DARLINGTON, SC (AP) — Former NASCAR Cup Series champions Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick will start at the back of the field Sunday at Darlington Raceway.
Denny Hamlin will also be back.
Elliott and Harvick had Saturday in practice. Hamlin struggled in qualifying later in the day.
All three will have plenty of ground to make up on pole sitter Joey Logano. Logano hit 170.720 mph and clocked a fast lap of 28.805 seconds to claim first place in qualifying, edging out Kyle Larson.
Larson will start second, one row ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch will share third row, assuming Kyle races. Young Busch is expecting the birth of his second child through a surrogate.
Trevor Bayne is on standby in case Busch has to leave Darlington for the delivery. Busch shared tips with Bayne after his qualifying race.
“I think it’s always a tough decision, but I think you can live missing a race, but you’ll never live not being there for the birth of your child,” Busch said.
Busch says his wife, Samantha, feels like the husband during childbirth because she is not carrying the child and is unable to feel all of the internal bodily changes that come with pregnancy.
“If she’s the husband, I guess I’m the next step up from that, whatever it is. I’m not sure,” Busch joked.
Busch and everyone else up front enjoyed trouble-free qualifying runs. Elliott, Harvick and Hamlin couldn’t say the same.
Elliott crashed with a puncture and damaged the front of his car, forcing his team to scramble to get a backup car.
“I recognized that it was flat; it was just a bit too late,” said Elliott, who is coming off a win last week at Dover Motor Speedway. “At that point it started to fall apart and you’re kind of ready for the ride.”
It was the latest setback for Elliott, who was scheduled to race in the Xfinity Series in a fifth car for JR Motorsports but did not race when qualifying was canceled by rain on Friday.
Harvick blew a left rear tire in practice and did enough damage that he couldn’t make a qualifying attempt.
Hamlin, who won the Southern 500 last year at Darlington, damaged the diffuser during his qualifying run. Replacing him forced him to the back of the field.
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