four DNFs and an average finish of 9.0.

• His past five starts here have resulted in top-10 finishes, though he hasn't raced here since 2003.

David Gilliland

• Gilliland has only two career starts at Darlington Raceway -- one Sprint Cup Series and one Nationwide Series.

Jeff Gordon

• In 27 starts at Darlington, Gordon has seven wins -- including five Southern 500 victories -- three poles, 15 top-5s and 18 top-10s.

• Gordon is the defending winner of this event.

• His average finish here is 11.8 with six DNFs.

Robby Gordon

• Gordon has 12 starts at Darlington, with one top-5 finish. His average finish here is 24.2 with two DNFs.

Denny Hamlin

• Hamlin will be making his third Cup start at Darlington Raceway this weekend.

• Last season, Hamlin led 178 laps before a dropped lug nut on pit road forced him back to 15th place with only 65 laps to go. He recovered to finish second, but he definitely chalked up this race in the "missed opportunity" category.

• In his 2006 Cup debut at Darlington, Hamlin ran in the top five for the first half of the race before handling issues and a cooling track pushed him back to a 10th-place.

• Overall, Hamlin has secured top-10 finishes in all six races -- both Nationwide and Sprint Cup -- he has started at Darlington.

Kevin Harvick

• In 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Darlington, Harvick has earned two top-5s and four top-10 finishes. His average finish is 19.2.

Sam Hornish Jr.

• Hornish has never raced at Darlington. He is preparing to make his fifth intermediate-track start in Cup Series competition. Thus far, he has an average starting position of 21.2 and an average finish of 35.6 at tracks that are more than a mile but less than two miles in length.

Jimmie Johnson

• In nine starts at Darlington, Johnson has scored two victories, five top-5s and eight top-10 finishes. He has also completed 99.9% of total competition laps (3,082 out of 3,084).

• The 1,401 points that Johnson has accumulated over the past nine Darlington races is the most by any driver.

• His average Darlington starting spot is 9.7 and average finish is 6.8.

Kasey Kahne

• In five starts at Darlington, Kahne has accumulated three poles and two top-5 finishes and led 125 laps.

• Kahne has an average start of fourth and an average finish of 12th at Darlington.

Matt Kenseth

• In 14 starts at Darlington, Kenseth has achieved one top-5, five top-10 and six top-15 finishes. Kenseth's average start here is 21.9 and his average finish is 19.4.

Travis Kvapil

• Kvapil has an average starting position of 17.5 and an average finish of 32.5 at Darlington.

Bobby Labonte

• Labonte has 27 starts here, with one win, 11 top-10s, five top-5s and an average finish of 15.0 and three DNFs.

• He has completed 94.3 percent of the total possible laps and has led 127.

• He has finished in the top 15 in two of the past three races.

Sterling Marlin*

• Marlin has 45 starts here with 16 top-10s, 10 top-5s, two wins, 11 DNFs and an average finish of 18.1.

Mark Martin

• Martin's 25 top-10 finishes and 16 top-5s are the most of any active driver at Darlington.

• He has finished inside the top eight in five of the past seven races at Darlington.

Michael McDowell

• McDowell is making his first start at Darlington this weekend.

• He has run five Sprint Cup races by now, with average finish of 31.8, and he's been 33rd or worse in three of the past four.

Jamie McMurray

• In six starts at Darlington, Jamie McMurray has two top-5s and three top-10 finishes.

• Darlington ranks as McMurray's third-best qualifying track, and his fifth-best overall track on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Casey Mears

• Mears has seven starts here with an average finish of 28.7 and one DNF.

Paul Menard

• Menard has one start at Darlington, finishing 31st last year.

• His average finish this year is 22.1, and he has no DNFs.

Juan Pablo Montoya

• Montoya has one start here, finishing 23rd last year.

Joe Nemechek*

• Nemechek has 23 starts here with two top-10s, four DNFs and an average finish of 24.1.

Ryan Newman

• He has one pole, five top-5s and six top-10 finishes at Darlington Raceway. His best finish was a second-place effort in the fall of 2002.

• Newman was one of three NASCAR Cup Series drivers who participated in a three-day Goodyear tire test at the freshly paved Darlington Raceway in March. This experience was like getting a free test session.

Kyle Petty*

• Petty has 50 starts here with five top-10s, 16 DNFs and an average finish of 22.3.

• Petty has completed 85.7 percent of the total possible laps here and has led 21.

David Ragan

• Ragan visited Darlington Raceway once in 2007 Cup competition; he qualified 24th and finished 27th.

David Reutimann

• Reutimann has one Cup start at Darlington. He finished 33rd as a result of an engine failure.

Scott Riggs

• Riggs has four starts here, with all four finishes being worse than 25th.

• He has an average finish of 30.5 here.

Elliott Sadler

• Sadler has made 15 starts at Darlington, earning one pole, two top-5s and four top-10s.

• Four of his past seven starts have been in the top 5; six in the top 10.

Johnny Sauter*

• Sauter has three starts here, with finishes of 26th and 29th (twice).

Regan Smith

• Smith is making his first start at Darlington in the Cup Series this weekend.

• He has been the top-finishing rookie in five of the 10 races run to date in 2008.

Reed Sorenson

• Sorenson will be making his sixth career start at Darlington Raceway, with a best finish of 11th.

Tony Stewart

• Stewart has 15 starts here, with eight top-10s, two top-5s, one DNF and an average finish of 11.9.

• He finished sixth in this race last year.

Martin Truex Jr.

• Truex has two starts at Darlington with finishes of 14th and 11th, respectively.

• He has completed all of the total possible laps here.

Brian Vickers

• Vickers has five starts here with an average finish of 28.8 and one DNF.

• His last two finishes here have been 41st or worse.

Michael Waltrip

• Waltrip will start in his 42nd race at Darlington. His best start is sixth and his best finish is third.

• During his career at Darlington, Waltrip has earned three top-5s, eight top-10s and 25 top-25 finishes.

J.J. Yeley*

• Yeley has two starts here, with finishes of 26th and 18th, respectively.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.