Ryan Preece will start on the pole for the Toyota 500K NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway whenever the green flag waves. The race is scheduled for an approximate 6 p.m. ET Wednesday, but a forecast that includes significant chances of inclement weather makes postponement of the race a possibility.
The Toyota 500K is the second-consecutive Cup Series race at Darlington and the second after a 10-race break in the NASCAR schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic. The starting grid for the Toyota 500K was set based on the results of Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400. The top-20, or first half, of the finishing order from Sunday’s race was inverted to determine the top-20 starters for the latest race. Preece finished 20th in The Real Heroes 400.
“I was pretty happy with how our race went on Sunday at Darlington Raceway,” Preece said. “We definitely had speed in our #37 Chevrolet, and earning stage points was huge as we continue to turn our season around from a rough start. Racing on Sunday was really good to build notes for Wednesday night’s race. While the track conditions will be opposite racing at night than it was during the day, we definitely have a lot of things we learned that we can apply. We were really good in turns one and two, but just needed a little bit more front turn in turns three and four. Starting on the pole for the shortened race on Wednesday night will be really important for track position. I’m proud of everyone at the shop and on the road crew for adapting to this new normal and giving us a car we can continue to build on and put on another great race on Wednesday night in our #37 Tide Power Pods Camaro ZL1 1LE.”
Kevin Harvick, who won The Real Heroes 400, will start 20th.
Ty Dillon will start on the front row alongside Preece for the Toyota 500K after finishing 19th Sunday. Behind the all-Chevrolet front row will be Ford drivers Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer in row two and a third Ford driver, Ryan Blaney, in the third row in the fifth starting spot.
Ford drivers will occupy starting positions third through ninth with Ryan Newman in sixth, Matt DiBenedetto seventh, Brad Keselowski eighth and Aric Almirola in ninth. Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon will startin in the 10th position.
The highest-starting Toyota driver will be Erik Jones in 13th. Jones, though, will be without regular crew chief Chris Gayle as a result of Jones #20 Joe Gibbs Racing entry having two unsecured lug nuts after Sunday’s race.
The Toyota 500K starting grid will be bookended by JTG-Daugherty Racing teammates. Preece’s teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start last [39th]. Drivers starting outside the top-20 will start in the positions in which they finished the first Darlington race. Stenhouse wrecked on the first lap of Sunday’s race.
“Well, hopefully, we’ve got that bad luck in the rearview mirror now,” Stenhouse said Monday. “Yesterday’s race, obviously, didn’t go how we had hoped or planned, but the only thing to do now is to keep moving forward. We’ve got a little bit of a challenge ahead of us since we didn’t get any track time on Sunday, but everyone at the shop has worked really hard to get our cars ready and prepped for us to race. Our teammate had solid speed, so we can learn a little bit off of what he was feeling in the car on Sunday and take those notes to apply to our car on Wednesday. Wednesday’s race will be at night, which will affect the setups from Sunday and is a little bit more of what we’re accustomed to racing at Darlington Raceway. We have speed on our intermediate track program on this #47 Kroger Camaro ZL1 1LE, and I’m ready to makeup what we lost on Sunday when we get back to Darlington.”