NASCAR Race Review: Darlington


Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, SC. Darlington was the first Superspeedway in what is now called the Sprint Cup Series. It was built in 1950 and is egg-shaped so the owner could keep his minnow pond where it is. One end is long and sweeping. The other is shorter. Darlingtonwas the track too tough to tame, and it still is, despite repaving it a few years ago. The tires don’t fall off like they used to, but the track is just as tough. There is not enough room for passing. And most cars receive their Darlington Stripe at some point during the race.

1 Jamie McMurray starts from the pole with a speed of 180.37. 24 Jeff Gordon, starting second and 83 Brian Vickers starting third also broke the old qualifying record. 18 Kyle Busch is in a back up car and will start last after The Lady in Black grabbed her in practice.

So, here we go! 1 chooses the inside and he and 24 race side by side the whole first lap before 24 stays in the lead. 83 gets by 1 for second because he didn’t fall back in line. 1 and 00 David Reutimann battle for third, with 00 taking the spot. 9 Kasey Kahne gets by 5 Mark Martin for fifth.  6 David Ragan scrapes the wall and heads for the pits. 38 David Gilliland gets up against the wall. 32 Reed Sorenson gets into the wall hard and heads for the garage. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya and 47 Marcos Ambrose get together. 9 gets by 5, 1 and 00 for third.

48 Jimmie Johnson is up to twelfth after starting 22nd. 48 gets loose trying to get by 42,  the car snaps and he  gets into the wall. 99 Carl Edwards says he’s slow and gets lapped. 83 catches leader 24 and takes the lead.

The first caution comes out during the commercial. 99 Carl Edwards is the Lucky Dog and gets back on the lead lap. 48 makes repairs to his car. 1 comes out of the pits inches ahead of 24 with his first pit slot. 1 takes off at the restart. 11 Denny Hamlin, 39 Ryan Newman and 9 are three wide!

71 Bobaby Labonte hits the wall, the tire goes down and he spins. The second caution comes out for 20 Joey Logano spinning a lap later in the same spot. 20 was behind 71, got by, goes around and does the same thing. 82 Scott Speed gets the free pass onto the lead lap.

The third caution comes out when 43 A.J. Allmendinger and 78 Regan Smith get together and 14 Tony Stewart gets into 98 Paul Menard to send him spinning. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and 56 Martin Truex, Jr. get together while 43 goes low to get by them.

11 gets by 24 for second. 31 Jeff Burton gets by 83 for fourth. 9 slides ahead of 83. 2 Kurt Busch gets by 83. 42 gets by 39 and 14 gets by 16 Greg Biffle.

The fourth caution again comes out during the commercial. 16 gets loose in front of 56 and 48. 48 and 56 get together, 56 gets into the wall. 14 stays out and chooses the outside for the restart. 24 gets by 1 on the bottom for second. 11 gets by 1 for third. 24 takes the lead. 1 gets by 14. And 24 takes off, leading by three seconds. 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. gets into the wall. Eleven cars have the “Darlington Stripe”. 33 Clint Bowyer is back out nineteen laps down after making repairs.

14 is pitting under the Green Flag before he runs out of fuel, and starts Green Flag Pitting. 24 tries to lap 16, but Greg isn’t giving up without a fight. 88, with new tires unlaps himself. 11 takes the lead and finally puts 16 a lap down. 29 Kevin Harvick leads when 11 pits. 82 leads when 29 pits. 71 knocks out the commitment cone trying to get to pit road and will have to come back in. After all the pitting, 11 is back in the lead.

The fifth caution comes out during the commercial. 77 is again into the wall. 11 got into 48 to put him a lap down. 48 gets his lap back. 48 makes repairs to his battered car. 1 comes out first again and chooses the inside. 18 Kyle Busch takes second from 24.

The sixth caution comes out when 33 gets back into the wall. 43 slides down the track, has no brakes, slides back up the track and smashes into 48, putting them both into the wall. 16 Greg Biffle gets his lap back. 1 chooses the inside, with 18 on top. 2 gets into 11 when 11 gets snappy loose. 56 and 42 get together. 42 falls back. 14 is off the pace after getting into the wall. 33, many laps down, zips past 14.

The seventh caution comes out for spinning 14. 77 is also spinning. The first nine cars stay out.  The other thirteen cars are on the lead lap pit. 1 lets 18 by to lead. 42 gets loose into 9. 5 gets by 17 Matt Kenseth for nineteenth. 56 and 00 battle. 31 drives by 11. 9 and 17 complain about their brakes. 18 scrapes the wall.

The eighth caution comes out for debris. 71 blew the left rear tire. 6 David Ragan is the Lucky Dog and gets back onto the lead lap. 00 comes out first to lead. 18 takes right side tires, comes out onto the track with the left rear tire flat. 56 doesn’t get going on the restart and stacks everyone up. They pass him on both sides.  The ninth caution comes out and 18 has damage. 31 chooses the inside for the restart. 11 gets by 29. 9 and 56 battle side by side. 88 lets 83 get by. 39 lets 29 get by. 31 lets 24 get by to take the lead.

9 kisses the wall. 82 makes a pit stop and hits the commitment cone. The tenth caution is for 38  and 71. 71 gets loose off the corner and gets into the wall in front of 38 who has nowhere to go. 5 gets by. 18 chooses the inside for the restart. 11 pushes 18 by 1 for the lead, and then takes the lead. 56 nudges 20 Joey Logano into the wall to be the first car a lap down. 6 gets by 20. 1 lets 31 and 24 get by.

42 gets into the wall. 12 Brad Keselowski gets by 5 for eleventh. 24 and 31, with four tires get by 18 who took only two tires. 11, leading, kisses the wall. 83 squeezes 37 Kevin Conway into the wall. 31 gets by 24 for second. 31 catches 11 and takes the lead. 11 takes the lead back. And 31 takes the lead back.

This part is weird. 24 decides to short pit, but 14 is already coming into the pits. 24 can’t make it into the pits with 14 there without hitting the commitment cone, so goes back out. The next time around he comes in as the eleventh caution comes out for 20, who had just pitted and looses it while trying to blend in. 5 is already in the pits getting serviced. 24 was on pit road and goes through the pit road, back onto the track. But he’s at the tail end of the lead lap because of missing the pits. 31 pits and takes two tires, then runs over his air hose. So he comes back in for two more. 99 gets back onto the lead lap.

11 comes out of the pits first with many cars in front of him, who got stuck a lap down after pitting before the Yellow came out. They all take the wave around with one lap to go. 1 gets by 18 for second. 2 and 42 get by 18. 18 and 29 battle, with 29 taking the spot. 24 and 39 battle for seventh. 19 Elliott Sadler gets into the wall and continues. 24 gets by 18 for sixth. 31 gets by 12. 24 gets by 29 for fifth. 24 gets by 42 for fourth.

11 Denny Hamlin wins the Showtime Southern 500 after winning the Royal Purple 200 NASCAR Nationwide race the night before. This is his third win this season, tying 48, and his eleventh career win. This was his first weekend sweep, even after having surgery on his knee only a few weeks ago. There were eleven different leaders.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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