Justin Haley’s Darlington Top-5 is More Satisfying Than Daytona Win

Justin Haley

Getty Justin Haley waves to fans at Darlington Raceway.

The driver of the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro is leaving Darlington Raceway in a good mood. Justin Haley posted a third-place finish at The Lady in Black, which he felt was more satisfying than his Cup Series win at Daytona in 2019.

Haley met with media members on pit road and addressed his first top-five finish since the win in 2019. He explained that the No. 31 was more of a top-15 car, but his pit crew put in a ton of work while crew chief Trent Owens made the calls that got him in position for the strong finish. Haley then explained why this run at Darlington meant more.

“It’s probably the most satisfying part. It is the hardest race track,” Haley said. “To get my career-high — I’m gonna call it my career-high — best finish here, it’s pretty cool.”

Haley continued and explained that he is not discounting his win at Daytona. He just acknowledged that driving up to third overall at Darlington is difficult, especially with all of the adversity that he had to avoid throughout the race. This was also a total team effort.

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Haley & Kaulig Racing Continue To Build Momentum

Justin Haley

GettyJustin Haley has made some positive strides in 2022.

Kaulig Racing’s first full-time season in the Cup Series has not been entirely smooth. There have been numerous hurdles to overcome for Haley’s No. 31 and the multi-car No. 16. Though Haley has managed to complete every race while posting an average finish of 17.2.

The past four weeks, however, have featured positive strides for Haley. He finished 14th at Bristol dirt, 12th at Talladega Superspeedway, 11th at Dover Motor Speedway, and third at Darlington Raceway. He has put himself into the conversation more frequently while capitalizing on many opportunities to move up in the field.

“I wouldn’t even say that we needed a top-five,” Haley said. “I would have been happy with a 10th. Last week, we had a really good race at Dover, and we were upfront. Yeah, we are just kind of building momentum. I don’t think we are a third-place team, right, I think we are around a 15th-place team and a 15th-place car any day of the week.”

There Were Numerous Incidents at Darlington

The race at Darlington has a reputation for claiming cars, and the Goodyear 400 proved that to be correct. There were a total of six cautions due to incidents on the track, including numerous spins. There was also a massive wreck during the final stage that collected nine vehicles.

The incident unfolded with 33 laps remaining in the Cup Series race. Martin Truex Jr. spun while racing on the inside of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Cole Custer couldn’t check up in time, so he hit Truex and took some damage while Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, and Bubba Wallace all sustained a considerable amount of damage by either hitting the wall or other drivers.

Haley, for comparison, did not sustain any damage. He was behind the incident as it unfolded, but he was able to avoid the other cars and keep the No. 31 clean. He continued to remain in the race while other drivers headed to the garage.

“We were pretty conservative all day,” Haley said as an explanation for how he avoided the spinning cars and the massive wreck that took place. “Fortunate enough to be in pretty good positions when the mayhem started.”

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