The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin Sunday night, and racing fans have a big question: Will Kyle Larson continue his winning path during the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina?
Larson leads the Cup Series with five wins on the season. Those victories helped him jump to first place in the regular season standings and contributed to his early lead in the playoff standings. He has 2,052 points to his name, while Ryan Blaney is second with 2,024.
Now, Larson will be looking for his biggest win yet. A win in Sunday’s Southern 500 would secure him a spot in the Round of 12, as it would for any of the 16 playoff drivers. So would a win in either of the next two first-round races, the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond and the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol.
Five drivers on this year’s playoff field have won the Southern 500 before: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have won the event once, while Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have won it twice each. including a win during the 2020 playoffs for Harvick. Additionally, 2019 Southern 500 winner Erik Jones will be in the field of 37 cars, although he is not one of 16 drivers who qualified for the playoffs.
Still, Larson will face stiff competition in the race, lasting 367 laps on Darlington’s 1,366-mile oval track. He will run a total of 501,322 miles.
Sporting News is tracking live updates and lap-by-lap highlights from the NASCAR playoff race at Darlington on Sunday night. Follow for complete Southern 500 results.
NASCAR at Darlington Live Updates, Southern 500 Highlights
(All the eastern time).
6:28 pm – Caution 1 (Lap 17). Alex Bowman crashed into the wall a bit amid some problems with the electrical systems. It also grazed William Byron’s right front bumper.
6:25 pm – Throughout 10 laps, Ryan Blaney remains in the lead. He has led all 10 laps as a pole-sitter.
6:24 pm – Alex Bowman is dealing with some electrical issues. He’s still in the top five, but that could get him some trouble. It will be interesting to see if you can fix that when you head to the pit row.
6:22 pm – Michael McDowell (14th in the playoffs standings) came close to hitting another car during the first inning. He managed to control his car enough to avoid it.
6:20 pm – We are underway in Darlington. Pole sitter Ryan Blaney leads after one lap.
6:17 pm – The cars are moving down the track behind the safety car. Ryan Blaney is on pole, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.
6:11 pm – The engines have been started. It won’t be long until the race starts.
6:09 pm – Two playoff drivers, Tyler Reddick and Denny Hamlin, participated in the Xfinity Series race at Darlington yesterday. Reddick finished in seventh place, while Hamlin finished in twelfth place.
6:00 pm – Pre-race ceremonies are underway!
5:58 pm – We are almost ready to run. NBC’s pre-race coverage is ongoing and the Southern 500 is officially scheduled to begin in 20 minutes, at 6:18 p.m. ET.
5:52 pm – Speaking of Elliott, he’s the reigning NASCAR Cup champion. He raced from pole in last year’s Southern 500, but finished 20th during the race.
5:45 pm – Chase Elliott drives the No. 9 car at Darlington. The design was chosen as part of the Chase Elliott Foundation “Desi9n To Drive” competition benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It features a paint scheme designed by Mary Frances Webb, a 15-year-old receiving cancer treatment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Chase Elliott’s paint scheme designed by 15-year-old Mary Frances Webb of Athens, Georgia.
Elliott outline and uniform designed by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta cancer patients in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. pic.twitter.com/AcMyzMonZY
– Alex Andreyev (@AndrejevAlex) September 5, 2021
5:36 pm – Bad news for Austin Dillon: He will start the race at the rear of the group after failing several pre-race inspections. Dillon finished 17th in the NASCAR regular season standings and was the first driver out of the 16-car playoff field.
5:35 pm – Larson is way ahead in the playoff standings right now. His five victories have given him a huge lead in the NASCAR playoff standings.
5:33 pm – Kyle Larson was asked what it was like to make the playoffs as a favorite. “I haven’t thought about it,” he told NBC Sports.
5:30 pm – Race number 72 of the Southern 500 is almost here, and Darlington Raceway looks sleek and ready to race.
NASCAR start time today
- Weather: 6 p.m. ET (TV time)
- Television channel: NBCSN (TSN5 in Canada)
- Live broadcast: NBCSports.com | fuboTV7-day free trial)
The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Darlington Raceway’s 1,366-mile egg-shaped oval is set to fall at 6:18 p.m. ET.
Ideal weather conditions are expected. The National Weather Service Sunday Forecast for Darlington, SC, It is for sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s during the day, and clear skies with lows between 60 and 60 degrees at night.
NASCAR starting lineup at Darlington
Here’s the full NASCAR lineup for Sunday’s playoff race at Darlington Raceway, Cook Out Southern 500.
(Playoff drivers are indicated with a “p-” next to their names.)
|Pos. Start||Driver||Car No.||Team|
|1||p-Ryan Blaney||12||Penske Team|
|2||p-Denny Hamlin||eleven||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||p-Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|4||p-Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|5||p-Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|6||p-Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|7||p-Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|8||p-Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|9||p-Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|10||p-Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|eleven||p-Joey Logano||22||Penske Team|
|12||p-Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|13||p-Christopher Bell||twenty||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|14||p-William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|fifteen||p-Michael McDowell||3. 4||Front row motorsports|
|sixteen||p-Brad Keselowski||2||Penske Team|
|17||Bubba wallace||2. 3||23XI Races|
|18||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|19||Ryan newman||6||Roush Fenway racing|
|twenty||Justin haley||77||Spire Motorsports|
|twenty-one||Austin dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|22||Erik jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|2. 3||Ross Chastain||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|24||Chase briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|25||Corey lajoie||7||Spire Motorsports|
|26||Daniel Suarez placeholder image||99||TrackHouse Racing|
|27||BJ McLeod||78||Live fast motor sports|
|28||Josh bilicki||52||Rick Ware Racing|
|29||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|30||Matt DiBenedetto||twenty-one||Wood Brothers Racing|
|31||Cole custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|32||Anthony Alfredo||38||Front row motorsports|
|33||Cody Ware||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|3. 4||Chris buescher||17||Roush Fenway racing|
|35||Joey gas||fifteen||Rick Ware Racing|
|36||James davison||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|37||what houff||00||StarCom Racing|
NASCAR playoff standings
The Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington is the first of three races in Round 16. The other races are the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond on September 11 and the Bass Pro Shops Night Race in Bristol on September 18. the field will be reduced to 12 drivers after Bristol.
|1||Kyle larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports||2052|
|2||Ryan blaney||12||Penske Team||2024|
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing||2024|
|4||Kyle busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing||2022|
|5||Chase elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports||2021|
|6||Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports||2015.|
|7||Denny Hamlin||eleven||Joe Gibbs Racing||2015.|
|8||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports||2014|
|9||Joey logano||22||Penske Team||2013|
|10||Brad Keselowski||2||Penske Team||2008|
|eleven||Kurt busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing||2008|
|12||Christopher bell||twenty||Joe Gibbs Racing||2005|
|13||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing||2005|
|14||Michael McDowell||3. 4||Front row motorsports||2005|
|fifteen||Tyler reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing||2003|
|sixteen||Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing||2002|
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.