DARLINGTON, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s almost time to drop the flag on the chase! On Sunday, Darlington Raceway hosts the first race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
“You’re in the playoffs for one reason, to compete for a championship. And that’s Phoenix,” said Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 car for Stewart-Haas Racing.
But first, 16 of NASCAR’s best must try to subdue the Track To Tough to Tame this weekend in Darlington. The Cook Out Southern 500 will kick off the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and give Darlington Raceway its first-ever appearance in NASCAR’s current playoff format.
Back in May, all eyes were on the track as Darlington hosted the first live sporting event since the beginning of the pandemic. Something Joey Logano says NASCAR should be proud of.
“There wasn’t any other content out there at the time for a sporting perspective,” Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 car for Team Penske said. “I love the term when people say, ‘When there’s a crisis, there’s an opportunity.’ We took advantage of that opportunity and there’s some pride in that and we should be proud of that.”
Fast forward and now rookies like Cole Custer, NASCAR’s 2020 Rookie of the Year, enter a do or die postseason with one of the most difficult tracks in NASCAR up first on the docket.
Cole Custer: “Even though we’ve been to tracks like Darlington before, some of these guys have been there for 10 to 15 years,” said Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 car for Stewart-Haas Racing. “There is stuff as a rookie that we’d like to try on our car to see if it was better or worse. But, we didn’t really have that opportunity so we make our best-educated guess on what we brought there last time, what our teammates did and what we’ve compiled through this whole year of what works and what doesn’t work.”
For more veteran drivers like Kurt Busch, they realize how much Darlington Raceway means to the sport. Busch says a victory on Sunday to kick off the postseason would mean everything.
Kurt Busch: “It would mean the world to me,” admitted Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 1 for Chip Ganassi Racing. “It’s a track that I really enjoy running. I feel like I’m really competitive there but I haven’t won. It’s one of the challenges where you love it and you hate it but for me, I definitely want this crowned jewel race. I want to put this trophy up on the mantle alongside my Daytona win and a 600 win.”
The second half of the field will take part in the virtual media day on Thursday. WMBF News will have live team coverage from the Lady In Black starting on Friday.