Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, in three minutes:
Three things to watch
1. Notice the retro feel of the race, due to Darlington’s “throwback” paint schemes on the cars. It’s something that has caught on in a big way as the Southern 500 has returned to its spot on the Labor Day weekend after being shifted to earlier in the season from 2004 to ’14.
2. The Chase watch continues for several drivers, including Chris Buescher, who has a victory but barely in, thanks to his 30th-place spot in the standings. He wasn’t helped by not qualifying (it was canceled Saturday after Friday’s rain blew up the weekend schedule). That places him in the 30th spot in the lineup.
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3. If there’s a first-time Darlington winner, don’t be surprised. The track has produced 10 different winners in the past 10 seasons: Greg Biffle (2006), Jeff Gordon (2007), Kyle Busch (2008), Mark Martin (2009), Denny Hamlin (2010), Regan Smith (2011), Jimmie Johnson (2012), Matt Kenseth (2013), Kevin Harvick (2014) and Carl Edwards (2015).
▪ With two races left in the 16-driver Chase, winless drivers Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray are hanging on to the final three spots (Ryan Newman is 15 points behind McMurray). They don’t need anybody else winning with two races remaining until the postseason-- unless, of course, it’s one of them.
▪ Denny Hamlin has six consecutive top-10 finishes, including a victory in August at Watkins Glen. Another on Sunday would match his career high of seven.
▪ Darlington dedicated its garage Saturday to five-time Southern 500 winner Cale Yarborough, a native of nearby Timmonsville, S.C. Yarborough, 77, said the first time he came to the Darlington track was in 1951, when, at age 11, he crawled underneath the fence to watch the race. “Darlington will always be my favorite track in the world,” said Yarborough, who still lives in Timmonsville and will be the honorary pace-car driver Sunday. “I still get goose bumps driving by this place.”
▪ Johnson (176.025 mph) and Brad Keselowski (174.649) had the fastest times in Saturday’s morning and afternoon practice sessions, respectively, neither of which will have conditions similar to Sunday night’s race.
Three picks for your fantasy team:
Carl Edwards: He might be feeling invincible at Darlington -- he won the Southern 500 in 2015 after being down two laps.
Jimmie Johnson: He’s got two consecutive top-10s (Bristol, Michigan) and his three career victories at Darlington lead all active drivers.
Kevin Harvick: He’ll start on the pole, thanks to his top spot in the points standings (qualifying was canceled because of Friday’s rain).
He said it
“I don’t care what it looks like after the race as long as it’s in Victory Lane.” – Joey Logano, on his No. 22 Ford’s throwback paint scheme, which will resemble Bobby Labonte’s 1996 car.
Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Track type: 1.37-mile asphalt egg-shaped track..
Race distance: 501 miles, or 367 laps.
Green flag: 6:21 p.m.
Weather: Clear, low of 62; 10 percent chance of rain.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.