Parks Pit Report: Bojangles’ Southern 500

The “Flying 11” made it to victory for NASCAR’s Throwback weekend.

The Labor Day weekend for NASCAR at Darlington has quickly become the must-experience weekend for any fan, probably more than the Daytona 500.  This place is so historical, so prominent, and so different, that it just makes for a great time for all.

When NASCAR gave Darlington its traditional weekend back for the Southern 500, after it being taken away between 2004 and 2014, it just made sense for the sport to honor its heritage.

When the idea of doing a “Throwback” style weekend was tossed around two years ago, no one ever expected the involvement that came with it.  Goodyear deciding to letter the tires the way they did in the 60’s and 70s, NBC doing the classic logo and footage from the era, and many other items just began to make the feeling of being back at the speedway a lot different.

Add in the classic look of victory lane, the original colors of the walls of the track, and then all the retro and classic paint schemes on the cars, and it just worked.

The Throwback Weekend for NASCAR now has reached its third season and it just keeps getting more fun every single time.  The Monster Energy girls even got into the swing of things this year, as Darlington focused their efforts on the late 1980’s of the sport.  To match that, the sponsor girls rocked big hair and ripped tees.  It looked like a rock video seen on MTV rather than a NASCAR weekend.

But this is why I love the fact NASCAR is doing this kind of weekend only one time a year…there’s no place else it would work.

Darlington is NASCAR’s oldest track, with its oldest race, and its most unique shape of any track being run.  No other speedway compares to the “Lady in Black” in how she’s shaped, how she’s ran, and how much she hasn’t changed over the last six decades.  It’s a place where it doesn’t matter if a driver hasn’t won here yet, or has done so multiple times, a win at Darlington means they tamed a track that is usually “Too Tough To Tame.”

This place is my favorite track, and you hear me say it year after year.  And it will not change.  I love Darlington, I love NASCAR’s Throwback weekend, and it will only get better as each year passes.

STAGE 1 WINNER:  Martin Truex Jr.

STAGE 2 WINNER:  Martin Truex Jr.

RESULTS:  1-Hamlin  2-Kyle Busch  3-Kurt Busch  4-Dillon  5-Jones  6-Kenseth  7-Newman  8-Truex Jr.  9-Harvick  10-McMurray

NOTABLE FINISHES:  12-Johnson  14-Larson  15-Keselowski  18-Logano  22-Earnhardt Jr.  24-Kahne  29-Stenhouse Jr.  31-Blaney

CAUTIONS:  8 for 38 laps.  Lap 17-21 (#6 Incident-T3); 42-45 (#17 Incident-T4); 102-107 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 126-130 (#19 Incident-T1); 157-160 (#32, 47 and 51 Incident-T1); 198-204 (#83 Spin-T2); 208-210 (#38 Spin-T1); 262-265 (Debris-T2).

LEAD CHANGES:  20 among 8 drivers.  K. Harvick 1-18; Kyle Busch 19-21; K. Larson 22-99; M. Truex Jr. 100-102; K. Larson 103-147; M. Truex Jr. 148-156; K. Larson 157; D. Hamlin 158-178; M. Truex Jr. 179-200; K. Harvick 201; D. Hamlin 202-250; B. Keselowski 251-253; L. Cassill 254-258; M. Truex Jr. 259-261; Kyle Busch 262; D. Hamlin 263-313; Kyle Busch 314-315; K. Harvick 316-318; Kurt Busch 319-325; M. Truex Jr. 326-364; D. Hamlin 365-367.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 46 Mins, 44 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  132.761 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  2.599 Seconds

POINT STANDINGS (Points/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]):  1. Truex Jr, 1000* [37]; 2. Kyle Busch, -107 [20]; 3. Larson, -116 [18]; 4. Harvick, -133 [8]; 5. Hamlin, -190 [12]; 6. Keselowski, -239 [14]; 7. Elliott, -263 [2]; 8. Kenseth, 265 [3]; 9. McMurray, -266; 10. Johnson, -347 [16]; 11. Bowyer, -357 [1]; 12. Blaney, -371 [8]; 13. Kurt Busch, -376 [5]; 14. Jones, -389; 15. Logano, -395** [1]; 16. Newman, -396 [5]; 18. Stenhouse Jr, -464 [10]; 19. Dillon, -527 [5]; 21. Kahne, -536 [5].

*Clinched 2017 Regular Season championship.  Will receive 15 bonus points after next weekend’s race.

**Richmond win is encumbered, does not count towards playoff seeding.

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