DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Former NASCAR Cup Series champions Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick will start at the rear of the field Sunday at Darlington Raceway.
Denny Hamlin will be back there, too.
Elliott and Harvick had Saturday in practice. Hamlin had problems in qualifying later in the day.
All three will have lots of ground to make up on pole-sitter Joey Logano. Logano reached 170.720 mph and turned a fast lap of 28.805 seconds to clinch the top spot in qualifying, edging 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 the third row, assuming Kyle makes the race. The younger Busch is awaiting the birth of his second child through a surrogate mother.
Trevor Bayne is on standby in case Busch has to leave Darlington for the birth. Busch shared tips with Bayne following his qualifying run.
“I think it’s always a hard decision, but I think you can live down missing a race but you’ll never live down not being there for the birth of your kid,” Busch said.
Busch says his wife, Samantha, feels like the husband in a child birth because she’s not carrying the child and is unable to feel all the internal body changes that come with pregnancy.
“If she’s the husband, I guess I’m the next step down from that, whatever that is. I’m not sure,” Busch quipped.
Busch and everyone else up front enjoyed problem-free qualifying runs. Elliott, Harvick and Hamlin couldn’t say the same.
Elliott crashed because of a flat tire and damaged the front of his car, forcing his team to scramble to get a backup car put together.
“I recognized it was flat; it was just a little too late,” said Elliott, who is coming off a win last week at Dover Motor Speedway. “By that point, it started to come apart and you’re just kind of along for the ride.”
It was the latest setback Elliott, who was scheduled to drive in the Xfinity Series race in a fifth car for JR Motorsports but did not make the race when qualifying was canceled by rain Friday.
Harvick blew a left-rear tire in practice and did enough damage that he was unable to make a qualifying attempt.
Hamlin, who won last year’s Southern 500 at Darlington, damaged the diffuser during his qualifying run. Replacing it forced him to the rear of the field.
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