The Cup Series has finally reached its crescendo. Now, racers will be greeted by the Lady in Black, one of the more challenging courses in all of NASCAR.
It’s been a grueling campaign for those sweet 16 racers, many of whom have had to endure bone-rattling wrecks and pit road mishaps that would leave a smaller person cowering. For the likes of Bubba Wallace, the playoffs was far from a certainty; the 23XI Racing driver had long been playing for points, establishing a solid, if unspectacular, lead over Ty Gibbs and Daniel Suarez in the standings.
LIVE: Updates, highlights from the Southern 500 at Darlington
Then came Daytona, a cesspool of unpredictability. Wallace was the lucky one, avoiding two major wrecks to cruise to a P11 finish. With Chris Buescher capturing his third win, that was all he needed to make it into the playoffs.
How will his inaugural bow in postseason play turn out? It’s hard to tell. Wallace is a superspeedway darling and has shown improving consistency on road courses. He’s got a pair of Cup Series wins to his name, to go along with plenty of speed and verve. Perhaps he can spark an unexpected run and take his place among the game’s elite.
One thing is clear, though: if Wallace wants to put together a good showing, he’d do well to impress during Saturday’s qualifying. He’s facing a major deficit in playoff points at present; it would be nice to cut into that gap with a strong showcase during the Southern 500.
MORE: Watch the Southern 500 live with Fubo (free trial)
With that, here’s what you need to know about the starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Darlington.
Who won the pole for Darlington in 2023?
Christopher Bell took the pole for Sunday’s race, blazing past the rest of the field with the fastest lap time in qualifying. He outpaced Denny Hamlin, who will join him in the front row. It’s his seventh career pole and fourth of the season for Bell.
MORE: Updated points, scenarios as drivers chase Cup Series championship
NASCAR at Darlington starting lineup 2023
Leading the field for Sunday night’s race are Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin. Below is the rest of the starting lineup for the race:
|Starting pos.||Driver||Car No.||Team|
|1||Christopher Bell (P)||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2||Denny Hamlin (P)||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||Tyler Reddick (P)||45||23XI Racing|
|4||Ryan Blaney (P)||12||Team Penske|
|5||Brad Keselowski (P)||6||Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing|
|6||Joey Logano (P)||22||Team Penske|
|7||Kevin Harvick (P)||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|8||Chris Buescher (P)||17||Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing|
|9||Michael McDowell (P)||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|10||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|11||Kyle Busch (P)||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|12||Chase Briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|13||Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|14||Austin Cindric||2||Team Penske|
|15||Carson Hocevar||42||Legacy Motor Club|
|16||A.J. Allmendinger||16||Kaulig Racing|
|17||Ty Gibbs||54||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|18||Kyle Larson (P)||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|19||Bubba Wallace (P)||23||23XI Racing|
|20||Erik Jones||43||Legacy Motor Club|
|21||Daniel Suarez||99||Trackhouse Racing|
|22||Corey LaJoie||7||Spire Motorsports|
|23||William Byron (P)||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|24||Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|25||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|26||Ty Dillon||77||Spire Motorsports|
|27||Ross Chastain (P)||1||Trackhouse Racing|
|28||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|29||Justin Haley||31||Kaulig Racing|
|30||Todd Gilliland||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|31||Martin Truex Jr. (P)||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|32||Harrison Burton||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|33||J.J. Yeley||15||Rick Ware Racing|
|34||Ryan Preece||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|35||Ryan Newman||51||Rick Ware Racing|
|36||B.J. McLeod||78||Live Fast Motorsports|