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The Latest: Darlington improves seating, sight lines

September 2, 2018

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest from NASCAR racing at Darlington Raceway on Sunday (all times EDT):

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4 p.m.

Fans at the Southern 500 will notice a different look at Darlington Raceway. They’ll feel it, too.

The track completed some $7 million in improvements, nearly all of it going into its aging and often uncomfortable grandstands. Darlington leaders replaced and widened seating and aisles in its main Tyler, Colvin and Wallace grandstands.

The track also installed a “Wall of Honor” in its grandstands circling the 1.366-mile egg-shaped layout. Banners listing all 49 of Darlington’s winners since its first race in 1950 are set up in what had been seating closest to the track.

Darlington Raceway president Kerry Tharp said the seats lost to the project were some of the worst in the facility. The redo has given all fans improved comfort and sight angles, Tharp said.

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2 p.m.

Denny Hamlin will look to end a yearlong drought in NASCAR’s top series when he starts on the pole for the Southern 500.

Hamlin has not won since taking the checkered flag at Darlington Raceway a year ago. He showed his Darlington touch might be back when he turned the fastest lap in qualifying, and then finished fourth in the Xfinity race Saturday.

Hamlin is on the verge of clinching one of the four remaining spots in NASCAR’s playoffs. He needs eight points to lock up his 12th playoff berth in 13 seasons.

Kyle Larson starts second Sunday night and last year’s Cup series champion Martin Truex Jr. is third. Current points leader Kyle Busch qualified fifth while series wins leader Kevin Harvick will start 22nd.

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