ThatsRacin

NASCAR Southern 500 preview in 3 minutes

Brad Keselowski is congratulated by crew members after winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C., Saturday.
Brad Keselowski is congratulated by crew members after winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C., Saturday. AP

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. If the low-drag package (also used at Kentucky in July) makes for better racing Sunday, it could well be incorporated by NASCAR into the 2016 aerodymanic package.

2. Jeff Gordon is looking for a victory in these final two races before the Chase begins to solidy his spot in the playoffs. With seven career victories at Darlington, he’s also he’s got the highest driver rating at the track since 2005.

3. How much longer can Hendrick Motorsports’ winless streak go? It’s been seven races since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in July.

Observations

▪  It’s good to have the Southern 500 back on Labor Day weekend after 11 years. With all the throwback paint schemes and other nods to tradition Sunday, the atmosphere should be outstanding.

▪  Five winless drivers are just outside the Chase cutline and need a victory today: Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola.

▪  Voting for the 2015 National Motorsports Press Association’s most popular driver award opens Sunday (www.mostpopulardriver.com). Earnhardt has won it every year since 2003, and there’s no reason to think he won’t again, right?

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Joey Logano: He’s hitting his stride as the Chase looms, with recent victories at Bristol and Watkins Glen.

Kevin Harvick: Points leader and 2014 Southern 500 winner hasn’t won since Phoenix (fourth race of the season), but has an eye-popping 10 runner-up finishes.

Brad Keselowski: Won pole with a speed of 178.874 mph, his first of the season.

He said it

“That stinking wall out there.” – Logano, on what makes racing at Darlington so challenging.

N@SCAR

Getting there

Race facts

Southern 500

Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Track type: 1.37-mile egg-shaped banked oval.

Race distance: 501 miles, or 367 laps.

Green flag: 7:20 p.m.

Weather: 77 degrees, 45 percent chance of thunderstorms.

TV: NBC (WCNC, ch. 36).

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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