CONCORD, N.C. – The NASCAR Cup Series heads back to Darlington Raceway for the 73rd running of the Southern 500. Sunday's race will mark the beginning of the playoffs. This final ten-race stretch will ultimately crown the 2022 Cup Series champion in November.

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Darlington Raceway’s crown-jewel event boasts a rich history on the Cup Series calendar dating all the way back to the first running of the event in 1950. Since then, the facility has hosted Cup Series racing at least once every year with the Southern 500 traditionally taking place on Sunday evening of Labor Day weekend.

The track has earned the nickname of "Too Tough Too Tame" due to its unique makeup. The racetrack resembles more of an egg-shaped design due to a minnow pond located outside of turn four. When the facility was constructed, the architect of the facility, Harold Brasington, promised the pond's owner that the track wouldn't disturb the minnow pond. That forced workers to build a much sharper turns three and four as opposed to the longer and more gradual turns one and two. The result is a very challenging racetrack that forces drivers to be on the edge of control during the heat of competition.

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Saturday afternoon will see a familiar face return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Kyle Larson behind the wheel at Darlington Raceway in the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro. The Elk Grove, California, native was successful in his last trip to the series, taking the checkered flag at Watkins Glen International.

As for the Cup Series, the sport's top series has already made one stop to the South Carolina track this season with Chase Elliott leading the Hendrick Motorsports quartet with a fifth-place finish. While his teammate William Byron was credited with a 13th-place result, the 24-year-old driver was leading the race with two laps to go before late-race contact from Joey Logano. Byron led 24 laps in the race prior to the bump in the closing laps.

After qualifying on the front row and pacing the field for 30 laps, Larson and the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 suffered a mechanical issue that put a premature end to their day. With 37 laps to go in the race, Alex Bowman and the Ally Racing team also suffered a mechanical issue that also ended their day earlier than expected.

This weekend's race marks the start of the playoffs and all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers enter with a chance at taking home the championship. Elliott enters the first round of the playoffs fresh off earning his first ever regular season title and the 15 playoff points that come with it. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is the highest-seeded driver in the playoffs with 2,040 points. Larson is fourth at 2,019 points, Byron is fifth at 2,014 points and Bowman ranks 15th at 2,006 points.

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In its storied history, Hendrick Motorsports has tasted victory at Darlington Raceway 14 times - most among all teams. Jeff Gordon leads the way with seven wins followed by Jimmie Johnson's three triumphs. Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Tim Richmond and Ricky Rudd each claimed one checkered flag at the South Carolina facility.

Sunday's race will also mark a major milestone for the organization as Hendrick Motorsports will become the fourth team to make 1,300 starts in the Cup Series. 

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Here is what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action.


Xfinity Series practice will kick off the on-track activity for Saturday, Sept. 3 at 10:05 a.m. ET with single-lap qualifying taking place at 10:35 a.m. ET. Both events will be on the NBC Sports App. Larson is slated to be the first to qualify.

Cup Series group practice will take place on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 12:05 p.m. ET with coverage on the NBC Sports AppUSA Network will join coverage in progress at 12:30 p.m. ET Group qualifying will follow practice and begin at 12:50 p.m. ET on USA Network. Larson and Elliott are in Group A, while Byron and Bowman are in Group B.


The Xfinity Series race is set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 3, and will also be on USA Network

The Cup Series race is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 4, and will be broadcast on USA Network


Both races will be on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).


Yes. Download the NBC Sports App for online coverage. Fans can also keep up with the action on Twitter by following @TeamHendrick.  

Data provided by Racing Insights

5: Playoff appearances from Bowman in his career. The 29-year-old driver has made the playoffs with Hendrick Motorsports every season since he began driving full-time for the team in 2018.

6.11: Byron’s average running position during the first race at Darlington in 2022. This result was his fifth-best average running position of the season to date.

8.89: Larson’s average finish at Darlington in his career - second-best among all drivers with at least two starts there. The Elk Grove, California, native has also led 686 laps at the South Carolina facility, the third-most of any track on the schedule.

11.875: Average four tire pit stop time from Elliott’s pit crew. That time is the fourth-best average in the Cup Series.

53: The number of races Hendrick Motorsports has won in the playoffs - the most of any team.