For a time, it looked as if the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway was going to turn into a caution-filled mess.
It ended up becoming a routinely dominant for Martin Truex Jr., who earned his third NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season. No other racer has more than one. Truex not only won every stage at Darlington, but also became the first stage winner to win at the raceway.
Despite his dominance — Truex led 248 of 293 laps — it appeared as if the track would knock out a series of cars early on: Just seven laps in, Aric Almirola crashed his car into the inside wall off Turn 2. Two more racers — Cole Custer and Kurt Busch — ended their races in Stage 2; Custer suffered a similar crash as Almirola on Lap 98, while Busch’s car began leaking fuel on Lap 107.
After that, Darlington saw no more cautions for cause. The closest the race came was after Kyle Larson moved up to second place with 36 laps to go following a Truex green-flag pit stop. He managed to close the distance to under half a second in the closing laps but then fell back in the final laps.
Check out Sporting News’ updates and highlights from the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway:
NASCAR at Darlington live updates, highlights from Goodyear 400
All times Eastern
7 p.m.: And there’s the checkered flag! Truex wins his third race of the season, followed by Larson, Kyle Busch, Byron, Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott, Blaney, Buescher and Newman in the top 10 (unofficially).
6:59 p.m.: Truex has over a two-second lead over Larson as the white flag waves. It’s all over.
6:55 p.m.: Larson isn’t letting Truex out of his sights: He just split Newman and Reddick’s cars to lap the two of them and remain a .53 seconds off the lead. Six laps left.
6:52 p.m.: Truex nearly went sideways on the last turn, but manages to keep the lead and maintain his distance from Larson. He had a .65-second lead with 12 laps to go.
6:52 p.m.: Larson at 0.35 seconds mind with 15 laps remaining. He’s not giving Truex the win here.
6:51 p.m.: Hamlin makes heavy contact with the wall with 16 to go but maintains his control. NO caution.
6:46 p.m.: Only 25 laps left, with Truex and Larson in the top two. Kyle Busch, Byron and Ryan Blaney make up the top five.
6:43 p.m.: Larson is gaining more ground on the leader … he’s roughly 0.40 seconds off the lead with 30 laps to go.
6:42 p.m.: And there’s a disastrous mistake by Logano: He speeds in pit row and has to give up fourth place as he takes a lap through again.
6:39 p.m.: Truex pits and maintains his lead with 36 laps to go. Kyle Larson did gain some ground on him, though and is now 1.55 seconds behind in second place. Previously the second-place driver was 4 seconds behind.
6:36 p.m.: It’s Truex, Larson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Hamlin as your top five drivers with 43 laps remaining.
6:27 p.m.: Truex has led 188 of 233 laps with 60 to go. Per the telecast, three racers have led 200-plus laps this season, and not a one of them has won their respective race.
6:25 p.m.: And he does pit. They pull the left rear fender to keep the tire from rubbing against it and causing smoke — no adjustments to tire pressure. More importantly: No caution.
6:24 p.m.: Alex Bowman’s rear left tire is smoking. Wonder if NASCAR will call a caution with 65 laps left or if he’ll try to pit beforehand.
6:22 p.m.: Truex, Hamlin, Reddick, Chris Buescher and Briscoe — the top five racers — are the only drivers not to pit with 68 laps to go in the race.
6:05 p.m.: Truex, Hamlin and Kyle Busch are your top three racers at the restart with 100 laps left.
5:53 p.m.: Caution 6 (competition). And there’s Truex with his second stage win, followed by Kyle Busch and William Byron in the top three.
5:47 p.m.: All’s quiet after a series of cautions … so here’s the story behind Denny Hamlin’s throwback paint scheme.
5:29 p.m.: Darlington Raceway has that effect on cars.
5:15 p.m.: Hamlin, Chase Briscoe and Truex are the top three drivers on the restart, 25 laps into Stage 2.
5:11 p.m.: Wallace was in line to get a free pass under caution, but won’t get it after NASCAR reversed the decision because he made contact with Kurt Busch in the latter’s crash.
5:04 p.m.: Kurt Busch wrecked on the frontstretch and started driving around leaking fluid. That’s when his car caught on fire.
5;04 p.m.: Caution 5, Lap 107. Kurt Busch is at the center of the caution this time. Not certain what happened, but his car is smoking and flaming from underneath his car. He’s clearly aggravated.
5:02 p.m.: Truex, Hamlin, Reddick, Joey Logano and Harvick are your top five racers heading into the restart on Lap 104.
4:55 p.m.: Caution 4, Lap 98. Cole Custer with a very similar hit that knocked Aric Almirola out of commission, and in the same spot too. Looks like Anthony Alfredo cut him off, forcing Custer to swerve to the left and hit the wall.
4:45 p.m.: Oh, and Chastain is a lap down after neglecting to pit. Not a great place to start heading into the second stage.
4:44 p.m.: Caution 3 (competition). Truex wins Stage 1, his fifth stage win at Darlington.
Stage 1 Top 10 at Darlington:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Tyler Reddick
4. Kyle Larson
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Joey Logano
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Chase Elliott
9. William Byron
10. Alex Bowman#Goodyear400
— PRN (@PRNlive) May 9, 2021
4:43 p.m.: Bubba Wallace is a lap down after Truex laps him with three laps remaining in the stage.
4:32 p.m.: Ross Chastain takes over the lead with 26 laps remaining in the first stage, but has yet to pit. He’ll need fresh tires sooner rather than later.
4:14 p.m.: Almirola talks about the crash that ended his day just seven laps in:
4:10 p.m.: There’s the restart on Lap 29. Truex Jr., Harvick and Tyler Reddick are your leaders in the top three.
4:05 p.m.: Terrible timing.
4:02 p.m.: Caution 2, Lap 22. Kyle Busch with a rear right flat tire — looks like it happened as Truex Jr. overtook him for the lead. Busch heading to pit.
3:58 p.m.: Now there’s Kyle Busch retaking the lead on Lap 14.
3:55 p.m.: Harvick, Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. have the top three positions, respectively, heading into the checkered green flag on Lap 12.
3:48 p.m.: Caution 1, Lap 7. There’s our first caution; Aric Almirola’s car seems out of commission — he knocked his front wheels off the ground after sliding and making contact with the inside wall off of Turn 2 at a 90-degree angle.
3:48 p.m.: Kevin Harvick overtakes Brad Keselowski on the sixth lap.
3:45 p.m.: And there’s the green flag!
3:36 p.m.: Happy Mother’s Day from Darlington Raceway!
3 p.m.: Hopefully no repeat performances today:
NASCAR start time today
The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway is scheduled to wave at 3:42 p.m. ET.
The National Weather Service forecast for the Goodyear 400 in Darlington, S.C., is for sunny skies and a high temperature near 85 degrees. Wind might play a small role in the race with gusts above 20 mph expected.
NASCAR lineup at Darlington
Here is the complete starting lineup for the Goodyear 400 without qualifying:
|Start pos.||Driver||Car No.||Team|
|1||Brad Keselowski||2||Team Penske|
|2||Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|3||Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|4||Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|5||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|6||Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|7||Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|8||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|9||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|10||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|11||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|12||Joey Logano||22||Team Penske|
|13||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|14||Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|15||Daniel Suarez||99||Trackhouse Racing Team|
|16||Ryan Blaney||12||Team Penske|
|17||Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|18||Ross Chastain||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|19||Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|20||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|21||Christopher Bell||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|22||Chase Briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|23||Bubba Wallace||23||23XI Racing|
|24||Cole Custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|25||Anthony Alfredo||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|26||Erik Jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|27||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|28||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|29||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|30||Corey LaJoie||7||Spire Motorsports|
|31||Justin Haley||77||Spire Motorsports|
|32||BJ McLeod||78||Live Fast Motorsports|
|33||Cody Ware||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|34||JJ Yeley||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|35||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|36||James Davison||15||Rick Ware Racing|
|37||Josh Bilicki||52||Rick Ware Racing|