|Date: Sept. 3, 2017
Event: Southern 500 (Round 25 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval)
Format: 367 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/167 laps)
Start/Finish: 1st/9th (Running, completed 366 of 367 laps)
Point Standing: 4th (867 points, 133 out of first but locked into playoffs via June 25 win at Sonoma Raceway)
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Kevin Harvick started first, finished fourth and earned seven bonus points.
● The Busch Beer Ford Fusion led the first 18 laps before giving up the lead during a four-tire pit stop under caution.
● Harvick restarted 10th on lap 20 and raced his way back into the top-five by lap 28.
● The team came to pit road under caution on lap 41 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment while in the fourth position.
● The No. 4 team came to pit road for multiple adjustments at the conclusion of Stage 1 to correct a loose-handling condition.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Started seventh, finished third and earned eight bonus points.
● The Busch Beer Ford came to pit road under caution on lap 127 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
● The pit crew assisted Harvick in gaining a position on pit road during the lap-157 pit stop for four tires.
● The No. 4 team restarted fourth on lap 161 and immediately raced up to third, where Harvick stayed for the remainder of the stage.
● Harvick came to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment at the conclusion of Stage 2.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-367):
● Started sixth, finished ninth.
● The Busch Beer Ford came to pit road under green-flag conditions for multiple adjustments on lap 250 to battle a loose condition.
● Harvick came to pit road under caution on lap 263 for several adjustments and gained three positions to join the top-five.
● The No. 4 Ford came to pit road under green-flag conditions for a loose wheel on lap 297 and triggered a round of green-flag stops.
● The Busch Beer Ford took the lead on lap 316 and held it for two laps before being caught by cars that pitted later for fresh tires.
● Harvick battled on older tires in the closing laps to secure his 16th top-10 finish of the season.
● Harvick won his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole, his second at Darlington and his fourth of the season with a lap of 27.669 seconds at 177.730 mph in the final round of qualifyingon Saturday afternoon.
● He scored his 16th top-10 finish of 2017 and his 10th top-10 finish in 21 Cup Series starts at Darlington.
● He scored his 300th top-10 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series, becoming only the 17th driver to accomplish that feat.
● Harvick finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points and third in Stage 2 to score an additional eight bonus points.
● He led three times for a total of 22 laps.
● The race featured 20 lead changes among eight drivers and eight caution periods for a total of 38 laps.
● Eight of the 40 drivers in the Southern 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin won the Southern 500 to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Darlington. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 2.599 seconds.
● Truex leads the championship standings with 1,000 points and has a 107-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Kyle Busch.
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 9 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel 90.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!