Martin Truex Jr surged late in the Southern 500 at Darlington to pick up his first win at the iconic speedway, and his 2nd win of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. On Labor Day weekend, many of the cars ran throwback liveries to commemorate some of NASCAR’s legends for one of the biggest races on the schedule.
The dominant car for the entire day was, as so often is the case in recent years, Kevin Harvick and his Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet. Harvick led 214 out of 367 laps, but was furious to let the race slip away after giving up a total of 17 places on pit road during the course of the evening, eventually rallying back to finish 2nd.
The rest of the top 5 were made up by Kyle Larson, who continued to build momentum following his maiden win last time out at Michigan, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Matt Kenseth came home 6th, whilst Kasey Kahne had a rare strong day, finishing highest of all Hendrick cars in 7th. Ryan Newman closed the gap to Jamie McMurray in the Chase battle with an 8th place finish, whilst rounding out the top 10 were Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott, who has now almost guaranteed his Chase place, barring a DNF at Richmond.
McMurray’s 15th place finish was the lowest of the 4 remaining Chase contenders (Elliott, Dillon, McMurray and Newman) fighting for 3 Chase places, meaning that his lead over Ryan Newman is now just 7 points. A race of a similar nature in Richmond could allow Newman to overtake McMurray in points, and therefore steal the 16th and final place on the Chase Grid.
For Martin Truex Jr though, an unexpected victory shows a change of fortune for him and his Furniture Row Racing team. It is Truex’s first multiple win season of his career, and incredibly only his 5th ever Sprint Cup win, despite having led over 1000 laps this season alone.
Next up in Richmond is the conclusion of the regular season, where all eyes will be on the Chase contenders to see who can book their place in the round of 16. Carl Edwards will be looking to sweep after a dramatic last corner pass on Kyle Busch to win in the Spring.
Image – foxsports.com