DARLINGTON, S.C. — The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series made a local stop Sunday night as Darlington Raceway hosted a throwback night Sunday.
In the annual Bojangle’s Southern 500, Martin Truex, Jr., looked to be the winner until the 78 Toyota made contact with the wall and Denny Hamlin went on to take the checkered flag after rebounding from a bad pit stop late in the race.
The race began in the late evening, with Kevin Harvick on the pole. It only took 16 laps for the first caution to fly. Trevor Bayne cut a tire and made contact with the outside wall in turn one. Bayne was then clipped by A.J. Allmendinger, who tried to avoid the 6 car.
At lap 22, Kyle Larson, of the 42 Chevrolet, took the lead from Kyle Busch and was on his way to an impressive performance. His run was stopped momentarily as a single-car wreck on lap 42 pulled out the caution flag as Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., of the 17 Ford (representing a classic Mark Martin paint scheme) got too loose and hit the outside wall on the backstretch.
On lap 100, as the final lap for stage one, Larson tried to hold off Truex, Jr., but Truex, Jr., beat Larson to the finish line by inches, capturing 10 regular season points, as well as another playoff point. Truex, Jr., has won 16 stages so far in the season. However, the night wasn’t over yet for the 78 team.
On lap 126, Daniel Suarez of the 19 Toyota made contact with the wall in turn three and caused the yellow flag to wave for the fourth time of the night. The race returned to green at lap 131.
By lap 150, the lights were on, and Truex, Jr., retook the lead from Larson. He made the rest of the field trail his bumper until lap 189 when the fifth caution flew for Gray Gaulding of the 83 Toyota. The second stage ended under the caution and Truex, Jr., picked up his 17th stage victory, which awarded him with enough points to secure the regular season title one race early.
At the start of the final stage, Denny Hamlin took the lead, holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski. After a few laps, the 38 Ford of David Ragan spun out, slowing down the field again.
With about 55 laps to go in the race, drivers were coming onto pit for the final time of the race, Race leader, Denny Hamlin, attempted to pit, going from well over 100 mph to about 45 mph, The Toyota driver overshot the commitment line and had to check up and come back around again, costing valuable time for the 11 team. Hamlin managed to keep pace with the new leader, Martin Truex Jr.
In the final three laps remaining of the 500-mile race, Truex, Jr., found himself getting a bunch of “Darlington stripes” as he made contact with the turn three wall. Hamlin passed Truex, Jr., and the Virginia native drove his way to the checkered flag, winning his second Southern 500 of his career.
Hamlin also won the Xfinity Series race the night before, holding off Joey Logano for the win.
In the Camping World Truck Series, which was racing at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Canada, Austin Cindric of the 19 Ford, spun out Kaz Grala of the 33 Chevrolet in the final lap to win.
NASCAR heads to Richmond, Va., for the final race of the regular season for the Monster Energy Cup Series on September 9, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN and the Motor Racing Network.