Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for the second-consecutive NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday when the green flag waves at Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400. He also was on the pole last weekend at Kansas Speedway.
NASCAR’s formula for setting race starting grids put manufacturer pairs in each of the first three rows of Sunday’s starting grid. Starting alongside Keselowski on the front row at Darlington will be fellow-Ford driver Kevin Harvick. Harvick heads into Sunday’s race as a three-time Darlington winner, including two of the three races contested there last season.
“It’s been a lot of fun to have been able to win there a few times now,” Harvick said. “As you look at the last race there, winning the Southern 500 and being able to go back to victory lane and celebrate in front of some fans was different from the first time of dead silence. Darlington is one of those historic race tracks that everybody loves going to because of the fact that it’s forever tied to the guys that used to race there with the same shape of the race track. It may be a different surface, but it’s the same race track that they raced on in the 1950s. It’s a unique place to go race and a place that has so much history in our sport.”
Row two on the Darlington grid will be a Toyota row, with last week’s Kansas winner Kyle Busch in the third position, next to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in fourth.
“It’s the 750-horsepower package, so we have run the low downforce at Darlington, which we haven’t done in a while,” Busch said. “I think it was 2018 the last time, and back then, I think we had the movable track bars, so it’s definitely going to be a different race. I feel like running the Xfinity race there last year was the best test for me to know and experience what it’s going to be like this time around in the Cup cars. I tell you what, those cars are a handful. You take the downforce off them and put them on a worn, slick racing surface, and you are going to be slipping and sliding all over the place. You’ll be wanting tires after about seven laps, and you darn well will have to go 40 or 45 laps before you can actually get tires. We’ll see what happens, but we are really looking forward to our M&Ms throwback paint scheme. It’s the throwback celebrating 80 years of the M&Ms brand. Looking forward to carrying those colors and trying to get back to victory lane in back-to-back weeks.”
Hendrick Motorsports William Byron and reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will start in the third row as Chevrolet representatives.
“Darlington is a track that is known for its old, worn-out surface and how hard it is on tires,” Byron said. “You’re always elbows up at that place, but you also have to know when to press forward and when to manage your equipment so you’re not over-taxing your tires. I’ve tried to manage that as best as I can, but that’s what makes Darlington such a tough track. It’s not an easy task while, at the same time, it’s easy to lose focus for a moment and that’s all it takes to end your day. Hopefully, this weekend we’ll have the setup we need, and then, it’s up to me to get the most I can out of the Valvoline Chevy while making sure we’re around in the end of it.”
Other top-10 starters include Denny Hamlin and Matt DiBenedetto in seventh and eighth and Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick in row five in the ninth and 10th positions.
GOODYEAR 400 STARTING LINEUP