NASCAR at Darlington: Entry list, watch info, TV schedule for Southern 500

The 2023 NASCAR playoffs are set to begin this weekend at Darlington Raceway

Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s playoff time.

After 26 regular season races, the 2023 NASCAR playoffs will begin this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Sixteen drivers will begin their quest for a title, while 20 other competitors will look to play spoiler.

“The Track Too Tough to Tame” has hosted Cup Series races annually since 1950, when Johnny Mantz won the inaugural Southern 500 on Labor Day. Seventy-three years later, the Labor Day Weekend tradition continues for one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.

Here’s everything you need to know for the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington:

What is the NASCAR at Darlington entry list?

Thirty-six drivers will race at Darlington. The 32 full-timers will all compete, plus four others.

Two of those four are part-time veterans J.J. Yeley and B.J. McLeod, who have each made at least 15 Cup starts this season. Ryan Newman, an 18-time race winner in the Cup Series, will make his fourth start of the season, while Truck Series regular Carson Hocevar is set for his second career Cup start.

Here’s the full entry list for Darlington (car numbers, driver names, team names and sponsors):

  • No. 1, Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing, Unishippers
  • No. 2, Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Discount Tire
  • No. 3, Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Morgan & Morgan
  • No. 4, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Mobil 1
  • No. 5, Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports,
  • No. 6, Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, Solomon Plumbing
  • No. 7, Corey LaJoie, Spire Motorsports, Gainbridge
  • No. 8, Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, McLaren Custom Grills
  • No. 9, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts
  • No. 10, Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Smithfield
  • No. 11, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Sport Clips
  • No. 12, Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards
  • No. 14, Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing,
  • No. 15, J.J. Yeley, Rick Ware Racing
  • No. 16, A.J. Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing, Action Industries
  • No. 17, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing,
  • No. 19, Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops
  • No. 20, Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Yahoo!
  • No. 21, Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Motorcraft
  • No. 22, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell/Pennzoil
  • No. 23, Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, McDonald’s
  • No. 24, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Liberty University
  • No. 31, Justin Haley, Kaulig Racing, LeafFilter Gutter Protection
  • No. 34, Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports, StageFront.VIP
  • No. 38, Todd Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports, Quincy Compressor
  • No. 41, Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing,
  • No. 42, Carson Hocevar, Legacy Motor Club, Sunseeker Resort
  • No. 43, Erik Jones, Legacy Motor Club, Allegiant
  • No. 45, Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Jordan Brand
  • No. 47, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Kroger
  • No. 48, Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Financial
  • No. 51, Ryan Newman, Rick Ware Racing, Parts Plus
  • No. 54, Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Monster Energy
  • No. 77, Ty Dillon, Spire Motorsports, Raze Energy
  • No. 78, B.J. McLeod, Live Fast Motorsports, Affliction
  • No. 99, Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing, Freeway Insurance

When is the NASCAR race at Darlington this weekend?

The Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington is set for Sunday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m. ET.

Before the race on Sunday, there will be practice and qualifying sessions. The 36-car field will be split into two groups, with each group practicing for 15 minutes on Saturday at 12:35 p.m. ET.

Qualifying will start immediately after practice, around 1:20 p.m. ET. Each car from the two practice groups will make a single lap in the first round, with the five fastest times in each group advancing to the final round. In the final round, the remaining drivers each make a single lap to set the top 10 starting order, while positions 11 through 36 will be set based on first round times.

NASCAR TV schedule for Darlington this weekend

Saturday, Sept. 2 (USA Network and streaming online)

Sunday, Sept. 3 (USA Network, Peacock and streaming online)

  • NASCAR Countdown to Green: 5:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
  • Cook Out Southern 500: 6 p.m. ET, USA Network,
  • NASCAR Post Show: 10:20 p.m. ET, Peacock

NASCAR playoff standings entering Darlington

The 16-driver playoff field was finalized after an eventful regular season finale at Daytona last weekend, with Wallace claiming the final spot. Darlington is the first race in the Round of 16 as drivers have three weeks to secure their position in the Round of 12.

Here’s the playoff standings entering Darlington:

1. William Byron, 2,036 points

2. Martin Truex Jr., 2,036 points

3. Denny Hamlin, 2,025 points

4. Chris Buescher, 2,021 points

5. Kyle Busch, 2,019 points

6. Kyle Larson, 2,017 points

7. Christopher Bell, 2,014 points

8. Ross Chastain, 2,011 points

9. Brad Keselowski, 2,010 points

10. Tyler Reddick, 2,009 points

11. Joey Logano, 2,008 points

12. Ryan Blaney, 2,008 points

13. Michael McDowell, 2,007 points

14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2,005 points

15. Kevin Harvick, 2,004 points

16. Bubba Wallace, 2,000 points

You can find a full explanation of NASCAR’s playoff format right here.

NASCAR Darlington past winners, race history

No active driver has had more success at Darlington than Hamlin. He’s a four-time Darlington winner, most recently in the 2021 Southern 500.

Jones – who has struggled this season for Legacy Motor Club – is the defending Southern 500 winner, while Byron visited victory lane at the South Carolina track earlier this season in May.

Hamlin (2010, 2017, 2020, 2021), Harvick (2014, twice in 2020), Truex (2016, 2021) and Jones (2019, 2022) are the active drivers with multiple Darlington wins. Byron (2023), Logano (2022), Keselowski (2018) and Busch (2008) have one victory apiece.

NASCAR at Darlington favorites, picks to win

Darlington’s unique, egg-shaped design gives drivers and crew chiefs a true challenge every year. At 1.366 miles with a worn-out surface, it’s unlike any other track of the schedule.

As aforementioned, Hamlin is traditionally the man to beat at Darlington. He leads all active drivers in wins (4), average finish (7.7) and driver rating (106.8) with zero DNFs in 22 starts.

Harvick has also shined at the track, especially in recent years. The 46-year-old veteran has three wins, 12 top-fives and 14 top-10s in his last 15 Darlington starts dating back to 2013. Still looking for a win in his final season before retiring, Harvick could be a threat on Sunday.

Beyond Hamlin and Harvick, the drivers with the best average finishes at Darlington include Larson (10.2 in 11 starts), Keselowski (11.7 in 19 starts), Jones (12.0 in 11 starts) and Reddick (12.5 in eight starts).

What is the weather for Darlington, S.C. this weekend?

After Hurricane Idalia passed through Darlington this week, NBC Washington is predicting a clear weekend for racing. There’s a 7% chance of rain on Saturday for practice and qualifying with mostly sunny skies and a high of 82 degrees. On Sunday, there’s a 7% chance of rain, a high of 88 degrees and sunny skies. Keep up to date with the latest forecast right here.

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