Good news, bad news for NASCAR Cup teams heading into Darlington weekend

The Cup Series hits the midpoint of the regular season this weekend at Darlington Raceway.

Kyle Larson's win in the closest finish in NASCAR history last weekend gives Hendrick Motorsports victories in six of the first 12 races of the season. Joe Gibbs Racing has four wins. Trackhouse Racing and 23XI Racing each has one win this season.

Here’s a look at where things stand for each Cup organization heading into the 13th race of the season:

23XI Racing — Good news: Tyler Reddick has three top-three finishes in the last four Darlington races. … Bubba Wallace has three consecutive top-10 finishes at Darlington.. Bad news: Wallace is outside a playoff spot. He’s four points below the cutline.

Front Row Motorsports — Good news: Todd Gilliland finished 11th at Darlington last spring. … Michael McDowell has two top 10s in his last four Darlington starts. Bad News: McDowell has failed to finish a series-high four races this season.

Hendrick Motorsports — Good news: Kyle Larson’s victory at Kansas last weekend means that the organization still has not gone more than two races without a Cup victory this season. … Larson has scored a series-best 145 stage points (an average of 12.1 per race) this year. He has more stage points than teammates Chase Elliott (80) and William Byron (62) have combined. …Byron and Alex Bowman each has seven top 10s. That’s tied for the most this season with Martin Truex Jr. and Tyler Reddick. Bad news: Byron has finished 33rd (Dover) and 23rd (Kansas) in his last two races. That marks only the third time since the beginning of last year that Byron has finished outside the top 20 for consecutive races.

NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400
NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400

Kyle Larson maintains No. 1 spot in NASCAR Power Rankings after Kansas win

The Kansas weekend featured NASCAR’s closest Cup finish.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Good news: Denny Hamlin, a four-time Darlington winner, has finished in the top 10 in 69.6% of his 23 starts there. Hamlin’s average finish of 8.4 at Darlington is the best all-time by a driver with more than two starts there. … Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish of 8.9 this season is the best in the series. …Christopher Bell has started in the top three in three of the last four Darlington races. Bad news: The organization has more Did Not Finishes (five) than it has top-10 results (three) at Darlington in the Next Gen era. … Ty Gibbs’ average finish in the first six races was 7.8. His average finish in the last six races is 18.7.

JTG Daugherty Racing — Good news: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has finished 16th or better in three of the last four races at Darlington. Bad news: Stenhouse has been caught speeding on pit road in each of the last two races at Darlington. He had two such penalties in this race last spring and one in last year’s Southern 500.

Kaulig Racing — Good news: Derek Kraus is scheduled to make his fourth career Cup start for the organization this weekend. … Daniel Hemric has three top-20 finishes in the last four races. … The organization has had at least one of its cars finish in the top 20 in each of the last four races at Darlington. Twice, Kaulig has had a car finish in the top 10 in that span. Bad news: Kaulig is tied with Trackhouse Racing with six pit road speeding penalties this year. Only Joe Gibbs Racing has more at seven.  

NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400
NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400

NASCAR’s closest finishes in Next Gen era

Kansas victor Kyle Larson has won more closes finishes in Cup since 2022 than any other series driver.

Legacy Motor Club — Good news: Two-time Darlington winner Erik Jones is back in the No. 43 this weekend after missing the past two races to recover from a compression fracture in a lower vertebra suffered in a crash at Talladega. … Since scoring three finishes of 33rd or worse, John Hunter Nemechek has placed 20th and 13th in the past two races. Bad news: Jones and Nemechek have combined to score 45 stage points. Fifteen drivers have scored more stage points this season.

Richard Childress Racing — Good news: Kyle Busch has started in the top five in each of the last three races — the first time he’s done that since 2021. He went from 21st to eighth in overtime last week at Kansas. Bad news: Busch’s lone Darlington win came in 2008. Five drivers in that race now have sons racing against Busch full-time: Dave Blaney (son Ryan), Jeff Burton (Harrison), David Gilliland (Todd), Bill Elliott (Chase) and Joe Nemechek (John Hunter). Busch is winless in his last 33 Cup races. … Austin Dillon has finished 24th or worse in nine of 12 races this year.

Rick Ware Racing — Good news: Justin Haley’s 18th-place finish at Kansas was the best for the organization at that track. Bad news: Only once has the organization had a car finish in the top 25 at Darlington. Cody Ware was 19th in the May 2022 event.

RFK Racing — Good news: Brad Keselowski moved into a playoff spot after Kansas. Keselowski has scored top-10 finishes in each of the last three Darlington races and in four of the last five races there. Bad news: .001 of a second for Chris Buescher at Kansas.

NASCAR Cup Series Würth 400 - Practice
NASCAR Cup Series Würth 400 - Practice

Former Cup champ knocks another former champ out of NASCAR playoff position

Brad Keselowski moves into a playoff spot, while Joey Logano falls below the cutline after Kansas race.

Spire Motorsports — Good news: Carson Hocevar’s second career Cup start came in last year’s Southern 500. He started 15th and finished 17th in that event. Bad news: All three team cars finished 24th or worse at Kansas. That’s the first time in the last five races all three cars have finished so deep in the field.

Stewart-Haas Racing — Good news: Three consecutive top-10 finishes have moved Noah Gragson to 19th in the points. He was 37th in the standings after a 35-point penalty at Atlanta in late February left him at -6 points. Kansas was his sixth consecutive top-20 finish. Gragson has two wins and a runner-up finish in the Xfinity Series at Darlington. … Chase Briscoe remains in a playoff spot. Bad news: Josh Berry is one of three drivers who has started every race this year without a top-10 finish. His best result this year is 11th.

NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400
NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400

Kansas finish another close call that keeps Ford winless in NASCAR in 2024

Ford has lost four Cup races this season by less than half a second combined.

Team Penske — Good news: Ryan Blaney is the only Ford driver in the top 10 in points. He’s sixth in the standings. Bad news: Joey Logano fell out of a playoff spot after last weekend’s race at Kansas. … The last time this organization was winless in Cup through 12 races was 2013. … The organization’s average finish of 18.7 among Blaney, Logano and Austin Cindric is its worst through 12 races since 2010.

Trackhouse Racing — Good news: Daniel Suarez’s pit crew had the fastest four-tire pit stop at Kansas at 9.343 seconds on Lap 254, according to Racing Insights. … Ross Chastain is making his 200th career Cup start this weekend at Darlington. Bad news: Last time a driver won in their 200th Cup start was 2006 when Kevin Harvick did it at Watkins Glen.

Wood Brothers Racing — Good news: Harrison Burton finished sixth in the spring race last year at Darlington. Bad news: Burton has two top-10 finishes in the 35 races since.