ThatsRacin

NASCAR: Results and 3 takeaways from the Cup Series race at Darlington

Brad Keselowski celebrates in his first win of the NASCAR Cup series season at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C., on Sunday. Keselowski beat Kyle Larson off pit road and pulled away for the victory.
Brad Keselowski celebrates in his first win of the NASCAR Cup series season at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C., on Sunday. Keselowski beat Kyle Larson off pit road and pulled away for the victory. AP

Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Southern 500 on Sunday, his first Cup Series win of the season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway:

1. Another unlucky night for Kyle Larson, who has developed a habit.

You’ve got to feel bad for Larson at this point. The 26-year-old already had four second-place finishes in 2018, including at the last race at Bristol. And then to lead 280-plus laps, only to ... lose a battle off pit road by inches and eventually finish third? It’s impressive the way Larson can consistently handle these disappointments publicly, never getting too down on himself or moping, but this one especially has to hurt. It’s also becoming a trademark of his career of sorts, as even during his four-win 2017 campaign, he finished second nine times.

2. A weight off Keselowski’s shoulders, at last.

When asked what it meant to him to finally have a win in 2018, Keselowski basically answered that the biggest relief was not having to answer that specific question anymore. Look, there’s no denying this has been a tough season on the No. 2 team, who last season qualified for the championship four at Homestead. While there have been moments of glory, on the whole, Keselowski admitted this year has been a struggle. But now? This win won’t single-handedly propel him back to contention in the season finale at Homestead, but it will go a long way as far as his confidence is concerned. Now if only the team can replicate this car ...

3. A slump from the Big 3? Don’t count on it.

Keselowski’s win means that in the past four Cup Series races there has only been one victory from the Big 3 of Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch (Harvick at Michigan). So does that mean the most dominant drivers this season are slumping? Hardly. A few off races does nothing to diminish the dominance those three have built up all year. Would they prefer to be winning instead of finishing in the middle of the pack? Absolutely. But to count out any of that trio now would be foolish, especially when you consider that they still own 17 of the 25 victories in 2018.

Bojangles’ Southern 500

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

At Darlington Raceway

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup

Bojangles’ Southern 500

Darlington, S.C.

Lap length: 1.366 miles

St

Driver

Car

Laps

*

Rating

1

13

Brad Keselowski

Ford

367

55

2

8

Joey Logano

Ford

367

50.

3

2

Kyle Larson

Chevrolet

367

54.

4

22

Kevin Harvick

Ford

367

39.

5

11

Chase Elliott

Chevrolet

367

40.

6

9

Kurt Busch

Ford

367

39.

7

5

Kyle Busch

Toyota

367

35.

8

7

Erik Jones

Toyota

367

44.

9

31

Jamie McMurray

Chevrolet

367

30.

10

1

Denny Hamlin

Toyota

367

31.

11

3

Martin Truex Jr

Toyota

367

34.

12

25

Ricky Stenhouse Jr

Ford

367

25.

13

19

Chris Buescher

Chevrolet

367

24.

14

12

Aric Almirola

Ford

367

23.

15

21

Ryan Blaney

Ford

367

22.

16

18

Austin Dillon

Chevrolet

367

21.

17

14

Paul Menard

Ford

366

20.

18

23

David Ragan

Ford

366

19.

19

6

Ryan Newman

Chevrolet

366

22.

20

26

Michael McDowell

Ford

365

17.

21

28

Ty Dillon

Chevrolet

365

16.

22

24

AJ Allmendinger

Chevrolet

365

15.

23

4

Alex Bowman

Chevrolet

365

14.

24

29

Kasey Kahne

Chevrolet

364

13.

25

15

Matt Kenseth

Ford

364

12.

26

27

Bubba Wallace

Chevrolet

363

11.

27

34

Corey Lajoie

Chevrolet

360

10.

28

33

Ross Chastain

Chevrolet

360

0.

29

16

Daniel Suarez

Toyota

358

8.

30

35

Landon Cassill

Chevrolet

357

0.

31

32

JJ Yeley

Chevrolet

350

0.

32

37

BJ McLeod

Chevrolet

347

0.

33

38

Derrike Cope

Chevrolet

346

4.

34

40

Jeffrey Earnhardt

Toyota

344

3.

35

10

William Byron

Chevrolet

329

1

2.

36

17

Clint Bowyer

Ford

309

2

1.

37

36

Timmy Hill

Ford

268

1

0.

38

30

Matt DiBenedetto

Ford

254

3

1.

39

20

Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

227

3

1.

40

39

Joey Gase

Toyota

120

2

0.

*Reason out: 1-engine, 2-accident, 3-garage.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.408 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 48 minutes, 54 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 1.224 seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 35 laps.

Lead Changes: 7 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Hamlin 1-11; K. Larson 12-129; M. Truex Jr. 130-159; K. Larson 160-258; B. Keselowski 259-260; J. Logano 261-278; K. Larson 279-345; B. Keselowski 346-367.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Larson 3 times for 284 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 30 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 24 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 18 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 11 laps.

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