Martin Truex, Jr. Triumphs at Bojangle’s Southern 500
The historic Darlington Raceway, a track called “Too Tough to Tame,” took its toll on Kevin Harvick’s dominant charge to give Martin Truex, Jr. his first Bojangle’s Southern 500.
With 12 laps to go on a restart Truex shot to the front of the pack, trying to stretch his lead with Kyle Larson and Harvick in tow. The Mayetta, NJ native hit his marks, which wasn’t easy with the Lady in Black’s notorious slippery surface, running right up against the wall, making it even more treacherous.
“This is unbelievable,” said Truex, who earned his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season and the fifth of his career. “I’ve always loved this race track. I’ve led a lot of laps here in my career, but something always happens, and I’m so proud to get to Victory lane with this group. The pit crew was flawless tonight—they won us the race.
“They took a lot of heat for what happened last week (a blown pit stop at Michigan resulting in a 20th-place finish). We’ve had a terrible streak of bad luck. We’ve had super-fast race cars. I knew the bad luck would stop coming, and we’d start racking ’em off. The pit crew’s done a great job, but they did stumble last week, and this was a great way to make it up.”
Harvick suffered through an array of pit road miscues costing him 17 positions on the track despite leading for 214 laps, becoming only the 17th NASCAR driver to lead over 10,000 laps. He left Darlington very irritated, having to fight his way back to the front three times. It was his 17th second place finish in the last 61 races.
“Yeah, we had a great car,” Harvick said. “The guys in the garage and at the shop continue to do a great job, and we continue to give it away on pit road. Pretty much summed up the night. Just the dominant car; and just three bad stops on pit road.”
Kyle Larson, last week’s Michigan winner, came home third. Denny Hamlin ran fourth, followed by Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott completed the top 10.
In the NASCAR Sprint Car Chase, Chris Buescher’s 17th place finish keeps him in the Top 30 driver’s points, 11 ahead of David Ragan at the conclusion of the penultimate event.
Jamie McMurray is on the hot seat, finding himself separated by only seven points from a hard charging Ryan Newman for the envied 16th spot in the Chase. Elliott is only 24 points to the good in 14th, along with Austin Dillon, 16 points in the positive in 15th.
Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, and AJ Allmendinger make up the rest of the top 20 with Richmond next weekend signifying the end to the regular NASCAR season with the playoffs on the horizon.
Every point scenario will be covered starting on Saturday night, Sept. 10, for the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Speedway on NBCSN.
Elliott Sadler Finally Wins at Darlington in VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200
Through perseverance, including a Darlington stripe with two laps to go, Elliott Sadler fought off a rear-view full of Denny Hamlin to come home victorious at the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200, NASCAR Xfinity series event on Saturday afternoon at Darlington Raceway.
Craving a win at the historic track, the native Virginian from Emporia quickly dedicated his big moment to his car owner, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who announced on Friday he would sit out the rest of the 2016 Sprint Cup season due to concussion symptoms.
“This win today is for my man, Dale Earnhardt Jr.,” the 41-year old Sadler said. “I know he’s going through a tough time. He’s not being able to race his race car for the rest of the year. He was riding there with me today, and he’s given me such a great opportunity to be a part of his race team.”
He earned this win with pure might, rubbing up against the Turn 2 wall with two laps to go, giving Hamlin a run at the No.1 Chevrolet of Sadler’s. Watching video from earlier this week, he studied Hamlin’s line from previous years and knew to take the preferred faster high line to fend off Hamlin.
“I messed up, man,” Sadler said, on the verge of losing the race. “I could kind of see him coming, and I was trying to make up some time, and I started focusing on a lapped car in front of me, and I ran out of room and almost gave it to him. But all in all, we were able to hold him off.”
The victory was Sadler’s 12th Xfinity win and second of this season.
It was Hamlin’s second start in the Xfinity series this season. He was looking for his fifth win at Darlington in the category, but had to settle for second after running out of room on the tight egg-shaped oval.
“We definitely had a good line going through (Turns) 1 and 2,” Hamlin said, “But I didn’t get a good restart (on Lap 112, after the last of three cautions); he got position on me, and track position meant so much. Once he ran the high line, my car was entirely too tight to run low. It eliminated our passing opportunity unless we could slide-job him there in Turn 3 on that one lap he messed up, but it didn’t happen.”
After the upfront battle of Sadler and Hamlin, Daniel Suarez was third, contender Kyle Larson was fourth, and rounding out the top five was Brennan Poole.
Only 18 points separate Ryan Sieg from Dakoda Armstrong for the coveted 12th spot in the Xfinity Chase while Jeremy Clements, -26, arrears in 14th.
Just two more races remain on the NASCAR Xfinity schedule before their Chase of 12 starts in Kentucky. The first stop will be the Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway next Friday night on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m.
John Hunter Nemechek Shoves His Way Winning Chevrolet Silverado 250
The two-lap overtime showdown at the Chevrolet Silverado 250, NASCAR Camping World Truck series event at Canadian Motorsports Park came down to push comes to shove and then wreck, with 19-year old John Hunter Nemechek declared the controversial winner over Cole Custer when all the dust finally settled.
The pair was coming down to the finish line with Custer ahead of Nemechek, who first tapped, then railroaded Custer out of the way with both trucks traveling into the dirt, crashing together, never relinquishing their position.
After the race, more fireworks ignited with Custer climbing the pit wall after the race. He literally went after Nemechek, tackling him to the ground when he went to the starter’s stand to get the checkered flag. NASCAR officials were quickly on the scene to break it up, with other Custer’s crew members joining in pointing fingers at Nemechek with accusations of taking a cheap shot to get the win.
NASCAR officials waited 10 minutes before announcing Nemechek the official winner after a scoreboard correction.
“It was exciting to say the least,” said Nemechek, taking his second win of the season. “We had one fast truck. I didn’t know how long it was going to take to get past [Spencer] Gallagher but I set him up in (Turns) 5a and 5b and was able to drive underneath him going down the backstretch. Once we got by him I had clean air and was able to drive right up to Cole.”
In explaining his last lap actions with Custer at the finish, Nemechek said, “You just have to chalk it up to the burning desire to win.
“Cole and I, we’re very competitive racers and we would have done anything in the same position to make sure we get that win,” he said.
The 18-year old Custer was fuming mad after being shoved at the finish, having the race going his way as his only way to enter the Chase of 8 with a victory. Frustrated about having to accept such a tough loss after being the pole-sitter, his leading for 39 laps showed all weekend his No. 00 Chevy Truck was the truck to beat.
“[Nemechek] had raced me clean and just hit me in the back on the second-last corner, and that got me out of shape, got me off the line and then he hit me again in the last corner, and that just sent us into the grass and he just drove me up against the fence,” said a disappointed Custer. “I was expecting it, kinda, because he’s raced a lot of people like that but it’s just a shame because it was a great chance to get into the Chase and he took it away from us.”
After Nemechek and Custer, it was Daniel Hemric, Matt Crafton and Christopher Bell to finish out the Top 5.
Despite the missed opportunity, Custer will have one more chance to qualify for the Chase if he can win the final race of the regular season at Chicagoland Speedway. Custer is 32 points behind in ninth, separated by eighth-place runner Timothy Peters. In 10th is Cameron Hayley, -38, and Tyler Reddick, -39 as the main contenders.
The NASCAR Trucks take next weekend off, returning to action at the Chicagoland Speedway for the American Ethanol E15 225 on Friday night, Sept. 16 on FOX Sports 1. It’s the last race before the Chase of 8 starts in New Hampshire.